Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Thoughts.. and dispelling Olympic Dreams

Nation,

I'm off to Vancouver tomorrow to watch some Olympic action live, meet some old COC colleagues. I will try and post anything interesting while I am there.

So far, here are my thoughts as a viewer
  • I feel for the VANOC people that have to deal with the thrashing from hostile media, protesters over weather, accessibility and plain bad luck (Zamboni breaking down yesterday at the long track speed skating oval). When things happen at an event, despite the best efforts, you simply have to solve the problem and take crap from people regardless of how fair it is.
  • At the last Olympics, Canada converted only 30% of the world championships medals they won leading up to the games. The USA converted 120%. This is something that the sport pych. team for Team Canada was well aware of and trying to solve. We'll see how our conversion rate works this time around
  • Jennifer Heil really wanted that gold medal in Canada for Canada. She also wanted to be famous forever.
  • I often find myself reminding others who sigh in disgust at Canadians who finished 16th in the Olympics that so many of these events are split second differences that determine final place, and so few of us will ever be 16th best in the world at anything. Makes you think differently.
  • It really seems like the action has been slow... but I assume more events will take place as we enter the first full weekend

The Old Olympic Debate- Sigh.........

It never fails. Every Olympics, ultimate open forums are clogged with "Why isn't Ultimate an Olympic Sport?".

I could go on with reasons why this discussion is foolish. The infancy of the sport in terms of organization/recognition and rules, the fact we're not even really a sport in Sport Canada's mind, the politics of the IOC, the sheer size of the Olympics as it is and the competition to get in.. I digress.

I understand that we have a great sport here, and I know we outsold Rugby 7s at World Games last year and they were just selected for the summer games, but we have to be realistic. Wondering why the game isn't in the Greatest show in the world when you can't find it at any major multi sport games level (Provincial games, national games, etc) at levels far below the Olympic Games.

I feel like a killjoy... so I will throw the dreamers a bone

Did anyone ever think that we would get our first gold medal in Canada by a Canadian in a sport that wasn't an Olympic sport until 1992 and wasn't created formally until the 1960's?

Maybe Ultimate has hope some day.

8 comments:

homrbush said...

RE: Ultimate as Olympic sport

How many X-Game sports have been made Olympic sports in the past 20 years? Many of which were soon after their creation as a sport? Why shouldn't we expect Ultimate to be further along in acceptance to the general sport population?

Why isn't Ultimate participating in any multi sport games (outside of the World Games)? Is it the rest of the sporting world looking down on the sport? Or is it a lack of effort on governing bodies' part (WFDF, I'm looking in your direction) to get the sport recognized at such levels?

Granted, gaining entrance into the summer games is tough, as there are so many events there already, and other, far more mainstream sports (ie baseball) are facing discussion regarding their elimination as Olympic events.

What does Ultimate Canada need to do to gain recognition by Sport Canada (other than anti-drug/doping)?

Daniel said...

I like to think that Canadians get what we pay for. As a society we don't/barely follow or fund most of the athletes in the years between the games but when the games do pop-up we have this expectation that we are going to "own the podium".

We seem too ignorant to realize that success has a pretty hefty price tag (that we aren't paying) and that success isn't just measured in terms of Olympic medals.

The media really doesn't help that perception; especially when they make it seem like a supreme athlete like Jeremy Wotherspoon is a failure for never acheiving much on the Olympic stage, yet he is viewed as a speed skating legend internationally among people in the know.

Oh, and ultimate has no place in the Olympics. I love the sport but let's get real.

T1000 said...

"How many X-Game sports have been made Olympic sports in the past 20 years? Many of which were soon after their creation as a sport?"

That's a difficult question to answer because people often confuse disciplines, "sports" and "events." Skicross, boardercross, BMX and the like are events, but they fall under the broader sport categories of freestyle skiing, snowboarding, and cycling, respectively. It is much easier for an event to become an Olympic event if it is already an offshoot of another sport or discipline. This is doubly true of the Winter Olympics, where participation criteria are already comparatively relaxed.

"Why shouldn't we expect Ultimate to be further along in acceptance to the general sport population?"

I'm never really sure of who the general sport population is, or what their acceptance would look like. Does Olympic or World Games status elevate a fledgling sport to sporting normalcy? There are many very popular games you won't find at either, and all manner of unusual and fairly unpopular sports at both (two-man luge, anyone?). I wouldn't measure our progress by this metric.

homrbush said...

But your example kind of proves my point. If you are talking to someone about 2 man luge, they know exactly what you mean, even if they do not fully understand the sport, because of the exposure that sport receives at the Olympics.

It's annoying to talk to other athletes/sports fans and the response is that they've never even heard of the sport, let alone stupid misconceptions about dogs.

It's frustrating to try and go to a trainer and have a program designed for you, and they have no clue what it is we put our bodies through.

I think Olympic participation does help raise awareness and participation in a sport.

I would think when Canada medals in a sport, and it's a safe bet we would in Ultimate, people would be interested in giving the sport a try.

I don't think Olympic participation would put us on par with soccer or basketball, but it certainly would big a huge boost in getting to that goal.

T1000 said...

"I think Olympic participation does help raise awareness and participation in a sport."

I don't dispute these things. The Olympics have arguably kept a number of events on life support, and some have essentially vanished since they were discontinued at that venue.

But I think it is equally important to avoid over-hyping the importance or merit of becoming an Olympic sport.
For instance, I don't think I'm going to see luge, BMX, or skicross taught in high schools across the country, yet we're accomplishing exactly that for ultimate.

homrbush said...

"For instance, I don't think I'm going to see luge, BMX, or skicross taught in high schools across the country, yet we're accomplishing exactly that for ultimate."

Great point.

Fantusta said...

Re: world cup conversion %:
Shaun White doesn't attend things like World Cups. He goes to US Opens and X-Games and doesn't care.
He's not alone. And that's why your conversion metric is pretty useless, not because Canadians need better psychologists.

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