OK, I think I might just be a bit of a hypocrite…but only a bit.
During a recent table-topics speech at a Toastmasters club I was guesting at I was asked to discuss whether or not I would be upset if the Canadian Men’s Hockey team at the Vancouver Olympics did not win the Gold Medal. In the two minute impromptu speech I responded with, I stated that I would not be upset. To me, as long as the team performed with dignity and sportsmanship should have been enough.
There were two specific factors to my thought pattern within that speech. One is that I’m not really a hockey guy. It just was never the sport that echoed with me on the spiritual level that it does for so many of my peers. The second factor, and perhaps even more so important was that I was honestly tired of people, including many aspects of the media, of attacking our athletes for the smallest issues. So much pressure and focus was being driven at them to aim for the gold and that alone. No other choice seemed to be good enough.
Really, to me the Olympics was about bringing all the nations together in a friendly competition. Though I won’t pretend for a moment that this is everybody’s initial view of the event I think they should at least take the concept into consideration. Canada as a nation prides itself on tolerance and diversity; being the “Peacekeepers”, but there were times when I felt shame that we were taking an almost militant stand against our own athletes. “Succeed or we’ll feel shame for you”. I really hated that.
These athletes and their families have stories of sacrifice that would shock and awe so many people. People are not born Olympians…they are built through a tremendous amount of time and practice. I respect that, and I wish people would do more of the same.
So, how am I a hypocrite? Well, on Sunday afternoon I will admit that I sat with the rest of the family during my own birthday celebration to watch the gold medal game. When USA drove in their last minute tie-breaker goal in the dying seconds of the third period I could feel my heart sink. I truly understood better than ever the passion for the game that is held. I had been caught up in the passion, and hell yeah I would have been upset if we had lost.
The tension in the air during overtime was an almost electric feel as the hearts of everybody beat as one for their hockey team to succeed. Now, as we all now know…we did succeed. Canada got their gold medal in hockey…one of fourteen gold medals as a matter of fact. Pride in our game continued unabated, much celebrating around the country began to partake and I could have easily pretended to show indifference.
I can’t though. I DO have that much more pride for them having one the gold. But at the same time, I have no disrepect for any of the other teams who came out here and gave it their best. They, like every other athlete in the eighty-six events that took place are worthy of our respect.