Gold medal hatred

Once upon a time I was very very VERY excited about the Olympics coming to BC.

I started buying the glasses from Petro Canada. I began collecting Olympics gear (current stash: travel mug and tshirt). I was ecstatic to be in the same province at the same time as the 2010 games.

And don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s an awesome thing, but admittedly that feels like years ago, not months.

And a lot has changed since then.

First of all, the CBC – for the first time since the mid-90s – doesn’ t have the broadcast contract for the games. CTV bought them for the tidy sum of 90 million dollars. And while that means nightmare-ish consequences for coverage of the games (so many ultra strict rules. For example: TV can only use 6 minutes TOTAL of Olympics images EACH DAY), and means I likely won’t be present at ANY of the events or festivities. But I actually feel okay with the fact that CBC didn’t drop 90 million on three weeks of sports coverage while laying off hundreds of employees.

But secondly, and probably most importantly, the Olympics AREN’T in BC. They are in Vancouver. It’s not the “British Columbia Olympics” it’s the “Vancouver Olympics.” And I don’t think I quite grasped how important that distinction is  until I moved here. Right now, the provincial government is not doing too great. Billions are being spent on the games, but at the same time, the education and health systems are dying. Yesterday 800 junior Vancouver teachers were given warning notices that they jobs could be in jeopardy. Health care workers are being laid off left and right.

All of which is so very bizarre to me. Back home, (“back east” as they say here) they’re hurting for teachers (or at least used to be — I assume there’s still a shortage because friends of mine are getting hired right out of university) and they’re desperate for nurses.

So there’s a lot of animosity between Vancouver and “the rest of BC”, which feels like it’s being stripped of essential services to pay for a three week party, when most people can’t afford or arrange to go. And it’s not just Vancouver vs. BC. It’s Vancouver vs. Vancouver too.

I find it all quite sad, and really quite revealing. I wasn’t old enough during the Calgary Olympics to remember it in any significant way. So I have no past experience to base this on.  But I do wonder if this much Olympic hatred is par for the course.

I always thought of the Olympics as a great nation-building, collective experience. That during the games, the country comes together in spirit, in support of young athletes and their triumphs. That’s ESPECIALLY true of the Winter games, because let’s face it, we suck at summer sports (that’s cuz we’ve got hockey and curling on the Winter docket but lacrosse just never caught on in the Summer games). Who doesn’t remember the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City when both the men and women kicked ice hockey BUTT. I don’t even LIKE  or WATCH hockey, but I saw both finals and remember the huge surge of pride I felt when we won.

So it’s a tad depressing to field all the anti-Olympics phone calls at work. And read all the hate comments on CBC.ca. It’s like we’ve all become so cynical. We’ve all forgotten what this is supposed to be about — or what it COULD be about. Yes, the timing sucks: We are still recovering from the recession. And obviously the province is suffering from a lack of funds…

But what’s the problem with appreciating this for what it is: an incredible opportunity.

Maybe I’ve forgotten to take off my rose-coloured sunglasses once I came indoors. But come ON. It can’t be ALL bad.

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3 Responses to “Gold medal hatred”

  1. Mongoose Says:

    You know, I think the Olympics have gotten ridiculous anyway. And I don’t mean the Vancouver Olympics, I mean the entire Olympic movement. We’re deluged with Olympic-themed advertising every time, but it’s practically impossible to see any meaningful, interesting coverage of the actual events. Even when they’re reporting on the sports, they waste half their air time on “Olympic Moments”, interviews, chats, and other things that are not actually the watching of the sports. It’s not even entertaining anymore.

  2. sons Says:

    Um, isn’t it obvious that the “incredible opportunity” is for the corporate sponsorships which is an easy money-maker to us, the consumers, who are being sold on behalf of the aesthetics of national pride? Yes, I admire and support the athletes, but local athletes are built from well-supported communities (recreation centers, sports in schools, funded coaching programs, good healthcare etc.). I hope the new facilities in Vancouver will nurture future athletes (as Calgary has), but the city has to become more accessible to a younger demographic for this to occur. I also support the greening of the city over the past decade. Every year there are new bike lanes and new transit lines. I just hope the services keep up, and do not pay the cost of all this recent infrastructure wealth.

  3. Robyn Says:

    So true. The honeymoon is already over and the ceremony hasn’t even begun. Meanwhile, the divorce papers are already in the mail. Glad I live in Ontario now.

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