A little late I know… but I’ve been out of province for two weeks on a sort of vacation (first week was work, second week was actual vacation).
But I did manage to still see lots of Olympic coverage while away. It was nice to finally see Canada get some well deserved medals after some close calls.
As I reflect on our performance at the Olympics compared to some other countries, and after watching some sports that I really enjoy where Canada was not represented I had to ask myself, “Why did we not qualify in this sport?”
The sports I’m referring to are the likes of basketball (both men and women), soccer (men), beach volleyball (both men and women) to name a few. There’s also the question of our lower than usual medal count in the pool and in track and field.
My question is this, “Why don’t we excel in more sports, or at least have more quality representation in more sports?” I think the answer is simple in many ways.
Yes, I really think hockey is the answer to why we don’t do well in the Olympics. How much money do we as a nation (government, corporate, personal) pour into hockey in the run of a year. I’d wager hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars are spent on hockey each and every year in our country.
Now it’s good that lots of kids are active in hockey. But given the reality that 99.99% of these kids have no future in hockey, what if we encouraged kids to try other sports? What would that look like if there were nearly as many kids playing basketball, baseball, hockey, volleyball as hockey? What if we took just 40% of the money directed towards hockey and began to fund other sports as attractive options for youth?
I would venture that our competitive level these sports would increase exponentially over the next decade. The extra funding would allow more kids to play, it would allow greater training opportunities and experience for coaches, it would definitely raise our international competitive level, and also allow more kids to be active in sports. Let’s face it, not every kid wants to play hockey, nor can every family afford it.
It is my hope that my own children will try out many sports when they are young (and none will likely be hockey since we can’t afford it) and choose one or two to be their main sports so they can remain active all year round.
There’s also all the other individual sports that need to be considered as well. I think we as a nation need to determine which sports we want to do well in. We’ll always be a power in hockey, that’s a given. But there are so many other sports where, if we make funding available, we’ll be a power as well.
I have played with some very good basketball, volleyball and soccer players in my life. But because these sports are not seen in our country as “career sports” these people were forced to look elsewhere to make a living. Possibly denying our country the opportunity to have them on national teams because they weren’t on the radar as potential candidates for national teams due to lack of coaching and recruiting resources.
It’s a shame in many ways that we aren’t a greater international presence in more sports, but it all comes down to the priorities of those of us who put our children into programs and how government and businesses invest in the physical health of the youth of our nation.
Just a few thoughts… this rant is over for now 🙂