Sunday, February 21, 2010

Funding Olympic Sports

There have been some magnificent stories during these Winter Games, and it has been exciting watching the scattered successes and Canadian pride on parade every day in Vancouver. I am delighted that we have had the opportunity to host these games, and now I am trying to make up my mind on future federal funding of Olympic sports. I supported the "Own the Podium" campaign because I am a fan of the Winter Olympics and I wanted to increase our probability of winning medals through increased funding. But having watched what our increased spending has yielded on the field of battle, I'm not satisfied, and I am not willing to spend more.

I am trending to the opinion that I think any federal spending on athletics should be at the youth level, aged high school or younger. Building and maintaining facilities for them to compete, ensuring that young people have the opportunity to participate in recreational competition. I think that benefits us as a society. But I'm sorry, the story "26 year old Johnny just wants to ski jump all day every day to pursue his dream of an Olympic medal, but he can't ski jump all day and make enough money to support his lifestyle" it's not pulling at my heart strings anymore. I support spending on youth programs and athletic infrastructure to promote healthy living, but am turning my back on the idea of federally subsidized salaries for adult athletes.

As a consumer and a sports fan I will purchase products endorsed by amateur athletes. I will pay money to attend events or to use various recreational facilities and put money back into the system. But I have become more skeptical of government funding for the adult programs. I will have to investigate further exactly how much money is being spent, and where cuts could be made. To start, I would like to pull any and all funding for our alpine ski program, even if that draws the ire of Nancy Greene. Sorry guys, it's not working out for me. If we are going to knock down Kevin Page's "structural deficit" then we will have to make some difficult choices. Some choices are a lot easier than others.

There once was a time when I believed that we should model the Australian system and spend the money. But now I only want to provide young people with the opportunity to compete, and once you grow up you are not entitled to a career. I'm sure that athletics represents a tiny fraction of our total expenditures and that we won't be saving an enormous sum of money by cutting funding, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single DNF.

And why is it that I am now required to feel empathy when an athlete wipes out? Is it now politically incorrect to say "dude, that sucked"? That ski cross guy today was a spectacular failure. Now we have fallen behind Switzerland and Korea in the medal standings.


  1. I think Own the Podium has been a huge victory.

    We're probably going to win the most golds in our nation's history.

    We're probably going to be the country with the most golds at an Olympics for the first time in our nation's history.

    They only play your anthem for a gold. You're only at the top of the podium if its a gold.

    To me that's the definition of owning the podium and to me that's a success.

    I think gov't funding should stay at current levels but that doesn't mean we can't agressively encourage more private donations, more corporate sponsorships.

    The PM could host a benefit or even a telethon with our recent winners this spring for instance.

  2. I agree Iceman. We should be looking for winners, not elitist rich kids and ski bums who always seem to let us down when it comes to the Olympics.

  3. Congratulation to Canada’s best friends, the USA who once again demonstrated the concept of “American exceptionism”, just as they did by liberating Iraq.
    Also, it once again illustrated how a hot goalie can make the difference in a game between two equal team.
    Congratulation America!


  4. Canada has to play Germany to keep going.
    And the Swiss weren't supposed to take us to the wire, either.

    Time to get the professionals involved again.