At first it seemed the 2014 Winter Olympics wouldn’t attract the interest that the Vancouver Games did. After all, when they were “our games” in “our back yard,” we all took ownership of them and we all felt that we had some sort of hand in making sure they were successful.
This time around they are on the other side of the world, and we all scowled at the thought of having to be up at 6 a.m. to watch an event or having a hockey game take place while we were going to be at work. After all, they replay the events during the evening, so we could watch them then.
But as the day of the opening ceremonies arrived, many of us had our televisions, iPhones, laptops or desktops tuned in on Sochi. We just wanted to see if they could do as good a job as we did. We would just watch for a minute.
But we sat down and the next thing we knew we were right in the stands cheering the athletes. Our chores and office work had been put on hold. We felt pride seeing the Canadian flag enter, and because I have a niece on the Canadian women’s biathlon team, I almost felt like I was walking in with them.
Having had the honour to run with the Olympic torch in Langley, I figured I should at least watch until the flame came into the arena. When it appeared, I was totally unprepared for the goose bumps that scurried over my body. I suddenly realized the connection I would forever have with that experience.
So now there was only a few minutes left in the ceremonies, so I might as well watch it until the end. They did OK, it was a good show, and we all smugly smiled when the last snowflake didn’t turn into an Olympic ring. After all, nobody’s perfect.
Before we knew it , we were up early watching sports we know little about. We moan when a maple falls and cheer when it’s displayed on the podium. If a gold medal performance is on, we ignore the phone or tell someone to take a message. Our hearts sink when our hero slips on the ice and we fist pump and cheer when our skip makes a tough double take-out. Our coaches and athletes are winning on and off the tracks, with their sportsmanlike actions.
We flick from hockey to bobsled and downhill to cross country. We become experts at luge and we berate Russian judges and referees because we always berate Russian judges and referees.
My niece is not having a good Olympics and she tells her Mom she is sorry for disappointing people. Does she know how excited we are that she is one of a handful of women in the world competing at that level, where a few seconds separate a gold medal from 40th place?
I hope our athletes know that proud fathers and uncles are talking about them in Tim Hortons, and grandmothers and mothers are praying for them in church pews, just to do their best and be safe.
Admit it, we’re hooked. When you notice the guy in the car next you cheering it doesn’t mean he got a good deal on his car insurance, he’s probably just one more Canadian listening to our boys on the rink.
Go Canada Go! At least that’s what McGregor says.