Sportsmanship at the Olympics

I love the Olympics, particularly the winter ones. A lot of people say this, and it’s absolutely true — nobody gives a damn about luge, bobsled, or cross-country skiing at any other time, but during the Olympics, we’re all glued to it. Same in the summer – am I ever likely to sit and watch a swimming or gymnastics competition outside of the Olympics? Not a chance, and yet during the Olympics, I have no problem watching that stuff — actually, I really enjoy watching Olympic gymnastics. The combination of grace and strength is amazing.

A couple of things about the Games so far – an American hockey player has been complaining about the Canadian women’s hockey team “running up” the score in their first two games, saying that it was disrespectful to the other teams. Hogwash. The Italian coach said before the game that he was hoping to keep the goal differential to “under 20” (and they did – the final score was 16-0). They knew they were playing a powerhouse team, and fully expected to be blown away. At the same time, Canada is playing to win the Gold, and one of the factors if there are ties in the standings is goal differential, so it’s in their best interest to score as many goals as they can. Personally, I think that not playing to the best of your ability and just passing the puck around, trying not to score would be more disrespectful, essentially telling the other team “not only are you not going to win, but we’re not even going to bother trying”.

Major kudos to the Norwegian cross-country skiing coach who gave a Canadian skier a new pole during the race when the Canadian’s pole broke. The Canadians ended up winning a Silver medal, while the Norwegians finished fourth. That’s the embodiment of the “Olympic spirit” and good sportsmanship right there. Funny part: the coach said that it was no big deal, but that he wouldn’t have done it for the Swedes.


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