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Maxed out 1703

A (1998) post-Olympic report

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I'm on holiday, lost in the jungles of Costa Rica. There's no truth to the rumour the trip is VANOC's first installment in the Shut Him Up fund, though I am a bit concerned about getting back into the country. In case the Internet and I haven't connected or jaguars have eaten my computer, here's an encore performance of a previous Olympic-themed column to keep the ball rolling.

 

And the winner is....

Winners and losers have been much in the news for the past couple of weeks. The spectacle of the Olympics has this way of making even the lesser sports-minded among us focus on winning and losing.

So who won and who lost?

Ironically, the biggest winner wasn't the Games in Nagano. The Iraqi people won the biggest prize of all. The Olympics afforded them the chance to miss being bombed even further into the Dark Ages. The United Nations, agreed to wait until the Olympics were over before unleashing the dogs of war to ensure peace. This could have been a humanitarian gesture but I suspect members of the Security Council had some side bets on Olympic events and wanted them to unfold without interruption.

Postponing the Crusade created winners and losers though. CNN, NewsWorld and other all-news stations lost big audiences who would have otherwise been glued to their screens to see the first-hand carnage of "smart" bombs surgically obliterating their targets. This loss of big-bang news meant CBS, who carried the Olympics in the USA, was a winner, of sorts. Actually, CBS was a loser since they managed to bore people out of their minds in record numbers with their jingoistic, Disneyesque Olympic Moments, but if more people had been watching the UN synchronized aerial bombing team taking out Iraqi daycare centres, CBS would have had an even bigger stinker on their hands.

Canada was a huge winner. The podium ceremonies for new Olympic sports were dominated by maple leafs. Canucks brought home gold in snowboarding, not without controversy but finally giving some meaning to this year's Whistler Blackcomb slogan, "Higher Ground". And a team of very nice ladies from Regina mined gold in curling. Their victory proved not all Olympians need be young and well-muscled. It also showed the world there is at least one highly popular, competitive sport even less well suited to television than snooker.

It would have been nice to see the Canadian women's hockey team put the hurt on the U.S. and cinch Canada's place in the U.S. psyche as the new, post-cold war, sports boogie monster, but the puck fell the other way. Silver was a respectable finish though, and more important than who won - something never said by the team who actually wins - was level of play, the skill and finesse on the ice and the strangely arousing sight of women in big pads body checking the snot out of each other. You've come a long way, baby; don't hurt me.

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