2.10.2006

torino

The XX Olympic Games open today in Torino. I've been hugely impressed at how big the winter Olympics are here in Canada. It completely makes sense, of course, this being a winter country with a natural affinity for the winter sports. You don't see nearly the attention paid to the winter Olympics in the US.

I got a CBC broadcast schedule in my Globe And Mail this morning. It's going to be hard to get any writing done this weekend.

I also can't wait to see how much coverage the 2006 winter Paralympics receive. As far as US media coverage, if the Paralympics are the Olympics' poor neighbour, the winter Paralympics are the squirrels in their backyard. Even in the world of disability sports, the winter Paralympics are barely noticed, probably because the two premiere wheelchair sports - racing and basketball - are in the summer games.

But Canada has a great sledge hockey team, and great disabled skiers, so I'll be watching for them.

I always have mixed feelings about the Olympics - I dislike the nationalism, and the presence of professional athletes, as well as the corrupt, self-righteous IOC. But I love great athleticism, so I put aside the negatives. In general, the Olympics are more palatable here in Canada, where patriotism is so much less obnoxious than where I am from.

20 comments:

James said...

But Canada has a great sledge hockey team, and great disabled skiers, so I'll be watching for them.

The sledge hockey team has been well represented in "buy our stuff, we support the Olympics" advertising on Canadian TV stations. I hope that means it'll be well covered.

I always have mixed feelings about the Olympics - I dislike the nationalism, and the presence of professional athletes, as well as the corrupt, self-righteous IOC. But I love great athleticism, so I put aside the negatives.

I'm much the same -- though I don't really care too much for the team game sports, either. Olympics-wise, I prefer solo sports, like skiing (or cycling in the summer). I also enjoy the sports that emphasize grace and artistry over strength and power, such as figure skating and gymnastics -- though I know some folks don't like subjective judging as a scoring system. ;)

Amateur said...

It's in the team sports that the nationalism is unavoidable, which may explain james' distaste. In the individual sports, nationality is more or less irrelevant to the competition, unless you want to make something out of it. But in the team sports it's how the teams are divided; you can't really escape it.

Put me down as one who doesn't like the scored sports much, grace and artistry aside -- and of course that is itself subjective. I might argue that cross country skiing is very graceful.

As for the professional athletes, years ago I would probably have agreed with you, but now I don't. Most of the anti-professional rules were/are pretty hypocritical, in the end, and I don't really see how it makes the competition less interesting if some of the athletes have been paid for playing sports. For the most part, the Olympics are now really about the best vs. the best, and that's an improvement IMO.

David Cho said...

I root for a country to root for only when I am with people. If Korea and US are competing against each other, I root for Korea when I am with Americans, and America when with Koreans.

James said...

It's in the team sports that the nationalism is unavoidable, which may explain james' distaste. In the individual sports, nationality is more or less irrelevant to the competition, unless you want to make something out of it.

Of course, many folks do insist on making something out of it. Just think of the stereotype of the "Russian judge" in figure skating or gymnastics.

I'll root for the Canadians by default, unless someone catches my attention as being particularly deserving of recognition -- a spirited underdog type, for example.

L-girl said...

The sledge hockey team has been well represented in "buy our stuff, we support the Olympics" advertising on Canadian TV stations.

Ah, corporate sponsorship. Where would sports be without it...

though I know some folks don't like subjective judging as a scoring system. ;)

Hum de dum... whatever could he mean... ;-)

Put me down as one who doesn't like the scored sports much, grace and artistry aside -- and of course that is itself subjective.

I'm in that camp. Those pursuits may be beautiful, and they are certainly very athletic, but sports? Not to me.

I don't really see how it makes the competition less interesting if some of the athletes have been paid for playing sports.

Not less interesting, for sure. But less fair. To me it's just a ridiculously non-level playing field to have people who are paid to play full-time competing against people who have to secure funding to train and support themselves.

L-girl said...

If Korea and US are competing against each other, I root for Korea when I am with Americans, and America when with Koreans.

I'll root for the Canadians by default, unless someone catches my attention as being particularly deserving of recognition -- a spirited underdog type, for example.

I used to always root against the US, because of the general obnoxiousness when they won. Now I'll root for Canada, but only mildly. I just love seeing the elite-level competition. I don't much care who wins, unless, like James said, someone else seems very compelling.

Speaking of which, it will be SO NICE not be subjected to the NBC triumph-over-adversity-athon and the pompous Bob Costas. One year viewers were so annoyed at and repulsed by NBC's all-story, non-sports coverage that the network was forced to change their approach in the middle of the Games.

The duck thief said...

Why is it that the Winter Olympics aren't that big in the US? Is it just about geography where the US isn't a northern country.

I like watching specific events at the Olympics but really, it doesn't have a purpose. It's just about competition and nationalism. It's not like their competing to see who can end AIDS in Africa first.

L-girl said...

Why is it that the Winter Olympics aren't that big in the US? Is it just about geography where the US isn't a northern country.

Good question. I think it's geography. The winter sports have a more limited following in the US. That's my guess, anyway.

It's not like their competing to see who can end AIDS in Africa first.

That's for fucking sure. It's not important on that level.

But to me the Olympics is about human achievement, the same way a great building or film or sculpture is. I marvel at human creativity and ingenuity - at human potential - and I view great athleticism in the same light.

That's why I try not to let the nationalism distract me from the achievements.

M@ said...

You might be in for a bit of a treat with Brian Williams (the CBC sports anchor) in that case. Not only is he a good and interesting presenter, he is more than willing to call a spade a spade on-screen -- whether he's calling Canadian athletes, other countries' athletes, the refs or judges, or what-have-you out for whatever he sees as wrong. He is unapologetic about his views, and his views are well-informed. I have a lot of respect for that.

As for the Paralympics, I'm not sure whether the CBC is covering them, though they have in the past. I suspect they'll be covered in CBC Sports Saturday or on the Outdoor Life Network or some other extended-cable channel.

I did find an interesting collection of clips about the Paralympics by the CBC though.

M@ said...

Oh, and I meant to add, I don't see figure skating being any more about grace and artistry than speed skating (there is no less artistry in the elegance of their movements, I maintain). I'm not dead set against the judged sports but I'm much, more interested in the speed skating, nordic events, and even the team sports.

On that note, Olympic curling was really annoying last time because the crowd would scream and ring cowbells for every American stone. It was quite obvious that few in the audience understood the sport, because they cheered some really disappointing shots. That's the kind of nationalism that puts people off, I think. "Whoo! He has the same passport as me! What he does is awesome!" I'm looking forward to a much tamer curling tournament this time.

Nerdbeard said...

I guess I'm in a minority in my thinking that the Olympics are a travelling con game. Pillage one city, move on to the next... I'm so very happy that Toronto didn't succeed in any of their bids. Too bad about all the money, time and attention they wasted.

James said...

Oh, and I meant to add, I don't see figure skating being any more about grace and artistry than speed skating (there is no less artistry in the elegance of their movements, I maintain).

A speed skater's movements are necessarily elegant for practical reasons (you go slower if you don't move right), but the sport isn't so much about that -- it's an inevitable side effect of the real goal, speed.

Amateur said...

You might be in for a bit of a treat with Brian Williams

Ugh, I can't stand Brian Williams. It's all well and good to state your opinion, but I don't find his very well-informed. Plus, he gets the basic facts wrong quite often.

On the other hand, I'm not looking forward to having CTV take over the Olympics. On the whole, their broadcast team is much worse.

M@ said...

Ugh, I can't stand Brian Williams. It's all well and good to state your opinion, but I don't find his very well-informed. Plus, he gets the basic facts wrong quite often.

I'm okay with having differing opinions here. Brian Williams was around for the first olympics I was really watching (in 84) and that definitely colours my view.

But he's never willing to give any space at all to anyone who's got even a whiff of cheating about them. I respect that. He's far harsher than, oh, I don't know, let's-say-for-the-sake-of-argument WADA.

At the SLC olympics, he set up the interview where Beckie Scott accused Dick Pound of lying about the SLC games being the cleanest ever. She was right; the absence of evidence (of dopings) did not equate to evidence of absence. Beckie Scott was raised from a bronze medal finish to the gold medal she rightly deserved, and Dick Pound was shamed so much he resigned from his position.

As if! But if nothing else -- and in this Olympics business, we must take what we can get -- Canadians were able to see, in full colour as it were, an athlete square off directly against the establishment. And Brian Williams' well-known stance against doping had a lot to do with a mere bronze medallist being elevated to a position where she could question the head of WADA on their business.

I'm not going to defend Williams for everything he's said wrong throughout his incredibly long career as CBC olympic anchor. But at least I can trust that, when he's on the air, someone's calling 'em as they sees 'em. I admit that that's not the only thing, but that's a big thing.

And if Beckie Scott doesn't rip up the field this year, well, I shall be severely depressed.

I'm away for the weekend -- I'll look in on our impressive medal haul on Sunday or so... :)

Carrie said...

Okay this had me so confused..LOL

Brian Williams is at NBC. But CBC has a Brian Williams too. Jeepers, I never made the connection before. Different guys, same name. Weird.

Anyway, I'm not into the Olympics particularly this time around. I should be but just don't have it in me for other reasons.

I will say that in all my years watching the Olympics, the Canadian coverage was always better than the USA networks. We covered athletes from every country, there was no biased reporting, and we actually heard about our Canadian athletes. I liked hearing how other countries were doing, and their own underdog/star athlete stories. It made it a truly Olympic world experience. So if you can, try to stick to Canadian coverage for all inclusive Olympic reports. At least, that's how it's been in the past. Not sure how it will be this year. They may f*** it up entirely. LOL

L-girl said...

I'll be curious how I find the CBC's Brian Williams, with these two disparate views. If he gets basic facts wrong, I'll cut him no slack. That is very common in sports journalism, and it's inexcusable.

But he's never willing to give any space at all to anyone who's got even a whiff of cheating about them. I respect that.

I don't. Anyone can be accused of cheating by jealous athletes or a small-minded sports media. They shouldn't be guilty until proven innocent. A "whiff" shouldn't mean a thing.

So if you can, try to stick to Canadian coverage for all inclusive Olympic reports.

Who else would I watch? I'm not making a joke, I seriously don't know who I'd watch besides CBC. I never watch US news stations - I barely did when I was in the US! And, as I said, I hated NBC's Olympic coverage.

L-girl said...

I did find an interesting collection of clips about the Paralympics by the CBC though.

Thanks M@, this is great. I saw this page when I was looking for Canadian Parlaympics links, and I've been going through the videos for a couple of weeks. They touched on all the major issues - great stuff.

Andrea said...

For me it is just sports sports sports sports sports!! I love sports.
I will scream for Canada but in the end I clap for who ever won.
When I watch people push their heart out for a sport it fills me with huge respect and pride regardless of who they are. My dad is the worse. He breaks into tears every time time the national anthem is played for the winner of what ever sport he is watching that day: it could be Bolivia, Russia or America, he doesnt care, he balls his head off with joy and pride and great respect every time.
Ya
For me the Olympics are just about SPORTS!!

L-girl said...

Andrea, that's fantastic! That's just how I feel, only you said it more simply. Thanks. :)

Amateur said...

But he's never willing to give any space at all to anyone who's got even a whiff of cheating about them.

You can't go around firing accusations of cheating without evidence. What's to stop people making the same accusations against Beckie Scott? "She came out of nowhere to win ... she must be using EPO."

I find that whole Scott story frustrating -- somehow a significant fraction of the Canadian public has got the impression that Dick Pound is some kind of a doping apologist. Nothing could be further fro the truth. In fact, I also wish Dick Pound would go, but for the opposite reason. He shouldn't be spouting off in the press about how dirty cycling is, or how one-third of NHL players are using illegal drugs. WADA is like the anti-doping police force, and as police chief, Pound should try to maintain some semblance of neutrality.