I wouldn’t consider myself a sport fanatic. I’m not all that athletic. And I usually carry a typical, though intense, quiet Canadian patriotism.
Until the Olympics hit. For two weeks, every two years, I am glued to the tv – now to my computer and smartphone as well!! – foregoing my normal sleep patterns, rearranging doctors appointments, and ordering takeout. I am addicted. To the sports, the competition, the drama, the athletes, their journeys.
But something’s changed. There’s something a little more alluring about Sochi. I’m dreaming about it. I’m tweeting about it. I’m having conversations with complete strangers about the events – a welcome and grateful reprieve from the months-long-crap-talk about the worst winter we’ve seen in decades. And I’ve begun to wonder why the best of the best are demanding so much of me. Why are the Sochi Olympics so all-consuming? Here’s what I’ve come up with.
I’ve got money on it! If anyone has a problem with more of our tax dollars supporting Team Canada’s athletes, I’m not hearing a whisper of such disapproval during Sochi 2014. Someone decided to start pumping some money into our ‘Own The Podium’ quest for Vancouver 2010. And the difference is obvious, notable, and impressive. Now, it seems that I am (indirectly) invested in our success. I am a part of Team Canada. It’s as close as I’ll ever get, and I’m loving it!
Canada looks good! We have arrived in Sochi with purpose, determination, and a competitive attitude that has the world wondering what happened to the ‘nice’ Canucks. Until a Canadian coach gives a Russian skier a ski to replace his broken one so he can finish his race. Until one athlete gives up his Olympic race to a teammate, who in return, wins us a Silver medal. Until someone shows up at the beer fridge with a Canadian passport – because you know NO Canadian will drink a beer by himself.
We are kicking our big brothers’ butts all over Sochi. We love our American friends. But they’re bigger than us. And any time we come out on top, the victory is all the sweeter. We are David. They are Goliath. And while I’m sure other countries harbour the same sentiment, I’m claiming this as a uniquely Canadian feeling!
Hockey. At the risk of having my citizenship revoked, I will admit that I am an anti-NHL fan. It’s not the game. It’s the overpaid, spoiled players, the greedy owners who constantly confuse themselves with gods, and the fighting. Yeah. The fights. Regardless of the blood and broken noses, the fights look staged and choreographed. I pity the Leafs fans who have been brainwashed into thinking that Toronto will EVER win anything. So long as the lambs contribute so faithfully and generously to the pot, there is NO incentive for the league or the owners to invest a penny into a winning team. Suckers. But when it comes to hockey at the Olympics, the fast, exciting, even breathtaking action is addictive. The players are ALL-IN. And, of course, the thought of beating the US is icing!!
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Gaymes. I’m not sure how necessary it is for our home town to sport the rainbow flag right now. But I am sure that the world is making a statement, taking a stand, and passing judgement on the whole issue. And anything that promotes human rights for all is a wonderful thing. And maybe, just maybe, Russia, and 90% of the rest of the countries in the world, will at least begin to see that there’s really nothing to fear when everyone has the right to love and be loved by whomever they like.
So as I sit here in my igloo, watching the Russian and American men duke it out on the hockey rink, wearing my red shirt, and pouring maple syrup on my pancakes, I can’t help but feel that busting Canadian pride that sits quietly under the surface for two years at a time, just waiting for a chance to cheer with my 35 million fellow Great White Northerners. The closing ceremonies are next weekend. It will be a sad slow climb to Spring after that.