REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION

Greetings,

Today marked Day 2 of the G.O.P’s national convention in New York City. Madison Square Garden is under the tighest security you can possibly imagine over the next few days; it’s not surprising, given the fact that President George W. Bush and his loyal band of delegates all happen to be in New York City, are heading into September and MSG is right on top of a subway station – all relatively dangerous factors for a convention of this size.

President Bush made a major blunder earlier today when he commented on the War on Terror in a pre-taped interview with NBC News: “I don’t think you can win it,” he said. Bush then added on, “I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.”

Oops. Not even the most die-hard Republican would be pleased with that omission of vulnerability.

Tonight’s the big night for the G.O.P. with the appearance of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Laura Bush. It’s all very interesting (although not particularly exciting; the Republicans’ celebrity endorsements peaks with LeeAnn Wolmack and other country music sensations like Brooks & Dunn – no big names here).

Outside, however… things are a little bit different.

The anti-Republican and anti-Bush protestors outside of MSG are involved in one of the largest public demonstrations of dissent in U.S. history. Yet Republicans will no doubt benefit from the optics of “Barbarians At The Gate” in shoring up support in their key regions like the Mid-West. The New York tactic works because liberal New York City is viewed by many Middle Americans as inherently different than the rest of the country. Having New York protestors on TV only makes the Republicans stronger in the core areas of support.

It’s a premise that only Karl Rove could love.

Advertisements

FINAL THOUGHTS ON ATHENS

Greetings,

Well the games of the 28th Olympiad are officially over: the closing ceremonies (which wern’t all that impressive in comparison to the opening ceremonies, incidently) ended what was certainly a great Summer Games. Generally speaking, of course.

Athens did a fantastic job, organizing what was supposed to be a potential disaster: terrorist fears, bad planning and other problems could have ruined the Games. But none of that happened, and Athens will benefit from these Games for decades to come. Whether the country can pay for them is another matter, but that’s not something the city needs to deal with for a bit yet. All that matters is that Athens did a terrific job, and it was a fantastic Games.

This being said, Canada’s role in the Olympics was hardly the stuff of legend.

We dipped in the medals again this year to a mere 12 over-all. That’s down from Sydney’s 14 medal total and the decline seems to be having a ripple effect across the sports world: IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge will be taking a trip to Ottawa to discuss Canada’s sub-par Olympic funding and how this may affect the Vancouver 2010 results (and if there’s one thing that Canadians take action on, it’s how powerful neighbours or allies perceive us, good or bad).

Canada’s poor performance has become front-page news throughout Canada; The Globe reported today that Stephen Owen, Minister of State For Sport, isn’t interested in putting money into high-performance athletes and more so into school level funding. I don’t get this. Again, we’re dragging our heels on this issue and refusing to acknowledge the reality we’re a second-tier nation in terms of amateur athletics. What will it take to make Canadians and the federal government realize we’re not even remotely close to being an international sports power anymore?

Part of this has to do with our extremely annoying pre-occupation with the cult of hockey. Hockey is our most important sport, no doubt, and with the World Cup of Hockey about to start our national jingoism will be hyped up to stunning and irritating proportions once again. But hockey isn’t everything. We need to do more for other sports. Unlike my friend Mike McNair, who has the idea that our sports funding is adequate and we’re not spending it correctly, we need to take a serious and hard look at our sports culture and, honestly, do what Australia is doing. Mike’s right that throwing money at athletes isn’t the solution per se, but he’s wrong in the sense that investing in resources for athletes isn’t worthwhile. Australia has got the system right, because they reward high achievers and don’t do the whole egalitarian “everybody deserves something” approach to Canadian social policy. Sports isn’t social policy – isn’t the whole point of sports to be competitive? Why not reward our best athletes when they achieve as opposed to using bureaucratic solutions to funding issues?

Case in point: Calgary. The Calgary Olympics left a legacy of sports facilities that are world-class and have created an entire generation of amazing speed skaters. Isn’t that evidence enough?

When we will we realize that pretending to be world-class isn’t the same as being world-class?

WHOA!

Greetings,

Arguably one of the strangest stories I’ve ever heard of popped up on this interweb thing today: a man in Winnipeg named Jim Sulkers was found Wednesday in his apartment after being dead for two years.

This story is even stranger because apparently Mr. Sulkers’ condo fees and bills were automatically deducted from his chequing account, and nobody thought the wiser that he might be dead.

BAD, BAD NEWS FOR CANADA

Greetings,

I wish I could be writing this posting under happier circumstances, but I can’t. Perdita Felicien fell today in the women’s 100-metre hurdles final, denying her the gold medal.

Honestly, as a fan and Canadian supporter, this stinks. Big time. I feel especially bad for Felicien, given that she was the person to beat in this competition.

I’m no longer going to write postings on the Athens Summer Olympics until the closing ceremonies.

KYLE SHEWFELT AND PERDITA FELICIEN

Greetings,

After a very good weekend showing by Canada at these now-winding down Athens Summer Olympics, Kyle Shewfelt got royally stiffed by the gymnastics judges in the vault competition. We all know the story by now; Shewfelt hits his two jumps well, yet mysteriously Marian Dragulescu of Romania somehow manages to win the bronze in spite of falling in his second jump.

Far be it for Canadians to complain about lousy judging at the Olympics (cough, cough, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, figure skating, cough), but why does this stuff keep happening? Politics isn’t supposed to be part of an apolitical event like the Olympics last time I checked, yet in sports that seem to require judges like figure skating or gymnastics, it always creeps in sooner or later. Figure skating will be watched closely at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino for the judging nonsense of Salt Lake City; gymnastics needs a serious rethink in terms of its’ own judging practices because, honestly, it’s stunning that Shewfelt lost the bronze based on two very good vaults.

Credit goes to Shewfelt – he’s a total class act and he’s our only gold medalist so far. He’s suddenly made these games not a total loss for Canada. Speaking of which, the glorious Perdita Felicien is oh-so-close to the gold medal in the 110-metre hurdles. Keep your fingers crossed – Felicien deserves the gold completely and like Shewfelt, she’s a total class act. Besides, since Gail Devers is out after an ill-fated comeback attempt (no disrespect to Devers intended, just that an athlete should know when to quit while you’re ahead) the field is pretty thin after Felicien.

OLYMPICS TURNAROUND?

Greetings,

Well this weekend is shaping up to be the turning point for Canada at the Athens Summer Games. The men’s four in the rowing competition won a silver medal this morning and there’s another two rowing teams in the finals of their respective events. Congrats to the men’s four!

I think a lot of people have been down on Canadian athletes this past week (it’s not undeserved entirely) but this could be the turning point in the Games. Hopefully we’ll see a gold medal this weekend and the Canadian national anthem being played. Keep your fingers crossed.

Incidently, major props go out to Michael Phelps, the American swimmer who won an incredible five gold medals and two bronze medals at these Summer Games. Phelps dropped out of the 4 x 100 medley relay final to give his teammate Ian Crocker a chance to win a gold medal. Phelps didn’t win the seven gold medals he was gunning hard for at these Games but he tied Mark Spitz’s record-setting four individual gold medals and set the pool ablaze with his unbelievable speed and technique. Plus, he’s got a great sense of sportsmanship by doing what he’s doing for Crocker. The swimming competition was fantastic these Games; Phelps, Ian Thorpe, the Australian and U.S. relay teams, the South Africans surprising everyone, the French finally winning a medal in the pool – it’s too bad to see the swimming events completed.