Saturday, February 13, 2010

Guide To Vancouver #2: The Olympics

It's upon us. The heaving behemoth of advertising, world sport, international goodwill, and backdoor cronyism, The Olympics. The Winter Olympics, so, I suppose, no need to get too excited. Unless you're from a country that is almost as synonymous with snow as Antarctica, Siberia, or Christmas Coke commercials. It's a Big Deal here. This is the Olympics Canada does relatively well at. Canadians pride themselves in living in cold, inhospitable climates. Naturally we'd excel in the Winter Olympics.

Sport, particularly amateur sport, involves getting very very serious about increasingly trivial things. For example:
  • Cross country skiiing spiced up with target shooting.
  • Jumping, but not by skiers perse, it's more by gymnasts who happen to use skiis to get lift.
  • Large rocks. Slid very slowly. To targets. Brooms are involved.
  • Using gravity and ice to go really really really fast. Have a different one for sitting, sitting with friends, standing, short, long, bumpy.
  • Moving on ice, horizontally.
It's not secret I find most sports baffling. Olympics is no exception. But there's another side of the Games that's even more frustrating. The billions of dollars I, as a taxpayer, will have to pay over the coming decades. It seems every budget, for the villages, security, venues were ten times over budget. Ten times. A lot of the uproar from the left and far left has been, "This might not be the best time to pay public money when all our social services are going down the drain.". Hard to argue with that.

However, some people say that the Olympics really will put Vancouver on the map. I'm not sure it really needs to be on the map any more than it is. And it's not like Nagano and Torino are blustering powerhouses of economy now.

I'm not so naive to believe either side, to be honest. This is a massive world party where the most elite athletics get to compete for accolades and glory and whatever it is that athletes compete for. And time for every citizen to feel unbearably connected to some downhill skiier they had not known about until 1 week ago.

I don't mind SO much that we bleed ourselves dry for a massive world party even if it is for negligible, unmeasured benefits. It's a once in a lifetime thing, the Olympics are. A time for Canadians to do something we rarely do (notwithstanding Internet debates about healthcare and backpacking across Europe): be patriotic. My country, right or wrong, type of thing. Glowing hearts, pride.

What makes it a little hard to swallow is that many corporations that will make tons of money, the untold millions that go to the IOC for I don't know what, and the average Joe, stuck with the bill. But it's a good thing it's going on in Canada, since the Winter Olympics is, to be honest, for the vast majority of Canadians: "Large World Hockey Tournament With Some Other Sports".

And you had so many rah-rah millionaires edging to get the Games here, you had corporate backdeals and people in positions of leadership with more ego than sense hoist this cost upon us. That kinda gets in my craw. But then, hey, possibly 2 golds in hockey on home turf. Rah rah.


shipwreck said...

In the end, it is all about hockey. You make some good points; the Olympics are supposed to be a boone to, well, everything in the host town/country but I've seen little evidence of this. It definitely sucks to get stiffed and stuck with the bill, but at least it's not for vampiric and stupendously stupid auto companies.

And I didn't know "crony" could be made into an -ism! Points for that.

Niteowl said...

Oh, cronyism is the only way I use the word 'crony'.

shipwreck said...

You don't know what you're missing, sir.

Chris B. said...

Biathlon is the shit.