It is tragic to hear incredibly talented youth who have given their all speak of how they have let down their country if they finished a fraction of a second or a few points behind those who won a medal. In a post-skate interview, figure skater Patrick Chan was forced to say he apologized – twice – “to the Canadian people for letting them down.” A chart was repeatedly shown depicting Canadian figure skaters who held the World Championship but filed to win Olympic gold in the same year. This impression given is that there were “chokers.” Chan did make some mistakes but Moir and Virtue did not, yet still received a silver. What happened to the idea that participating in the Olympics is itself a huge achievement. How could any of the athletes be considered “losers” or “chokers”?
Further, some athletes have been selected by a private entity, B2ten, for support and funding on the basis that they are “winners.” B2ten, seems to follow the model of “making Canadian monopolies internationally competitive” – in other words that the state mobilizes the resources of the society behind the monopolies that can be winners internationally and shut out the competition. It picks the athletes it considers the “winners” and provides the funding and resources so that they can become the winners internationally. The noose of monopoly right to decide everything has been tightened.
Even before the games are finished, the Harper government has announced that its funding of athletes is finished. Own the Podium and the B2ten organization which funded 24 athletes of its choosing for the 2010 games is now the name of the game. Does this mean that from now on, corporate sponsorship will determine which athletes get funding and a whole apparatus dedicated to their “success in the international market” and which do not? Such developments, all in the name of high ideals should be of concern to Canadians.