Olympic window shopping

With the Olympics now underway and Canadian spirit high across the nation, I got to wondering what it is about winning medals and claiming victories that brings us together as a nation more so than at any other time.

Let’s face it: most of us are watching sports we’ve never even heard of before, let alone watched for an extended period of time. So why is it so important for us as Canadians to see someone come out on top in a sport whose rules we may not even know?

Especially with these games taking place on Canadian soil, I’ve seen a renewed interest in Canada’s standings and medal count. Although this can be seen as support for our home and Canadian pride, I think it also comes down to Canada’s poor standings in past Olympic games.

Let’s face it. We’ve hosted three Olympic games and, up until Sunday night, we had not yet captured a gold medal on Canadian soil. The idea that Canada does so poorly in the summer and winter games, despite the high number of athletes we have competing, has become a sore spot for many Canadians and athletes alike.

The idea that we, as a nation with mountains and snow for most of the year, could not obtain a gold on home soil seems to have confused most of the country. However, when one looks at the root of the problem and why these standings are so low, one can only arrive at a single conclusion: funding.

What the Canadian Olympic team receives in funding from the government compared to American athletes in the same sports gives us an idea of why we end up so far down in the ranks when it comes time for our athletes to represent us in the games. Our athletes are content to train for hours on end with minimal funding and go out there and give it their best. But wouldn’t it be better if we stood behind them as a nation and gave them the tools they need to actually achieve victory?

Maybe if we, as a people, brought more support to the sports that we may not watch other than during the Olympics, it would be easier for these incredible athletes to beat someone on a level playing field.

Look at it this way: the sport we are known for at the Olympics—the sport in which we usually come out triumphant—is hockey. Canadian hockey players are paid millions of dollars in the NHL to train all year long, and concentrate only on hockey.

Imagine we gave as much support to someone in the biathlon event, or even cross-county skiing. How different would the outcome be then? Support for our Canadian athletes is an integral part of the games. Next time you find yourself griping about Canada’s poor performance, perhaps think about giving support to a sport that may need it.

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