If any of my friends are reading this, please close this window; I’m about to say something nice about Canada during the Olympics. I know this is not like me and perhaps I’ve had one headache too many in the last little while and my brain has started to melt but when something happens that makes me think and puts a genuine smile on my face, I have to say something nice.
I’m not a fan of Team Canada at the Olympics. It’s not that I don’t think the athletes have worked hard to be there. It’s not that I think that they’re all a bunch of baby killers. I’m actually confident that most of them are nice people who are honest and work really hard at their sport. Still, I can’t stand the Olympics and I hate Team Canada even more. There are several reasons for this: I hate with a passion the over-commercialization of the Canadian Olympic Team by The Bay and all the other sponsors and advertisers (if I have to see another commercial about the Bay’s clothing line of Olympic apparel I’m going to wretch); I hate that the Olympics disrupts regular programming on television (at least this year isn’t so bad since I normally watch the CBC or cable and the Olympics are being broadcasted on CTV and TSN for the next couple of years); and I also just enjoy playing a heel.
Actually, out of the three, playing the bad guy is probably my favourite reason. I like being the guy that turns someone’s day sour. Because I know, when Canada wins something, it makes it that much sweeter for those I’ve been making miserable. Not only did their country win but for that moment they were able to shut me up (which I think people end up taking more pleasure in). And that’s fine. In the grand scheme of things, that’s my role and I enjoy playing it. In movies and other performing arts, you need a good villain to make for a better good guy.
I was happy when Team Canada lost to the U.S. in hockey yesterday. It gave me a chuckle that the entire country yesterday let out a collective “DAMMIT!” after the U.S. scored that empty-net goal. If there’s one group of people on the entire Olympic roster that I couldn’t care less about, it’s the men’s hockey team. Every go-around, they talk about how they’re going to walk over everybody and then they end up screwing up in the preliminaries. Then they start throwing blame around to others instead of themselves. There was also that one year where Wayne Gretzky blamed the fans and sponsors for being too supportive and that made the other teams want to beat Canada even more (apparently Olympic gold and a moment in front of the international spotlight isn’t enough; beer ads really push the foreign teams over the edge). My response after yesterday’s loss was “good”. Another Canada loss and the blame is going to be thrown around again. Maybe they’ll blame my sister for watching too much Olympic coverage and therefore angering the Americans for not watching their network produced programming on television.
However, I must say that my patriotic pride is at an all-time high. Not because of the victories that Canada has had at these Olympics. I couldn’t care less. However, it’s the fact that, for the most part, the Canadian mainstream media has been celebrating those competition even if they finish off the podium. It doesn’t matter if someone gets the gold or finishes sixth, there’s going to be a story about them and how well they did and how hard they tried. Most countries wouldn’t do something like that. In some countries, if you don’t bring home a medal, you’re a failure; and a few countries turn their back on you if you don’t bring home gold.
It almost brings a tear to my eye that even though the narrative going into the Olympics was that Canada was going to dominate that hasn’t really happened, nobody has turned their backs on the athletes. In the hearts and minds of many, they are still heroes and sources of inspiration. Instead of calling them losers like they would the Toronto Maple Leafs after a series of losses, they’re celebrated and given just as much support prior to the Olympics as they were before the flame was lit in Vancouver. It’s hard to even to pretend to be a bad guy when that’s what’s happening.
And if you tell anyone that I’m going soft, I’m going to push your grandparents down a flight of stairs.
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Laura Secord is more famous for the chocolates than her accomplishments during the War of 1812. Now the chocolate company bearing her name is back under Canadian ownership. This has been another Canadian Heritage Moment.