Monday, August 18, 2008


Too grand

Soooo..... since we last chatted, athletes representing Canada have been on a nice little run, to say the least. Going off of the previously mentioned SI predictions, Canada "should be" at 1 gold and 6 bronzes. Those same 7 athletes/teams in fact won 2 golds, 3 silvers, and 1 bronze, with 4 of them outperforming their anticpated results, and but one failing to win a medal (the women's 8, who finished 4th). On top of that, a couple of lightweight rowing crews and Ryan Cochrane won bronze when no medal was predicted.

So it would appear that the Why Can't Canada Come Through When It Matters? folks have been silenced, presumably for about 18 months but not longer. Now, the principal remaining discussion topic for call-in shows and the like is We Need To Do More To Support Our Athletes, where "We" = "your tax money, like it or not". I know where I stand on this, but rather than lay out a complete (and coherent) manifesto against the Government of Canada Happy Funding Firehose, I'd rather just pass on some semi-disjointed thoughts on the matter.

**Anything that makes being an Olympic athlete more like a government job is a bad idea, I think. If someone wants to make sacrifices as they get older to hang on to their medal dreams, or just because they love the life of being an internationally competitive athlete, then good for them. But it would be a shame if we had Olympians forestalling retirement because "the money's decent and it beats getting a job", or thereabouts.

**Heard Rob Kerr on the radio last week saying, roughly, "I think it's sad that our athletes have to spend time going cap in hand to get sponsorships etc.". I could not disagree more. There are probably 3 reasons for the Government of Canada to support Canadian athletes:

1) To bring glory to the homeland.
2) To identify, encourage, and develop people who can (a) (broadly speaking) be role models and inspirations for Canadians, and (b) go on to lead successful and exemplary lives in their own right.
3) The athletes aren't allowed to go and compete for Team Visa, so even insofar as one might be indifferent to item 1), it only seems fair to compensate athletes to at least some degree.

It's my contention that item (2) would be compromised by four-year-round full government funding, and is actually advanced by the current system, such as it is. Taking two hypothetical Olympians who retire at age 32, certainly the one who has simply cashed a government cheque every month will be at a disadvantage going forward to the one who has "marketed himself", developed extra-government relationships, and participated in voluntary exchanges of values. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but that's the way I see it.

**Shutting assholes like this up
I'm sorry but when we are paying for them to be there, we have the right to complain about the performance.

seems like a desirable outcome.

**No Olympic athlete wants to hear this, and indeed, I'd probably have trouble saying it to one's face, but their struggles and sacrifices are a big part of what makes them admirable and inspirational in the first place. And when I say sacrifices, I don't mean chocolate bars, or vodka paralyzers at 1130 on a Friday night. (Also: I'm intending to minimize the snark factor of this comment, but honestly, having to get a job and/or borrow money from your parents doesn't exactly make you part of the exploited underclass.)

Anyway, nuts to all that for now. Tonight is Despatie and Ross in the 3m springboard semis, and Simon Whitfield in the triathlon. Giv'em shit, SQW. This is a blog about hockey (usually!), but I'm quite happy to have its 2000th post devoted (eventually) to wishing you well.


What an amazing race for Whitfield.

2000 posts. Man. What a ride.

Too bad Whitfield couldn't pull that one off. So close. Awesome race.

What a finish. He should have tossed the hat earlier.

I got that whole "ze germans are coming, ze germans are coming" thing in my head watching the final sprint. Simon had a hell of a run, and at 500m away had no business getting a medal. All out guts from that man. Congratulations on silver!

The analyst guy seemed to be single-handedly trying to make up for every accusation of the past two weeks that the CBC was overhyping Canadians' chances (Whitfield's being dropped by the leaders, now he is again, now he is again, etc.), but I wouldn't have argued with him when he said Whitfield was out of gas when they hit the dam.

Un-fucking-believable. What guts.

I enjoyed that race much better when I muted the sound. That's usually a good policy for most Olympic events.
As for supporting athletes, perhaps someone should do an investigation into how much (or how little) the private sector does to fund these athletes. I suspect Canada's branch-plant economy doesn't help matters much.

I'm telling you guys, it's the West Coast air. Whitfield, the men's eight, it just keeps piling up for us western islanders.

I would have bet a million dollars that big German bastard couldn't have stayed with Whitfield. God bless both of 'em.

Amazing race. Whitfield just didn't have the kick, but it was still pure guts to get silver -- just look at how long it took half of the field to even cross the finish line.

Whitfield had the kick, he just used too much catching up and then went too soon turning the corner. I'm not sure he could have beat the German anyways, but Frodeno sure looked like he was waiting for Whitfield to make the move and run out of gas (as opposed to making his own move). If Simon waits another 50m before really putting the hammer down, maybe he wins it.

I think "now running in Lane 8 for Team Visa" and "beside him in Lane 7 for the University of Southern California" would be more honest than "Canada in Lane 8 and Jamaica in Lane 7."

And while we're at it: Rexall Oilers, Rogers Blue Jays, Canwest Blue Bombers, etc.


Canad-Inns Blue Bombers. At least for now. We're not sold yet.

That Whitfield race was the highlight for me so far. Looked like he was done, tosses the hat when he realizes it is made of lead, catches them (the look on all of them - wtf!?) and then sprints away! Beautiful.

And three more medals this morning.


Cosh said ...
I would have bet a million dollars that big German bastard couldn't have stayed with Whitfield. God bless both of 'em.

You did. In a somewhat drunken stupor. Send cash, Cosh.

p-ow - Whitfield said he went as early as he did because he figured his main competition was the New Zealander and to beat him he had to go when he did. That worked out.

He didn't think the German would stay with him - terrific race by the big man.

Which reminds me -- what was with the director electing to show the last 200m from the front, i.e. an angle where you can't possibly see the separation between the competitors, nor (barely) who is even in the lead? Not exactly the most dramatic illustration, seems to me.

Yeah that shot from the front freaks me out - guys are 20 feet behind and look to be right behind.

Yeah that shot from the front freaks me out - guys are 20 feet behind and look to be right behind.

Warning: Objects in mirror are NOT as close as they appear. :)

I hope the Canadian media will stop hand-wringing now - it isn't as though some of the athletes have been choking or anything, they have been having career-best performances on a big stage! Stupid media talking heads.

Uhh... Brent Hayden most definitely choked, as did Tyler Christopher. BUt it's great that darkhorses or flat-out-of-nowhere guys like Cochrane, Burnett, the lightweight fours, and Lopes have surprised to balance things out. The problem was that the balance didn't happen in the first week.

Black Dog—- Yeah, I saw that. I guess no one knew what the German was going to do. And Frodeno played it perfecty throughout the entire run, too. There were a couple of times where the leader slowed to try to get him to take the lead and break the wind for a bit, and he basically refused (at one point even holding his hand up to Gomez as if to say "No thanks."), so no one could have had an inkling about how much he had left or what sort of pace he was capable of setting. I'm convinced he couldn't have outsprinted Whitfield (as opposed to just outlasting him, which is kind of what happened) but I have no idea what Docherty was capable of in comparison (perhaps hes faster than Whitfield over shorter distances, which is what Simon's quote seems to imply).

Either way, Whitfield closing the gap is the second most exciting moment of the games for me so far, with the first being Phelps somehow winning the 100m butterfly.

I reserve the right to still remain mad that Togo got a fuckin' kayak medal and we didn't. COME ON.

The best part of that is that in their "Contenders" bit, CBC stated that Boukpeti didn't stand a chance and was only here because he was the top-rated African paddler. Then he wins.

To be fair, though, elite athletes spend a lot of their time training. I can't imagine most of them have time to hold down "real" jobs along with the level of trainign and practice they need. My mom's best friend in high school trained for the 1980 Summer Olympics while still going to school, and it was four years of no life that she'd probably rather have back, in hindsight. (Also, let that be the lesson to any dipshit who advocated a boycott of this one: it doesn't fucking work and the only people you punish are the athletes, who don't have a damned thing to do with any of it.)

Besides, sponsorship money isn't just putting money in athletes' pockets, it's paying for coaching, facilities, equipment, trainers, travel expenses, and entrance fees. Your point about "marketing yourself" is a valid one, but I would counter by saying this isn't the self-promotion Olympics, it's the athletic Olympics. I'd rather have the better athlete there than the better self-marketer, if it came right down to it.

Yeah that shot from the front freaks me out - guys are 20 feet behind and look to be right behind.

Maybe that's what the director was going for? I dunno, it's weird.

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