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Critics Never Rest

I recently came across an article in the Star Telegram (in the top stories category) titled “In these Olympics, Canadians only paid attention to Canada” where the atmosphere and feeling of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games was compared to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. We Canadians were accused of belittling the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili and essentially ignoring the accomplishments of non-Canadian athletes. We were accused of not truly welcoming the world, as we were “too busy being (their word) ‘patriotic.’ ” We were accused of partying and celebrating too much (which is apparently fueled by the Canadian reputation of  drinking too much beer and loose marijuana laws). The electric atmosphere and exciting we saw downtown was labeled as “[having] little to do with the Olympics.” Perhaps this one question sums up Gil Leberton’s whole argument: “Had the classic Canadian inferiority complex finally decided to bite back?”

Gil, let’s start with your big point: that we Canadians ignored the triumphs, accomplishments, and tragedies of other athletes. You accuse us of only giving a “token nod” to Nodar Kumaritashvili. Maybe you didn’t see the standing ovation that was given by the people outside of BC Place when the Georgian athletes entered the stadium at the opening ceremonies. Maybe you didn’t actually watch the news and listen to what people on the streets had to say for days after the incident. Maybe you didn’t realize that even when the Georgian athletes competed, we welcomed and cheered them on for their immense strength in continuing on after such a shocking tragedy. You go on and list a several accomplishment and successes of other athletes, but these are mainly American athletes may I note. Have you forgotten the triumph of Petra Majdic, the Slovenian cross-country skier, who won a bronze medal with 5 broken ribs and a punctured lung? Have you forgotten the triumphs and dominance of the South Korean speed skaters? Have you forgotten the incident regarding miscommunication between Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer and his coach being disqualified when he was on track to set a new world record and win another Gold medal? It seems hypocritical to accuse us Canadians of only recognizing our own, when you go and listen a slew of American performances, with a couple of European athletes thrown in there to mix it up. Kim Yu-Na’s performance? It was not overshadowed by Joannie Rochette. Did you hear the cheering for Kim Yu-Na at Pacific Coliseum? Or at Heineken House (which was where I watched her final skate) which filled with Canadians? We all cheered and celebrated as loudly as we did for Joannie. We all recognize the grace and beauty that Kim Yu-Na had in both her skates, and how dominant her performances were.

Perhaps one of the most ironic things I find with this article is the title.  You accuse Canadians of only paying attention to Canada, but in talking with many of my American friends, they were completely unaware of any of the triumphs of athletes other than the Americans. And even then, there was a large number who were not even following the Olympics. I know this isn’t only an incident confined to the Olympics. I could go on and on with incidents that I observed during my time in the USA. For example for the first Canada vs USA hockey game, merely in looking at twitter and Facebook, of the people I was following, only a handful of Americans were following the game. The rest? Some were providing real-time tweet coverage of the congressional hearing for Toyota. Some were completely unaware of the game, or of any of the other Olympics events during those 17 days for that matter (they were aware of the games, but were not following any coverage other than what I had posted or told them about).

With regards to that key question “Had the classic Canadian inferiority complex finally decided to bite back?” There is no inferiority complex here. Just humility and quiet pride. A quiet pride that had a reason to stand up and yell in these past two week. Isn’t it ironic that you accuse us of being too patriotic when in the US, this sense of patriotism is prevalent all the time?

I could go on, but I think people get my point. Gil, you sir need to get your facts straight and get out there to see what’s actually going on. You can’t just leave those blinders on and see only what you want to see.

As a closing, I’d just like to say on behalf of Canadians everywhere, that I take great offense that you compare our nation, which is perhaps one of the most open and welcoming in the world, to the Fascist regime of Nazi Germany.

Edit:
Responses to the article from:
The Province
Deadspin

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