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J.J. McCullough

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Congrats Canada, On our Gold in -- Err -- Pride?

Posted: 08/13/2012 3:20 am

Well, another Olympiad has come and gone, and for the XXXth consecutive quadrennium, Canada somehow failed to top the medal count. But cheer up! Not only did we take home the most bronze per-capita (just in time for the coming penny shortage!), but the nation's editorial pages are practically brimming with encouraging sentiment about national pride and junk.

"Bronze on the podium, gold in our hearts," beams the National Post editorial board, sounding more like a Dr. House diagnosis than they probably intended. Partaking in that typically Canadian ritual of bragging about being modest (and then feigning awkward about it), the NatPo celebrates the fact that for once, Canadians "seem more able to enjoy the competition itself and the remarkable performances when they occur," as opposed to all the weeping and slashing that usually defines our consumption of sport.

Yes indeed, agrees Goldy Hyder in the Vancouver Sun, we're all super stoked about our Olympic successes, and don't give a beaver's tail if screaming those words "would have been considered an 'un-Canadian' remark" in some ill-defined past. Canada's the "envy of the world" these days precisely because we've learned to love ourselves so vigorously inside the stadium and out -- so everyone just sit back and watch the free trade deals roll in.

But how about our conduct in the games themselves?

Already an overflowing cornucopia of patriotic narratives at the best of times, the London Olympics proved to be a particularly deep horn of inspiring national myths for any nation willing to reach in.

Usain Bolt moved the tiny island of Jamaica to tears by proving his country can be good at a sport that's not hilariously ironic. Britain's Bradely Wiggins breathed new life into his nation's long-running fetish for ludicrous facial hair. And Canada's women's soccer team gave the world's most insecure people one more reason to gripe about being screwed by Americans.

The fact that our fluky loss to the U.S. last Monday has received such ample play in the non-sports sections of the papers suggests the punditocracy found more than a little political subtext in the travails of Captain Sinclair's plucky band of upstarts, which is really a greater honour than it sounds. Forget medals, you haven't really made it as an athlete in Canada until you're a metaphor for something.

"Every now and then," says the Toronto Star board, "a moment in sport - a crushing defeat or an inspiring victory - comes along that focuses a nation's attention and galvanizes its sense of pride." Women's soccer was apparently 2012's moment, though who wants to bet that it'll be the crushin' rather than the inspirin' that we'll be teaching our grandkids about?

In  any case, young Ms. Sinclair has clearly "earned a spot in Canadian sports lore," for all the "passion and patriotic pride," on display during that fateful Monday, fawns the Calgary Sun. To be fair, it was kind of strange "to see a sport other than hockey grip the collective imagination," responds the Ottawa Citizen, but meh, let's just embrace the mystery.

No paper, of course, engages with the idea that in the hyper-competitive, hyper-nationalized Olympic hothouse, who you play matters every bit as much as what you're playing. And in a country with no shortage of pathological hang-ups about our southern neighbour, practically any heated Canada vs. U.S. match is destined to become some kinda "moment," much as we may insist our fascination was really spawned by an overnight appreciation for female athleticism, or whatever.

Had we faced an incredibly tense, high-stakes standoff with the Yankee devils in the women's canoe sprint, for instance, I'm sure the these same fair-weather soccer fanatics would be demanding we hoist our closing ceremonies' flag from a rowing oar.

* * *

Now, I know we're all excited about the big Saturday morning reveal of Mitt Romney's running mate, but as Canadians we must learn to ignore the shiny distractions of the American election and remain focused on our own, equally compelling brand of politics. For example, on Thursday Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser introduced a new program to monitor oh whatever let's just talk about Paul Ryan.

If you're a Canadian journalist looking for an excuse to write about the big sexy funtimes that is the U.S. presidential race, a good way to conceal your magpie-like motives is to dream up some specious "Canadian connection" to fool your editors into paying for that DC ticket. First prize in this contest should surely go to Postmedia's Randy Boswell, whose Saturday profile of the Republican VP wannabee stretches to new limits the notion of what constitutes a "domestic angle."

Did you know Ryan appears to possess " at least a fleeting knowledge" of Canadian tax rates and health care? It's true! He's mentioned both in actual speeches! To Americans! And don't get me started on the Keystone pipeline, which he's also aware of! Man, forget Obama, has anyone seen this guy's birth certificate? You sure it won't say Moose Jaw or something?

Kelly McParland at the National Post, meanwhile, offers up a rather absurd column on Ryan in which he simply cobbles together a bunch of quotes from other newspaper editorials, throws in a few snippy quips of his own, and then holds up the whole lazy hodge-podge as if it's some sorta profound media survey.

Can you believe what some people get paid to do?

Loading Slideshow...
  • Rosannagh Maclennan, Gold, Women's Trampoline

    Canada's Rosannagh Maclennan performs during the women's trampoline qualification at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, in London.

  • Adam van Koeverden, Silver, Men's 1000-Metre Kayak Single

    Canada's Adam van Koeverden slows his kayak after winning a men's kayak single 1000m semifinal in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012.

  • Men's Rowing Eight, Silver

    Canada's Brain Price, Will Crothers, Jeremiah Brown, Andrew Byrnes, Malcolm Howard, Conlin McCabe, Rob Gibson, Douglas Csima, and Gabriel Bergen pose with the silver medal they won for the men's rowing eight in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012.

  • Women's Rowing Eight, Silver

    Canada's Lesley Thompson-Willie, Andreanne Morin, Darcy Marquardt, Ashley Brzozowicz, Natalie Mastracci, Lauren Wilkinson, Krista Guloien, Rachelle Viinberg, and Janine Hanson pose with their silver medals for the women's rowing eight in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.

  • Tonya Verbeek, Silver, 55-kg Women's Freestyle Wrestling

    Gold medalist Saori Yoshida of Japan bites her medal after the victory ceremony for the 55-kg women's freestyle wrestling competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in London. On the left is silver medalist Tonya Lynn Verbeek of Canada and on the right is bronze medalist Jackeline Renteria Castillo of Colombia.

  • Ryan Cochrane, Silver, Men's 1500-Metre Freestyle Swimming

    Canada's Ryan Cochrane gestures after winning a silver medal in the men's 1500-meter freestyle swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.

  • Women's Soccer, Bronze

    Canada players celebrate winning the bronze medal during the women's soccer ceremonies at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in London.

  • Track Cycling Women's Team Pursuit, Bronze

    From left, Canada's Tara Whitten, Gillian Carleton and Jasmin Glaesser celebrate the bronze medal they won in the track cycling women's team pursuit, during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Derek Drouin, Bronze, Men's High Jump

    Canada's Derek Drouin, bronze medalist for the men's high jump, stands on the podium during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

  • Christine Girard, Women's 63Kg Weightlifting, Bronze

    Christine Girard of Canada competes during the women's 63-kg, group A, weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. Girard won the bronze medal. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

  • Antoine Valois-Fortier, Bronze, 81-kg Judo Competition

    Canada's Antoine Valois-Fortier, top, reacts after defeating United State's Travis Stevens in a bronze medal match during the men's 81-kg judo competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

  • Carol Huynh, Bronze, 48-kg Women's Freestyle Wrestling

    Carol Huynh of Canada, celebrates her win over Isabelle Sambou of Senegal after their 48-kg women's freestyle wrestling bronze medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

  • 3-Metre Synchronized Springboard, Bronze

    Canadian bronze medalists Jennifer Abel, left, and Emilie Heymans pose with their medals after the 3 Meter Synchronized Springboard final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Sunday, July 29, 2012.

  • Women's 10-Metre Synchronized Diving, Bronze

    Meaghan Benfeito, left, and Roseline Filion of Canada reacts as they see the final results after competing during the women's synchronized 10-meter platform diving final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Canada won the bronze medal in the event.

  • Mark Oldershaw, Bronze, Men's Canoe Single 1000m

    Canada's Mark Oldershaw displays the bronze medal he won in the men's canoe single 1000m in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012.

  • Mark de Jonge, Bronze, Men's Kayak Single 200m

    Canada's Mark de Jonge shows the bronze medal he won men's kayak single 200m in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • Richard Weinberger, Bronze, Men's 10 Km Swimming Marathon

    Silver medal winner Thomas Lurz of Germany, left, gold medal winner Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia, center, and bronze medal winner Richard Weinberger of Canada pose at the medals ceremony for the men's 10-kilometer swimming marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London.

  • Brent Hayden, Bronze, Men's 100-Metre Freestyle Swimming

    Canada's Brent Hayden poses with his bronze medal for the men's 100-meter freestyle swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

 

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