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The Week That Was: At Least We Got Something

Posted: 08/12/2012 12:37 am

Some of you may remember my column about the Olympic Games (of course you do, it was a literary jewel), and how I don't watch them. It was kind of a big admission. Like standing in a stadium full of Leafs fans and saying, "Hockey? It's not really me." (Presuming there are enough Leafs fans to fill a stadium.)

Well, you can kinda understand why. As of this writing, Canada is 12th, with one gold, five silver and 12 bronze medals. Let us all bow our heads and listen up to what Jerry Seinfeld says:

The Olympics is really my favorite sporting event. Although, I think I have a problem with that silver medal. Because when you think about it, you win the gold -- you feel good, you win the bronze -- you think, "Well, at least I got something". But when you win that silver it's like, "Congratulations, you almost won. Of all the losers you came in first of that group. You're the number one loser. No one lost ahead of you!

So at least we have something. A lot of something. And sure, there were a lot of outrages -- from yesterday's disqualification in men's relay due to a simple misstep, to my own personal outrage at the loss of our women's synchronized swimming team, not least because these amazing women have been blogging for us. In the latter case, your sport depends entirely upon the subjectivity of the judges -- it can't be measured by a winning millisecond. And it seems our team did something too creative, too "outside the box" and not enough wooing of the judges. The same issue that has plagued figure skating in the past. But ladies, we were proud of you. Keep going for the dream, even when your dream is punished by unimaginative numbskulls.

Maybe the problem with the Olympics comes down to, as contributor Yoni Goldstein suggests, the sports. Bottom line here:

One characteristic of the Olympics to explain why we don't care about the Olympics when the Olympics aren't staring us right in the face: the games themselves, and here, I think, is where the problem lies. It's that the sports competed in at the Olympics don't keep our attention. In other words, they are not interesting to us when not framed by the Olympics.


For one thing, the sports featured in London are laughably simplistic. Compare a typical Olympic amateur sport -- let's say, shot put -- to a typical professional team sport, hockey. The former is ludicrously one-dimensional: You throw a heavy ball as far as possible, and hope no one throws the ball any farther. That's. Basically. It. Now consider hockey: for starters, competitors are actually playing two games simultaneously -- trying to score a goal and trying to keep the opponent from scoring, and there are any number of ways to be successful, and to fail, in each of those endeavors. I don't want to belittle the technique and training necessary to become a successful shot-putter (have you seen those guys?), but at the end of the day, like running, swimming, javelin, pole vaulting, cycling and virtually every other Olympic event, it's just one very specific skill-set.

Or maybe it's the ridiculous commercials? Blogger Patricia Pearson asked a fair question: What is up with all those taxpayer-paid-for ads about the War of 1812?

One minute, I'll be watching some riveting event of sportsmanship at the Olympics, and then suddenly CTV cuts to commercial, and I'm treated to an array of cartoonishly noble characters attired in soldierly red coat and womanly bonnet, circa Regency England, with platoons aiming bayonets at the American frenemy, and I'm like: WTF, federal government? Nobody cares about the War of 1812. It happened two centuries ago, before Tim Hortons and hockey. It doesn't matter.

Maybe the federal government has figured out that you snoozed through History I, II, and III -- all in which Canada's "triumph" in the War of 1812 featured prominently -- so is playing "gotcha" while you are in your boxers and eating Doritos, wondering how the 4x100-metre relay is going to play out. Some currently unemployed attack-ad genius is trying to shove Canadian history into your subconscious, and knows that subliminal nude Laura Secords won't pass the broadcasting regulations. Next up: Commercials triumphing the passage of the Wheat Board Act.

Fortunately for those who love the games more than I do, you could follow HuffPost's fabulous coverage -- whether it was our Dawn Cuthbertson's coverage of 1500m runner Hilary Stellingwerff's journey to the Olympics, or Ron Nurwisah's liveblogging of the epic women's soccer match, or Managing Editor Kenny Yum's take on Olympic marathoners.

So let's now move on -- and pray that this afternoon's closing ceremonies won't be a reprise of the opening's quick history of England, as if staged by Andrew Lloyd Webber, replete with dancing chimney sweeps and NHS nurses...

HuffPost Canada launched its Music section, and landed some big names including Dan Mangan. And Blog Town welcomed superstar Raffi to its rail, who wrote movingly about the death of the whale that inspired his children's hit "Baby Beluga" (stuck in mothers' heads around the world!).

This coming week will see the launches of HuffPost regional editions in Alberta and B.C. So exciting! I'll be travelling out there, and will give you a full report next Sunday. I'm having my Stetson sized as I write.

Don't say you're not excited. Now get back to your Doritos.

 

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