"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt, in a speech given in 1910 in Paris
This week those words are oh, so true. After hearing all the water cooler talk about the Olympics, those words ring so true: may a call go out to all armchair quarterbacks... get in the game or get off the loudspeaker. For those who hadn't read Justine's pre-Olympic post (http://www.swimupstreamlife.com/2008/07/winning-at-all-costs.html), let me implore you to do so.
For all those people who ask "why can't Canada win more medals than Michael Phelps alone?" let us remember that this year in swimming alone 16 national records have fallen. Not good enough? That's their job? Wrong. Taylor Milne, one of Canada's running hopefuls (1500m) pumped gas to get where he is and is hoping to receive "A Card" status as a nationally sponsored athlete- which pays $1500 a month. According to Google- Greek Gold medalists can look forward to a $275,000 pay off. From his sponsors, Michael Phelps will receive $1 million if he completes the 8-gold medal sweep he is attempting.
Armed with this, if you want to bitch about something, bitch about how low a priority athletics (particularly the summer games) are in Canada. Ever wonder why we are disproportionately represented by French-Canadian athletes? Simple- Quebec as a province has the highest funding for amateur sport. Blame your government if you want to, or yourself for not donating to the cause - but don't dare blame someone working their ass off for at best $1500 a month when 90% of us can't make it to the treadmill after work.
We as a public simply do not have the right or the relevant experience to complain about our athletes performance, skill, effort, or results.
If you think this lesson applies simply to Canada's gold medal count- think again.
Ever given your wife advice on how to raise 3 kids and maintain a household (4 jobs) while you were busy at work (1 job)?
Ever bitched behind the scenes on how your boss could do so much better to motivate the team while you spent the whole workday on facebook or playing computer solitaire?
The fact is you do not always know better. It is easy to bitch, talk down, or judge. It is infinitely tougher to block the bitching of the masses out so that you can reach towards impossible goals... all so that those same fickle people can cheer for you.
Get the message folks- those Olympians are proud to represent a great country to live in. Chastising the efforts of the best we have to offer (whether they finish 4th or 104th) is characteristically UNCANADIAN.
Let's give our heads a shake and watch an artform we are only lucky enough to witness every 4 years.