What burned my bottom was the barrage of comments that followed the article. Hundreds of people weighing in on whether NHL players should, indeed, be allowed to play hockey at the Olympics. People are allowed their opinion on the issue. Fine. What got me, was the amount of people that, in the mindset of keeping the NHLers out of the Olympics, spoke of the games as being a competition intended for the amateur athlete.
Burns my bottom!
Here's the thing. I love the Olympic games. I love the surge of patriotism that unites the country for those few short weeks. From the opening to closing ceremonies, I have goosebumps. I admit to tearing up in the midst of the stories of great victories, golden or otherwise. I surge with pride when it comes to stories like the one that circulated about our Canadian ski coach who jumped on the track to help a Russian competitor. I'm on the edge of my seat for ice dancers and bob sledders and speed skaters and curlers. I'm amazed by the speed (or airtime!) of our skiers, the finesse of our slopestyle athletes, the bravery of our skeleton sliders. They amaze me. #wearewinter
All that said, there's no one in our house denying that hockey is the sport that has our attention. If hockey is on, we'll catch replays of the others. We cheer on our men and women's teams with a fervor that the other events just don't receive. We won't be happy with less than double gold for our men's and women's teams. I admit it.
So back to where I started: NHL players in the Olympics and the games being for the amateur athlete.
Simply put, let's have the best of the best in EVERY sport representing their countries. That, to me, is the intention of the games. If that's NHL players, so be it. A two week break is not that big a deal for the league and a certain level of patriotism and "playing nice" with the rest of the world might just go a long way in actually aiding the cause of the business men behind it.
Here's where I get angry and defensive though. The games are NOT for amateurs. To say so takes away from the incredible athleticism and character of individuals competing. Of all of them. These people are class act. A gold medalist cross country skier waits 28 minutes for the last place athlete to finish and congratulates him ? That seems pretty professional to me. Or what about ALL the athletes who make this their life's work and goal, sacrificing so much in pursuit of their dream? They live and breathe this stuff. They train. They compete throughout the year. They compete through injuries that would absolutely take out the rest of us. They work to make themselves better. They may not be on national television with kids across the country wearing their name on their back or have agents working on multi-million dollar contracts but they are professionals in their own right.. more "professional" in character and in the way they represent their sport than what I've seen from a few NHL players out there. Professional speed skaters. Professional skiers and snowboarders. Professional bobsledders. Professional figure skaters. Professional curlers. Professional hockey players.
Perhaps we need to reconsider how we define "professional" but, for now, its enough for me to recognize that these athletes are good. They are the best we have. And they should all have the honor of using that skill and dedication to represent their countries at the games.
Perhaps if we acknowledge the professionalism of sport for what it is in the other endeavors and supported our athletes accordingly, we'd see an even greater level of success and achievement by our athletes on the world stage. The other countries wouldn't stand a chance!
I'm proud of our athletes. I'm proud of what they've achieved so far. Yes, Team Canada, indeed #wearewinter
|(C) Team Canada #wearewinter campaign|