Pique'n yer interest 

Knowing when to shut up

As I've been told time and time again, in letters to the editor and on Internet chat boards, I've lost. It's time to get over it and jump on the bandwagon.

The Olympics are coming and no amount of complaining or protest can change that. It's time to make the best of things and any lingering negativity - say a column wondering if free speech rights could be trampled to benefit Olympic sponsors, or questions about how much money is being spent in the final analysis - clearly have no place in the public forum.

My job as a reporter and columnist is, evidently, to run positive stories about the Games and nothing but, lest the international community pick up on that negative, cynical vibe and run their own negative stories. Before you know it we'll be caught in a negative feedback loop that will spiral out of control, wiping the smiles off children's faces, withering hearts, turning glee to glum. We're trying to leverage these Games to attract tourists after all, and nobody wants to holiday in Bummersville. Besides, we did get a highway upgrade and employee housing out of this so I should probably shut up.

That's the problem with media these days, our relentless drive to find the piece of coal in the bag of gold. You enjoy months of sunshine, but then we go and run articles about climate change and the forest fire hazard. You want to put an iPhone on your credit card and we run articles about unemployment and the economy in freefall. You like your cookies and muffins and we write about trans fats.

Maybe they're right about us. We're raining on parades here, turning people off the news. No wonder people aren't buying papers anymore and the industry is on life support. Knowledge may be power, but it also turns out to be a depressant.

For the record, I really do like the Olympics and hope our athletes crush the competition. I have met most of our local athletes by now and I can say without reservation that they are all outstanding people that deserve our support and admiration. Any investment we make in these athletes is returned tenfold as they inspire kids, evolve into coaches and community leaders, and turn their experiences in high performance sports into high performance lives.

The 100-day countdown was also inspiring, especially the constant references to our hosting "the biggest party in the world." Somehow the Games seem a lot friendlier when we use the term party - a little sport, a little spectacle, a chance to rub elbows with people from around the world that are genuinely excited to be here. There are so few genuine opportunities to feel part of a global community or the larger "brotherhood of man" if you'll forgive the misogyny.

I get it. I do.

But there's a "but." There always is. And questions that need to be answered.

Like the question of whether it was in Canada's best interest to build a second set of Winter Olympic venues when we were already struggling to keep the first set going. I expect we'll know more after the Games but it's a question that still needs to be asked.

And while I'm happy we're finally investing in our athletes in a serious way, there's no substantial commitment past the Games to make excellence in sports a tradition in Canada - despite the very real benefits it could have for our collective health and well-being.

The IOC, while greatly improved, remains a concern. For all their talk of promoting peace and equality, they still voted to give the Games to totalitarian China, and to Brazil where there is a real disparity of wealth and environmental responsibility that should be addressed.

And then there are those female ski jumpers, and all the lame reasons we've been given why they can't be part of the party in 2010. The IOC has rules and standards, as they should, but they've been willing to bend them in the past for the sake of equality and staying with the times. The bottom line is that if men are allowed to compete then the women should be able to compete automatically, regardless of how developed their side of the sport may be by comparison. Equality, whether in politics or the workforce, has always been a process, and so far the IOC - long derided as a wealthy, somewhat corruptible men's club - is on the wrong side of that process.

All the protesters in Victoria and Vancouver do make us look bad, but you can't deny they have a point. Homelessness has been an issue in this province for decades, and could have been resolved a long time ago if we gave the problem even a fraction as much funding and attention as we have given the Games.

That's the last negative Olympic editorializing you'll hear from me. It's hard to type while wearing my new red mittens, jostling around in back of the bandwagon.

 

 

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