COMMENTARY: Zoe was wrong: The Winter Olympics were awesome

Opinion by

I am of the exact opposite opinion of Zoe Daniels in her article “The Over-Hyped Olympics” (2.3.10). Right off the bat, she got my blood pounding by claiming that the Olympics “feature sports that are generally boring to watch.” I don’t see where she gets the idea that the incredible TV ratings that the Winter Olympics generate, be it for cross-country skiing or for the gold-medal hockey game – which had 10.6 million Canadian viewers, 59 per cent more than the most recent Super Bowl – indicate that the Games are boring. I don’t own a TV, but that didn’t stop me from doing my best not to miss a single event. I tuned in on the CTV website, sometimes with all three English-language Olympic channels playing so that I could switch back and forth between events that were happening at the same time. The worst part about the Olympics for me was that I was away from home, unable to enjoy the Games with my family as we faithfully do every two years.

One of the greatest problems with the article is that Daniels sees the Olympics in the wrong light. She writes as if the Olympics are held purely to battle for international superiority and “short-lived patriotism that gets stirred up by the medal count.” The Olympics are so much more than a pointless burst of pride in one’s country. In a world where obesity is a great concern of Western nations, encouraging sport is of vital importance – a raison d’être of the Games, according to their charter. As for the Winter Games being pointless, as a citizen of a northern nation, am I supposed to sit indoors and do nothing during the winter months? What makes the Summer Games more relevant, or does Daniels believe all the summer athletes should just be sent to Mexico in February? The impact of the Winter Games in terms of youth participation in athletics is easy to measure. A recent article in the Globe and Mail recounted the wonders the Olympics do for sport in this country – encouraging many children and youth to get involved with sports like ski and snowboard cross because of Vancouver 2010. Jennifer Heil and Alexandre Bilodeau have given kids something to dream about and to strive towards.

Having the Olympics in your home country is a monumental event that is to be celebrated, which is what Canadians all across this country have done – especially the citizens of Vancouver. There was some opposition to the Games being held in Vancouver, but in the end most citizens embraced the Games. Many volunteered, and in the coming years, they, as well as athletes across the country, are the ones that will benefit from the facilities that were built.

The Olympics do an amazing job of bringing a country together. It didn’t matter whether the athletes were from Quebec or Alberta – they all competed under the same flag, and Canadians cheered them on. The torch relay was also a great success as it brought the Olympic spirit to parts of the country far from Vancouver, letting Canadians who were unable to travel to Vancouver be a part of the Games.

For those who were lucky enough to attend, the Olympics were about much more than bragging rights. Going to the events gives one the privilege of seeing the best in the world compete. One of the beautiful things about the Olympics is that they bring the world to one city. The energy at events was reportedly amazing, with the spectators cheering for athletes from all countries. Even curling, which isn’t typically a sport favoured by the young, had wildly cheering crowds.

The 2010 Winter Olympics were amazing, and it’s a pity Daniels was too busy missing “superior” NHL regular season hockey to enjoy them properly.

David Konkin is a U0 Engineering student and a huge fan of the song “I Believe.”