I love the Olympics. Or should I say, I used to love the Olympics more than I do now.
Growing up in Calgary in the 70's, my family was privileged to belong to the Calgary Winter Club. They had a swim team that all of us kids competed for at one time or another. Mom or Dad would drive us every night for practice, either hang out and socialize, go curling, or go home for some rest and relaxation while the four of us swam laps and dreamed about being an Olympic swimmer.
For me, the Olympic gold medal was the be all and end all for a swimmer. It is the highest level that a swimmer can reach. When Mark Spitz won 7 golds in Munich in 1972, swimming became increasingly popular in Canada and USA. Swimming has had its ups and downs over the years, with doping scandals from the former East German team, and now the questionable swimming of the Chinese. Michael Phelps was caught with a bong after the Bejing Olympics, but managed to spin out of that one before London.
Olympics are about the hard training, sacrifice and above all, HEART!
I guess it was ever since they allowed the Dream Team of the NBA to play in the Olympics that it all went downhill for me. These guys were the best of the best at the time, but they were PROFESSIONALS.
In the 'old' days, an athlete won a gold and then the sponsors could use them to sell their products. That was how athletes were compensated for all of their hard work and sacrifice, and could 'retire' from the amateur sports world, become a commentator a motivational speaker or disappear into oblivion.
Not any more.
Now, athletes can be professionals and be Olympic athletes at the same time. They are already raking in endorsements before the Games and usually by sponsors that are also sponsoring the Games. Is this right? The jury is still out on that.
I get psyched when I see Canadian athletes do well, because I know what they put in to get where they are.
I like to see stories on Usain Bolt and his legacy that he is leaving for future runners in Jamaica. Giving back. Its heartwarming.
I guess I can do without the 'yo yo' attitude of the USA basketball team, who collectively earn over 180 million dollars a year and treat the Olympics with such a 'whatever' attitude.
For me, that is not the spirit of the Games.
Now we just have to rid ourselves of Brian Williams on CTV...