Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Sportsmanship at the Olympics

I don't often blog about things that don't have a real impact on my life or that of my family. I'm going to make an exception today because I have a bee in my bonnet and need to set it free.

We didn't watch much of the London Olympics this year. We cancelled our cable last year so we could save money and brain cells. As a result, we don't get a chance to watch live tv very often. I did, however, follow the daily events via the news and Facebook. I am a proud Canadian and love cheering our athletes at the Olympics. I've never been one to value results over effort, and I think all of our athletes deserve a tremendous amount of credit for accomplishing all they have - medals or not. The Olympics are about sportsmanship and doing your best and It always fills me with pride to see our Canadian athletes who embody this spirit. I love watching the Olympics with Jonas because it's such a wonderful opportunity for him to see good this good sportsman in action.

I have to admit that my Canadian pride was tarnished a bit by behaviour of the Canadian women's soccer and men's relay teams in these Olympics. Both teams lost out on the medals they thought they deserved because of rules violations. The women's soccer team was charged with a  rarely called delay of game penalty, and the relay team was disqualified because of a foot fault. These penalties are not the reason for my disappointment. Everyone makes mistakes and I don't see any point in dwelling on them or letting a simple mistake ruin what would otherwise be a fine performance from both teams.

Contrary to public opinion, what embarrasses me as a Canadian is not a perception that our teams with treated unjustly. Rather it is the reaction of the teams and public to these events. "It's a stupid rule!' and "They never call that penalty!" were basically the cries of outrage heard across the country. Christine Sinclair, the captain of the soccer team, went so far as to publicly berate the referee for making the call. (I hope it's not true, but I've heard that the referee has been suspended over this international incident.) Worse still, Sinclair was rewarded for her public tantrum, by being named the Canadian flag bearer for the closing ceremonies. She might be one the best female soccer players in the world but her reaction to this incident erased any respect I may have had for her.

Like petulant children, both of these teams violated a rule, got called for it, and then cried bloody murder for having to face the consequences. It makes my blood boil. Yes, would be heartbreaking to lose some thing you work so hard for a a violation that, in the words of the relay team captain "didn't make any difference at all." I get that disappointment, I do. Feeling angry or sad is understandable, but you have to control your emotions and your reactions, and you have to take responsibility for your actions.

I will not tolerate my kids acting that way. In fact, I often use Canadian athletes as examples of good sportsmanship, a crucial life skill in my books. These two incidents are the exact opposite of the expectations we try to set for our children and I'm saddened that it seems our entire country have bought into the outrage.

To the rest of our Canadian team, I say congratulations! You've made us proud!!


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