Vancouver Winter Olympic Games

Owning the Podium: Keeping Score

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Isn’t the Olympics better than reality TV? Perhaps it actually is the best of reality viewing. Its instant, its ‘in-your-face’ and its totally real.

We knew there would be amazing stories but who could have guessed what could happen?

Who expected such tragedy and the success play our before our very eyes: perhaps witnessing the greatest or worst moments in other people’s lives:

Take the Slovenian cross-country skier who slipped and fell down a 3m slope during practice just before her event, fracturing 4 ribs and puncturing her lung. Yet champion Petra Majdic recovered to qualify and then finish with a bronze medal.

Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette insisted on performing days after her mother died in Vancouver yet still managed to place third on the first day.

Then there was Dutch 10,000m world champion speed skater Sven Kramer who was sent the wrong way by his coach, disqualifying him from a certain gold medal.

Their stories about are about them, not their countries. Doing their best.


In Canada there has been public resistance to a concerted national campaign to win more medals called "Own the Podium".

Although some of us shine when on stage, others of us get a bout of stage fright.

Hosting the Games was hard enough for our athletes, some say, without having to perform under such a media microscope.

Somehow home advantage became disadvantage. Somehow keeping score grates with some Canadians.

Owning the Podium is no more than a public declaration that we will do our best.

Not performing well is a little like hosting  a party and not knowing how to dance. How absurd is that.

And of course there was a lot of self-doubt when we didn’t dance well early on.

The ‘old school’ of not keeping score seem to suggest we celebrate goals in a game without keeping count and deciding a winner.

Aren’t we all winners, they say? Isn’t this is the Canadian way? Like Excuse Me, Thank You. No, You First.

I suspect these are the same people who say our health care (while our politicians queue-jump & go overseas for treatment) and public education system is just fine the way it is.

While handing out medals to anyone who participates at school is ok it’s not how it works in the real world playground. Remaining in a state of denial is, was Canadian.

Remember we are talking about athletes, and not just any athlete.

These ones compete because they thrive on competition and they love the sport enough to win.

And we don’t have be accomplished athletes but we do know that in life rewards are not always fair.

Speaking of fair, unlike most nations, Canadians live, eat, sleep and dream in ice and snow so why should we own everything that is played on it?

We should own everything  that is winter including the winter Olympics. Not just the podium.

Some say it’s not about the medals, it’s about  doing your best.

Exactly, and Personal Bests will eventually produce medals, whether you chose to count them or not.

Others say the purity is gone: take away the sponsors, the professionalism, hey, why not take way the finish line?

Some say the Olympics belongs to the athletes and that having dream teams participate like those from NBA and NHL detract from the real meaning.

Maybe but wasn’t it prophetic that once attention was drawn away from other events to the hockey arena, other Canadian athletes started to produce more medals.

Just a coincidence?

We have been playing a game with a competitor that has been keeping score while we try not to. Look at USA, Russia, China, Australia, Korea.

Competition = Results = Medals = Sponsors = Survival. These are the New Rules. Canada has decided to wake up and play catch up.

It may be ok to just turn up if you are a spectator but it’s not if you are an elite performer.

Failure would have been not trying our best. Failure would have been not trying to host the best Olympic Games.

The real results of OTP will not be in these Olympics but the seeds have been sewn. Instead look for the return on investment thorugh the eyes and dreams of the kids who now have that flame burning inside.

How many of our current athletes have commented on how they were inspired by a sporting generation, a specific athlete that preceded them?

OTP is about a whole new generation of athletes who are now seeking leadership and direction.

It’s funny how there appears to be less criticism of OTP now that Canada is doing better.

Now that’s bad sportsmanship.

Everyone loves a winner.

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