Sunday, February 9, 2014

Own the Podium, Unite the Nation

In an earlier post, I talked about divisions within Canada. There are tensions between English vs French, Natives vs Europeans, and central Canada vs pretty much everyone else. That's not surprising because Canada first became a country mainly out of economic interest. Then after 1867, the central government went about acquiring new provinces with as much pomp and ceremony as a corporation purchasing subsidiaries. Unlike our neighbors to the south, we didn't begin with a great deal of national pride or defining narrative.

Fast forward to the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, 2010. Something happened in between 1867 and 2010 that made us into a flag-waving nation of patriots. One writer puts it this way: "Over a long period of time, shared experiences and cooperative activity of many different kinds shape a common life" (Walzer 54). I have a hunch that two shared experiences dominate our collective memory. Sadly, one of them is war -- especially the First World War. The other is Olympics.

I say Olympics because I think it's the only widely viewed forum where Canada competes as a nation. We're a far cry from victory in FIFA, and the world championships of most other sports aren't widely publicized. Do you watch rowing outside of the Olympics? How about freestyle skiing? Me neither.

But at the Olympics, we all get behind our national athletes with pride. We all share Olympic memories where Canada shone above the rest. In the lead up to Sochi, we were suddenly flooded with videos showing Canada's highlights from Vancouver. Every single medal winner deserves mention, but the top of the list must be Sidney Crosby's gold medal goal in overtime against the United States -- cue mass rejoicing and pandemonium!

At the end of the day, just look at this medal table. We are winter!

1 Canada (CAN)*147526
2 Germany (GER)1013730
3 United States (USA)9151337
4 Norway (NOR)98623
5 South Korea (KOR)66214

More important than anything, the athletes of Team Canada represent the whole nation. Athletes from the West, the Prairies, Central Canada, the Maritimes, and the North all come together in the drive for excellence -- and together, they achieve it. By the way, did you know that 19 French Canadians contributed to those 26 medals?* I'm glad that we don't have war to unite us as a nation today, and I pray that we never will again. Instead we have Team Canada in the Olympic games, the heart of our unity beating every two years.

Team Canada:
Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars. New York: Basic Books, 2006.
Medal Table:
The Dufour-Lapointe sisters:

No comments:

Post a Comment