Beat your personal best
John Dowson August 23, 2008
When did win and success become dirty words? Only in Canada is winning a dirty word and Canadians who become successful are viewed with disdain. No one knows for certain where this attitude came from or why we continue to maintain it into the 21st century, but there it is, pervasive through the Canadian mindset. Like many Canadians I watched the TV coverage of the Beijing Olympics on CBC TV, sometimes live in the wee hours of the morning and like most of us during the first week of competition I was sadden not only by the lack of a medal, but where the team member placed. But our wonderfully up beat Canadian TV sports announcers and their colour commentators, made us feel good when over and over they emphasized the winning spirit of the true north strong and free. Even though a Canadian competitor had finished dead last in the race the announcer would proclaim to the world “she/he has just beaten their Personal Best”. That phase was later shorted by the print media to PB, perhaps because after a week of competition it was over worked. The TV commentators soon picked up on this and they also began to use “PB”. To highlight this point when a Canadian athlete, who had just lost a race was interviewed at pool side or on their way to the dressing room they, mouth the now familiar phrase “I was pleased with my performance and I beat my personal best”. The other insufferable comment we kept hearing was “ even though she/he finished seventh out of a field of eight she/he beat the Canadian record” If a Canadian record is the measure of success of a Canadian athlete why send them to the Olympics to compete against the best in the world.
For centuries successive Canadian governments have given slipshod support to their athlete’s endeavors. They have failed to provide them with world class sports facilities, and coaches. The Olympics is the most prestigious sporting event in the world, a once in a lifetime achievement for an athlete and for Canada to send an under achieving team of over 200 athletes to the worlds premier sporting event is not only an embarrassment to the country it’s a humiliating experience for the athletes. I cannot for a minute imagine Canada sending an under achieving hockey team to the world cup to “beat their personal best”, how would Canadians react?
Oh, Canada did win some medals during the second week of competition, and we crowed about that, but compared to Australia, a country with less population, with world class sports facilities that hires the best coaches in the world, Canada’s performance was pretty uninspiring. Will Canada send a team to the next summer Olympics in London to win, (there’s that dirty word again), or to just go there to beat their personal best? Canada must decide if summer sports are important enough to provide the national facilities and coaching necessary to “win”, or don’t send a team at all. In Prime Minister Stephen Harpers parlance “it’s time to fish or cut bait”.
My picture file is corrupt, and so am I.
Early shot at me and pal Neil Campbell in the music business....Unconscious grandstanding, I guess.