It has been an interesting Olympics for Canada, as the nation enjoyed the greatest medal count in its history, yet failed to win a gold medal in all traditional team sport events, a department where Canada has always enjoyed success. Initially, I was disappointed with all the upsets against Canada. But after following the stories of the underdogs that pulled off the upsets, I realised how much of an inspiration they were to their home countries.
When the United States began winning in curling, news outlets began publishing articles introducing the basics of curling, as well as curling workshops opened up across the country during the span of the Olympics. The American enthusiasm in curling continued after the men’s team defeated Sweden to win the gold medal, and became instant superstars when they went home. After Germany knocked off Canada in the hockey semifinals, the response from their fans was unbelievable. It’s through these unlikely victories that nations become interested in new sports, and the Games will only get more competitive and entertaining when more players get involved. I also think that through these achievements, the American curling and German hockey teams just inspired a new generation of young athletes to take up the sport.
The Olympics this year also showed that fans don’t even need to see a winning in order to fall in love with a new sport, just look at the journey of the Korean hockey teams in the men’s and women’s tournaments. This was a nation that embraced a sport that they had little experience in, worked hard to become competitive in, and their fans supported them every step of the way. I am positive that even though both teams did not finish with the results that they would have liked to see, the way in which they were received by their fans would only inspire them to improve.
From these stories, I believe that the Games are a way for spectators across the world to discover every nation’s favourite sport, and by doing so it makes the global community a more familiar and welcoming place. It’s through these shared experiences, whether it’s losing or winning, that people begin to find out that they have more in common than what divides them. At the end of the day, every person just enjoys cheering on their favourite team to win.
I also understand that some might argue the opposite, contending that the Olympics are just another opportunity for harsh nationalism to grow and further raise tensions. But from what I’ve seen this year, the Games are a platform for nations to gain respect and understand each other.
Despite Canada’s shortcomings, I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Olympics as I learned about just how much of an impact these Games can have to make nations more interested in new sports. I hope you also enjoyed reading my thoughts throughout the entire Games, see you back here in 2020.
Above Photo: The stands of Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium light up during the Closing Ceremony. (Christian Hartmann, Reuters)