It’s the best of times, and the worst -

It’s the best of times, and the worst

Some see all the glory of the Games. To others they are an abomination. Both have a point.


It's the best of times, and the worst

With the beginning of the Olympics, the attention of the world is now fixed squarely on Vancouver and Whistler, and you know what that means: this is the perfect time to steal the world’s stuff. Cover me while I swipe the Mona Lisa (thanks, I owe you one) and Coldplay’s instruments (now you owe me).

There are those who contend that the Olympics are an athletic Kumbaya to the world, a bonding experience in which we are all spiritually enriched by the pulse-pounding thrill of assorted Scandinavians proceeding downhill quadrennially. There are others who believe the Games are a folly, an abomination, a…a…a follomination!—not to mention a great way to keep in tip-top protestin’ shape between G8 meetings.

In truth, there are pros and cons to the Olympics. Let’s take a look:

Pro: The Games are good for our national reputation. As a country, we can take pride in not having to face Beijing’s PR woes—the censorship, the air pollution, the part where they pretended to look puzzled when IOC members lifted the rugs in their hotel rooms and found four million political dissidents. That said, B.C. presents its own unique challenges. That’s why organizers are scrambling to ensure all visitors receive a complimentary English-to-Stoner dictionary.

Con: The Games are bad for our personal self-esteem. The athletes gathered now in B.C. are so physically perfect it’s as though they’re not the same species as the rest of us (thanks to growth hormones, this may literally be true for some). Point is: it’s difficult to feel any sort of human connection with people who have never been distracted during a romantic evening stroll by the sound of their thighs rubbing together.

Pro: The Games teach important life lessons. If, for instance, your goal is to be successful, then Olympic women’s hockey can show you how—all you need to do is focus on a pursuit at which everyone else on earth sucks. Let’s face it: members of our national women’s squad could treat the second period of each game as a bonspiel and still they couldn’t do worse than silver. Maybe we need to take it a step further and start excelling at events that don’t even exist yet, so we get a four-year head start. Olympic spectators of 2014: prepare yourselves for Canada’s domination in the aerial bobsleigh.

Con: A national panic will set in if Canada hasn’t won 17 medals by, say, the end of the opening ceremonies. Amateur sport officials will go into hiding. Politicians will begin demanding answers. Media pundits will be left with no option but to stroke their chins judgmentally.

Pro: The Olympics encourage the dreamer in us all to aspire to new achievements. Mark my words: someday, eventually, the Canadian Olympic Committee will see the ratings wisdom of my proposal to have the team outfitted not by the Bay but by Victoria’s Secret.

Con: If the 2010 Games follow the historical pattern, Canadian corporations will once again buy a record amount of advertising space on the host broadcaster—and use it to run the same bloody commercial over and over. Why? Because they hate us. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

Remember the 2006 Winter Olympics and the Tim Hortons commercial featuring the cranky and mean “Not Just Hockey All the Time” dad? (I don’t because I had that part of my brain removed—now I can’t drive or hum, but I still think I made the right choice.)

Wait, it’s all coming back to me: the dad was always on his son’s case about studying, but it turns out the dad would go to the arena on the sly and watch his kid play—but never tell his kid that he watched him play. And then 20 years later the kid is grown up and he’s all: Gee Dad, you were a slave-driving autocrat who made my childhood a living hell and embarrassed me in front of my friends. But hey, thanks for the double-double—now we’re even! Sure, makes total sense.

Pro: The drug cheats. Let’s be honest: they’re entertaining. The mood swings, the cartoonish muscles, the telltale third arm. And whom among us doesn’t enjoy the excuses that invariably follow a positive test? “There must have been a mistake in the sample.” “I must have got it from a toilet seat.” “A Ninja assassin must have shot me with a poison dart.” A small favour: I for one would really appreciate it if one of this year’s drug cheats could raise the bar on overreaction—maybe turn green and smash some stuff, or hurl Cypress Mountain into the Pacific.

Con: The sliding sports. Coverage of the luge consists of two diverse visual experiences. First, there is the regular-speed footage. At regular speed, each competitor is rendered an indistinguishable blur accompanied by an identical whoosh. This is about as fascinating to watch as a Road Runner cartoon without the Coyote. The other kind of footage is the super-duper slo-mo replay, and all that does is make hundreds of millions of people worldwide suddenly crave Jell-O.