I doubt I was alone in waking up at 5am EST to watch the 'women's and men's heavyweight eights row in the finals this morning. Unfortunately, the women's finished fourth (the official Canadian position) but the men's lead from wire to wire with an amazing performance to wash away the horrible taste that the country had in their mouth after their fifth place finish in Athens. As the story of the men's instense training was told at the medal ceremony an interesting tidbit arose. More depressing than interesting and it speaks to the controversy around Canada's medal haul prior to the weekend (when everyone said the medals would start coming). Apparently, the Great Britain rowing program receives upwards of $12 million in support while Canada's entire rowing program receives...wait for it...$800,000.
It harkens back to the debate of how much money needs to be spent in order to earn a satisfactory number of medals. Canada is a country that has generally prioritized it's spending in a vastly different way than those that are at the top of the medal standings. The decision to focus on the winter games was made because a. we are a land of snow and ice and b. we are hosting them and don't want to be embarrassed in the same way that we were after Montreal. Right now Canada stands at 17th in the overall medal standings and I saw a group of eight men put their lives on hold and pursue their dream with every fibre in their being and I'm happy with the state of affairs. Some want more medals, athletes want more funding, but some people want less money spent on something that they could not care less about for three years and 48 weeks out of every four. At a deeper level, the decision has to be made about how to approach the Olympics at all. Are we going to give some of the hopefuls that have emerged from these games the funding to get to the next level? Are we going to let them continue on their own for the most part? Those are all tough questions but none moreso than this one: What (and when) the fuck is Mats Sundin going to decide on his future?
The questions about the Olympics are esoteric for the most part. People hardly notice the vast majority of the athletes until the Games begin. Funding could be chopped or changed or increased and people would hardly notice. It's all very Canadian. However, the NHL is twelve months a year every year. Ironically, twelve months is almost how long Mats has allowed the question of his future percolate leading to rumours like this one from Larry Brooks. I am starting to question what is so difficult.
The decision basically comes down to this: Do I want to be hated by Leaf fans or loved. Of course, once that one is decided it becomes a little more tiresome. If he wants to be loved does he play or retire? If he decides that he wants to play the heel (Steve Austin had the same shorn dome) then will he be lowering from the rafters in New York, Montreal, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Columbus, or Phoenix? Those last two are not real destinations but this entire things has become so ridiculous that they might as well throw their hat in the ring. Habs fans have even started prediction games to pass the time waiting to see if Mats will be able to get them to the third round of the playoffs before Jim Carey Price collapses. Meanwhile, in Toronto we veer from wanting to continue our undying devotion to The Captain to preparing to lustily boo his image while burning him in effigy outside of the ACC (wow, I just figured out how to get on TV if Mats returns in another jersey). It's all becoming quite tiresome.
Until a decision is made, here are a couple of links. Feel free to toss in any other in the comments:
- 15th in the East? Talk about conflicted.
- Seriously, if there was a medal for fourth place then Canada would be an Olympic powerhouse.
- Men's eight = awesome.
- The swimming program is on the upswing. 26 Canadian records, 10 finals, and a bronze up from 3 records and 3 finals in Athens.
- Canada wins hockey gold (isn't that all that matters) at the U-18 Future Leafs tournament.
- CBC (and TSN) have been amazing in covering these games as per usual. It takes a lot of lumps but deserves praise especially compared to Tape-Delaying, flag-waving, NBC.