Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

A Canadian’s thoughts on the Olympics

If you live in Canada you will be aware of the incredible amount of whining that took place the first couple of weeks about Canada’s lack of success at the Olympics.  Canada had sent this huge team and have won 0 medals.  This was compared to some tiny country which had won their first medal that day.  Why was this?  We didn’t spend enough on sports.  We didn’t pay enough for training, coaching, equipment. 

(The Canadian government does actually sponsor elite athletes in some sports and pays them a living allowance.)

While there may be some truth in this, a lot of it is silly.  Over the weekend Canada did win 7 medals including 2 gold and the whining has been reduced.  When you are a small country you just can’t do well at everything.  You have to specialize.  You don’t have the resources to do well across the board.  There has also been a discussion about the swimming program which is in a rebuilding phase and how the swimmers actually did much better this time, setting personal bests and Canadian records and making more finals.

Do you actually care how many medals your country wins?  Is it really important?  I do like to hear the individual stories of character and perseverance that lead to great personal performances.  They can be inspirational.  But in all honesty if someone asked me if the government should put even more emphasis on elite players in a sport I would say no – work on training the new players especially the youth.  Use the same money for that purpose.  But I do recognize that watching great performance can inspire young people to get involved in that sport.

What does that mean for bridge in Canada?  I would like to see more money coming into the game but I would like to see the focus of that money being: teaching new players, providing a broader based coaching program so that people who learn to play bridge in their 30’s can also have an opportunity to build their skills beyond the beginner and intermediate lessons and more promotion for the game.  It does help to have some players who provide inspiration for new players.  The more publicity we can get the better.  And I confess I wish we had a trials system for the Open Team (at least) that would get the best possible team to compete for us.  Right now I wonder if we even get the best team possible.  We need a wealthy sponsor with some good advisers to select the best players across the country and bring them together to form the let’s say "Vancouver Victor" or the "Canadian King" (I couldn’t come up with something as good as the Dallas Aces).  I don’t even care if they feel they have to be on the team (although in most cases I would prefer it if they would be content to be captain).  I wonder how much money it would take.

Another thing that keeps coming up is the likelihood of cheating at the Olympics.  Are the Chinese gymnasts really 16 years old?  Somehow I think not.  Why are some countries doing so very well at some races especially sprints – could it be better less detectable drugs?  Are some of the judges colluding to get a better score for their countries?  We do know many people have been caught cheating over the years and I am sure it is happening but we just don’t know who is doing what.  And unfortunately when I see an incredible result, I wonder is cheating going on.  It does take a lot away from the event.  Again there is a parallel with bridge.  The harder we try to stop cheating, the better the cheaters become.  It is even easier  to cheat in bridge than in track and field.

I also have mixed feelings about China.  I know that I made the right decision in not going to Beijing once my team lost the trials.  Ray and I planned to go but the pollution is just too much for an asthmatic like me.  If I won I was going to spend a lot of time with doctors trying to work out the best way to deal with the pollution.  I also don’t like the censorship and the way they are clearly treating people.  On the other hand I don’t care if the girl singing the national anthem at the opening ceremonies is lip syncing since she is prettier than the real singer – its all just a fairy tale anyway.  I think China has done an incredible job of preparing and providing the best experience they can to visitors and participants.  The pageantry and facilities look incredible.  The city itself is interesting with the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.  I am sure for most competitors it will be an experience they will never forgot.  All of this is true for the World Mind Games as well.

Leave a comment

Your comment