Various observations on sport this morning.
I see that the Winter Olympics is much bigger here in Canada than in the US - which completely makes sense. I have a lot of mixed feelings about the Olympics in general. I'm turned off by all the nationalism, the IOC is notoriously corrupt, and the presence of professional athletes exposes a strange farce. Yet despite all that, it's fantastic to see people compete at that elite level, especially (for me) in sports that enjoy little or no widespread recognition.
In Canada, where the winter sports are much more part of the national psyche, and where nationalism isn't as offensive to me as it is in the US, I'm ready to get caught up in hockey, skiing, speed skating, and all the rest, even the crazy luge and skeleton.
I'll also be watching to see how much coverage, if any, Canadian media gives to the country's Paralympic athletes. The Paralympics, the Olympics for athletes with physical disabilities, is where the true flame of amateur sport burns brightest. (It's also one of the things I write about.) Coverage in mainstream sports media in various countries ranges from nothing to extensive. I'm very curious to see what it is here.
(Did you know there is a wmtc reader who is a former Olympic athlete? Cool, huh?)
Last night we saw - for the second time - the Corner Gas where the town holds its annual curling tournament. (So far it's my favorite episode.) I saw curling for the first time in the last winter Olympics, when there was supposedly a huge spike in interest in the sport in the US.
I found it strangely mesmerizing. There are some comparisons to baseball, my One True Sport - the arcane terminology, the stop-and-go pace, the long periods of quiet. And I like how curling is related to other games that people play all over the world, some of them very old, such as boccie, boules, petanque, or lawn bowls - ingeniously adapted to a winter climate. I'm going to try to watch it during the Torino Olympics.
Last night we also saw a bit of the first game of the World Junior Hockey Championships. I had been under the mistaken impression that the Juniors were kids, a la Little League (which also has an exciting World Championship). I was surprised to learn the players are up to 20 years old, and already professionals. I noticed several Canadian players come out of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), which is on TV in my area all the time.
I'm sure someone reading can fill me in. Are the OHL and similar leagues the equivalent of minor league teams in baseball, functioning as a farm system for the NHL? Or are they independent professional leagues operating in their own sphere, the way baseball once had a Federal League, a Pacific Coast League, or the surviving Northern League and Frontier League?
And finally, there's a CBC hockey ad - not sure what it's for, maybe Hockey Day? - that shows two usually invisible hockey players: women, and sled hockey. Sled hockey (called sledge hockey in Canada) is an amazing sport, something you have to see to appreciate. I've never seen it at the elite level - I've only been to summer Paralympic games, never winter (yet) - and I'm hoping the CBC or even TSN will cover some of it in Torino.