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The spirit’s the medal

Posted on February 25, 2014 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Craig Funston

As I write this, the Olympics are still going strong. By by the time you read this, they will be history, replaced by the usual daily pulp of wars and rumours of wars, NHL trade deadline gossip, and Rob Ford’s latest antics. And throw in Miley Cyrus’s latest obscene tour while you’re at it.

All the hoopla about Russia’s anti-gay decree, the terrorism threats, and biased judging will have passed into oblivion, unless some wag chooses to turn his or her reflections into a book. If so, I’ll pass, as I have enough books in my library that I haven’t coloured yet.

Not having cable, I have had to resort to watching highlights on my computer, when I so choose. Most of my information comes from the paper or cyber form of news. And some of it also comes from the gossip at the local shop. Trouble is, I don’t go down to the local coffee to gossip, so that source is out.

What little I did see and read about was unbelievable. I am thinking, in particular, of snowboarding—which I don’t do as an Olympian or non-Olympian: It was likely one of the craziest, goofiest, daringest [not a real word, Maurice—I’m just trying to be funny] feats I have ever seen.

Some guy called McMorris, a dude out of Saskatchewan (not a hotbed of mountains or even hills, the last time I scanned the horizon) was very impressive.

Olympic results are often a difference of milliseconds, of miniscule twists and turns. Only three people win the medal, but the difference between the next four placings could easily be literally one one-hundredths of a second.

Hockey comes to mind when I think of twists and turns. The American women’s hockey team would be champs today had the puck been a a few inches to the right. A yawning, empty net, was there for the filling, but the puck was off by oh-so little.

Speaking of hockey, there have still been some rumblings about who got chosen for the Canadian men’s team and who was left out; of those who had the honour of representing their country and those who did not; and those who were sometimes scratched and those who played every game.

Should Claude Giroux have gone? Eric Staal? The owner of Giroux’s team, Ed Snyder, thought he should have gone. And Staal made it clear he was very, very bitter for not being chosen. Others not chosen were either nowhere near a mike or seemingly had too much class to open his flap.

Unlike Staal, who put the “twit” back into Twitter.

It’s a thankless job to be in management of any sort, but especially in something as iconic and public as the Olympic hockey. I think Mike Babcock has the hardest job of all the Canadian administrators: Who starts in net? Who gets scratched? What line combinations need to be, well, re-combined? Is Sydney Crosby hurt?

There’s a subtle lesson unfolding in all of the above, and it transcends hockey, the Olympics; it permeates every segment of our crumbling society. It’s called “sense of entitlement” and it is becoming a greater and bigger issue than anyone appears to care to acknowledge.

Is Claude Giroux entitled to be on the men’s Olympic hockey team? No. Is the fourth-place finisher entitled to a re-count? No. Is Roberto Luongo entitled to start in half of the games? No.

The longer answer is also No, but deserves some fleshing out. You’ve read it here before, but we have developed a supremely warped view of personal rights and rewards. There is a move afoot when it comes to diverse spheres such as students, firemen, and house buyers. There’s a sense that each is entitled to a passing mark, a permanent job, or their own special home because they are entitled to it.

They’re not; that Olympic skier who is slower than the three people in front of him or her doesn’t deserve a place on the podium. The best finisher gets gold, the second-best gets silver, and the third-best gets bronze. Pretty straightforward, if you ask me.

Thus, the Olympics are really a metaphor for life: Work hard and do the best you can; you may not get a medal for whatever you do, but you will get something much more important, namely, that intrinsic sense that you gave it your all.

The Olympic games will come and go every four years, but it’s the Olympic spirit that will live on. Only a select few make it to the games, but that spirit of excellence is for all humanity.

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