canadian hand-wringing at its worst

Although I'm not watching the Olympics, it's impossible to miss all the hand-wringing about Team Canada not winning gold medals.

Apparently a female wrestler and the men's eight crew have ended this great national shame. But in the preceding week, the op-eds and letters were everywhere. I can only imagine what talk-radio was like. I saw the Canadian athletes' performance described as a "debacle," "a disaster" and "a national embarrassment". I saw several demands for an official inquiry.

Is there nothing Canadians can't beat themselves up over?

As I understand it, Canada spends quite a bit of money identifying and supporting elite athletes and coaches. You can lay the ground work, you can prepare, you can give support so athletes can work as hard as possible. Canada does all that.

But you can't control the outcome. Short of bribery, you can't actually buy a championship. (Just ask a Yankees fan.) If you don't invest in a team, chances are they won't see the podium. But no amount of investment will guarantee you a medal. It's a big world out there. On that particular day, there just might be more than three people in the world faster, stronger, and better than your guy.

Personally, I'd like to see more funds invested in grassroots sport, which benefit more people, than sports at the elite level, which benefit the many only as spectators. But if elite sports is the national priority, at least people should grasp what we're spending our tax dollars on. It's as if the complainers don't understand how sport works.

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