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Two sides of Canadian athletics

February 28, 2010

Well, that’s that. The Olympics are over. Here in Toronto, it’s almost midnight and they’re still a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’ and a-honkin’ on Yonge St., with no letup in sight, after Canada’s overtime defeat of the U.S. in the XY chromosome hockey tournament.

At least it’s a worthy thing to celebrate about – I can remember Toronto fans honking their horns until 3 in the morning after the Leafs defeated the Ottawa frakkin’ Senators in the playoffs. In the first round. That was awfully embarrassing – I mean, it’s the Senators – but tonight, what the hell, have a party, you don’t win the gold on home soil every year.

The perception of the Games changed a lot in a few days – the combination of a luger’s death on the first day with a clunky opening ceremony with some lovely spring weather that was non-ideal for winter activity with some disappointing early results led the Guardian to proclaim them the worst Olympics ever. Canadians were defensive but also a little unsure of whether VANOC knew what they were doing.

But for now, we’re drinking the electric Kool-Aid and enjoying it. 14 gold medals, hockey gold and a big-ass party will do that. How the hangover feels remains to be seen. A few people still are still dissing the games; my guess is that in Canada they will be remembered as a success by most, but with a nagging feeling that they could, or should, have been even better, given the massive resources that were poured into hosting the Games in arguably the greatest location in the world.

As for myself… as I’ve said before, I’m not a big Olympics guy, but I also don’t like to spoil the party. Instead, I’ll give a shout to another side of Canadian athletics, and the kind of thing that makes the internet what it is:

The ParticipACTION Archive Project

If you’re Canadian and of a certain age – like, say, 34 – then you grew up with this. Some of it’s cheesy, some of it’s great – and it’s definitely very Canadian. When I was a kid, the commercials were mostly aimed at sedentary adults. Now that I’m a somewhat sedentary adult, it’s easier to appreciate the challenges the ParticipACTION folks were facing (the program was killed in 2001, but apparently was revived in 2007, presumably because we’re still pretty fat). I’m not sure what the program currently does, apart from putting awesome archives on the net.

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