Monday, March 1, 2010

... Own the Podium !


I couldn't help but be moved by the last 17 days in Vancouver and Whistler, BC. The fact that Canada and Canadians were displayed front and centre on the world stage had so many similarities to the pipe band world. Not only did we have champions and medallists, we had spirit and undeniable Canadian humility. When Kevin Martin won the curling Gold, the CTV interviewer attempted to make this medal more important than his Silver in Salt Lake City. But Kevin set him straight with "that silver was very special", not to say that the gold wasn't as well. I liked that... a world class statement from a world class competitor. I liked the image of Jon Montgomery walking through Whistler Village, just out of doping control - handed a jug of beer - and he does the expected Canadian thing! He repeated on national TV with one of the CTV female commentators. Bravo for the refreshing side of Jon Montgomery! Not to be outdone, the Canadian women's hockey team with medals around their necks, celebrated in classic style with pints, champagne and cigars right on the ice at the Olympic arena. It sure looks good on us! But a couple of things did bug me. For one, the press built the "Own the Podium" hype just too much. Expectations were unrealistic. In some circles, rather than reacting positively towards our athletes' performances, I heard the very opposite. Comments like "Crosby has done nothing - the women's long track pursuit team blew it - or the column didn't rise in the opening ceremonies!" But in true Canadian fashion, the closing ceremonies certainly poked fun at the rising of the last column in a way that would make "22 Minutes" proud - a clown pulling the column upwards to the sky and Catriona le May Doan taking centre stage to light the flame. What other country would turn press and popular opinion disaster into a triumph of humour and a sincere "look at who we are". And as far as Crosby doing nothing, let that last goal go down in Canadian folklore right beside that of Paul Henderson - truly a fitting end to the most successful games in history. And like Paul Henderson in the hockey summit, Crosby toiled tirelessly and took a physical pounding like no other in the tournament. So take that you nae sayers and negativity merchants! Now if you missed the closing ceremonies, you missed a Hollywood production beyond anything that could be expected out of California! Avril Lavigne, Neil Young, La Bottine Souriante from Quebec, Nickelback, William Shatner, Michael Buble and of course, "I Believe" sung by Nikki Yanofsky and Annie Villeneuve.

Can you imagine if there was a pipe band "Own the Podium" - with sponsorship for development and travel even at 1% of the 120 million federal dollars budgeted for the current program? This would secure our pipe bands for the current generation and the next. It would take strong corporate involvement and grass roots teaching - but imagine! Can you say "I Believe"

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