Monday, 10 March 2014

Olympics...a postscript

The Olympics are now long over but I cannot resist making one last comment.  The day after they ended (Feb 24th), Jian Gomeshi summarized the games well in his opening essay. That was followed by Q's sports panel. I was especially interested in their debate about whether or not  NHL players should continue to compete at the Olympics. Ontario Noon had the same discussion that day and a lot of people seemed to be in favour of leaving them at home.

Not everyone agrees. I spoke to someone who told me that mens hockey was the only Olympic event he followed. I don't think those hockey fans are the ones we should be catering to. The Olympics are an opportunity for all of us to become more familiar with a variety of sports and to be introduced to many athletes who usually compete with precious little media attention. Is it too much to ask that very four years we open up our minds, just a little?

Although I certainly enjoyed watching men's hockey, those games were not a highlight for me. Nothing touched the excitement of the women's gold medal game. The main reason I'd be happy to say goodbye to the NHL guys at the Olympics, is that they soak up way more media attention than they deserve. For example, on the day that Canada played the U.S., (Feb. 21st), CBC's The National, decided to start off their newscast with coverage of that game. As Wendy Mesley said, "That's where we begin tonight, with men's hockey." Why?

First, they did a lot of pre-game mood stuff; they  interviewed fans about their apprehension. Then they covered the highlights of the actual game and interviewed goalie Carey Price. They also showed us fan scenes across the country during the game. Then they interviewed fans in Sochi about how they were going to obtain tickets for the gold medal game . Back to Canada they went, to reveal those oh so interesting details about how fans across the country would have to get up so early to watch the upcoming gold medal game. On and on they went,  after a hockey game that featured one lousy goal....and it was not a gold medal game! Altogether they spent five minutes on Canada's mens hockey team.

They followed this up with about two minutes on Canada's other notable accomplishments of the day. Now those accomplishments were nothing to sneeze at. On that day alone, Brad Jacobs led the men's curling team  to win gold, Marielle Thompson won gold and teammate Kelsey Serwa won silver in ski cross, while speed skater Charle Cournoyer won a bronze medal in the 500 m event! These four medal wins were quickly summarized in under two minutes by Mesley; it was like reading a shopping list.  If I was a family member of any of those medal winners that day, I sure would have been ticked off about the inequality of the coverage.

Now I don't mean to be overly critical of CBC's coverage of the games. Overall I thought they did an excellent job. Even now, if you go to their Olympic site, they have a very comprehensive summary of the games. It was just that one edition of The National that got to me. Unfortunately, I think their decision to spend so much time on men's hockey is simply a reflection of many viewers' interests. Maybe it's time for the NHL players to bow out of the Olympics and allow our other deserving athletes to get the attention they deserve.

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