In sports, everyone is a winner—some people just win better than others. Like Canadians, who became the most successful Olympic hosts ever by not acting like a bunch of Canadians. Nice countries finish last, you know.
The Olympics are not about winning. (Except for the medals.) They're about the glory of amateurs (except for those who get paid to be athletes) uniting nations (who prefer to be at each other's throats) through the spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship. (Sometimes this involves punching.) Usually, when a nation asks to host the Games they even pretend to believe in that nonsense. Not Canada.
Routinely mocked for their excessive politeness and decorum, the Canadians were unabashed in their desire to claim the most hardware. They created a very public "Own The Podium" campaign, designed to funnel money and resources into as many sports as possible. They stifled access to their very tricky (and deadly) outdoor courses so that other countries would be at a decided disadvantage when it came to practice time. They also enlisted a U.S. citizen named Gary Bettman in a decade-long initiative to convince Americans that hockey is stupid, thereby ensuring their continued dominance of the sport. Very canny.
Oh, sure. At times it was a disaster. The Canadians were slaughtered in the overall medal count and with less than a week to go, their "Blown the Podium" idea was in shambles. Then out of nowhere, came a late rally. Bobsledding. Curling. Speed skating. The Canucks blew by the traditional powers in the final weekend, running away with 14 gold medals. Not only the most by a Canadian team, but the most by any team ever. Oh, and they drew up a miraculous story book ending in front of the whole world delivered by their greatest superstar in the biggest moment of the most important event. That's nice, I guess.
So bully for them. I won't even make the condescending point that yesterday's hockey victory meant more to them than it ever would have to the United States, because that would just be sour grapes. (Even if its true.) The moral of the story, as always, is that greed is good. Oh, and don't do drugs, kids.
Scoffs and sneers can't break our cheers: Games win gold [Vancouver Sun]
Games inspire true patriot love [Edmonton Journal]
The Games that changed a nation [National Post]