The Vancouver Winter Olympics present a very big, very public and very easy target for all sorts of malcontents. There are the protesters on the outside, the detractors in the media, the critics on all sides who love to pour water on a party. The Winter Olympics have not been without their tragic moments from the death of a competitor to the injured athletes, disappointed fans and personal family moments for athletes and spectators both. Notwithstanding all of that, I for one, have been absolutely thrilled with the games, the athletes, the competition and the spectacle. Congratulations Vancouver, you have done a terrific job in the public glare. The President and CEO of the games, John Furlong has been a class act from day one and deserves credit for maintaining composure and demonstrating what good grace means in the face of events beyond his control.
CTV and the other Canadian networks, TSN and Sportsnet have done a fabulous job in presenting the events and stories of the Olympics and while I maintain my right to be a complete skeptic when I feel like it - but not right now. Brian Williams has been the media face of the Olympics forever it seems and I know that some people do not like his "in-your-face style - and I mean "in your face" in a good way - I think he does an outstanding job. He seems to hit just the right note of news, personal committment and insider, all at the same time. Sometimes he almost seems to be a little too familiar in his style but for the most part, he provides a human face to the Games and gets it right. Keep it up Brian - you are authentic and an unabashed fan of Canadian athletes - good for you! The Olympic coverage has been first rate and some of the features on the athletes provide the viewer with a story that is very compelling and gives us an insight to people that we really don't know much about otherwise. Rick Hansen was an inspired choice to host The Difference Makers series of vignettes that have been known to spark more than a few tears around the country - excellent job.
I suppose that as a die hard hockey fanatic, I should reserve opinion on the Olympics until we see how the Canadian team does, but that is my point - I do not want any singular event to influence my overall impression of the professionalism that these games have presented. There have been many emotional tugs, most of which have gone beyond the sport itself to the humanity that has been on display. It feels really good to understand a little better what the athletes and their families and coaches are feeling and experiencing and I am absolutely impressed and thrilled with Canada's pride and willingness to wave the flag - great job.
The "Own the Podium Program" has come under fire from some cynical sources but I do not think we should be too quick to judge. What is wrong with stating that we - we athletes, we citizens, we fans want to be successful? I know that it has not been the Canadian way in the past but it is time that it was. Some circles are dubbing the program a failure because we are not in first place in the medal hunt - baloney! Who out there expected that our nation of 30+ million was going to garner more medals than our friends and competitors south of the border with a population of 300+ million? It is absolutely a step in the right direction - way to go Canada.
So, way to go Vancouver, way to go CTV and associates and WAY TO GO CANADIAN ATHLETES!!!! We are proud of you for your inspiring efforts and courage. You are all GOLD.