What Would You Do With $37 Million?

The Canadian Olympic Committee announced earlier today that they would be pledging $37 million to Own the Podium over the next four years, an increase from the $25 million pledged between 2009 and 2012. This funding comes from the private sector, and amounts to nearly a 50% increase for the next quad. While no details have yet been released on how the money is going to delegated among sport science and research, and the various sport’s National Governing Organizations (you can find the amount that has been delegated to specific sports on the Own the Podium website), the amount of money is nonetheless an incredible advance in the support of Canada’s high performance athletes.

“We know it takes a village to raise a champion,” stated COC President Marcel Aubut this morning. Anne Merklinger, CEO of Own the Podium, said “Canadians love hearing our national anthem and see the Canadian flag raised above the Olympic and Paralympic podium.” National Team Ice Dancer Kaitlyn Weaver said that competing for Canada on the world stage is her greatest accomplishment.

AVSvictoria said “If the government was really interested in supporting sports and athletics, they would invest money in elementary and high school physical education programs. This is what will give us a healthier population, more Olympic quality athletes in the future, and more Olympic medals.” Spondytoo said “Where exactly would we find out the compensation packages and expenses of the COC and OTP crowd?” Phritz stated” Screw the olympics! …unnecessary and boring! Give it to the food banks to feed the mentally ill and hungry youth/parents and create some affordable housing for the homeless! No one would miss the olympics anyways!”

AVSvictoria apparently thinks Olympic championships are made in high school gym classes. I sincerely hope Spondytoo is protesting a lot of norms in our society, considering that the NHL salary cap for the 2013-2014 season was $64.3 million dollars, and the combined salary of the top five players in the NHL far exceeded $37 million. And I would like inform Phritz, that since 2001, Canada has invested $305 million in fighting homelessness across the country.

Call me an activist, or call me a super-fan. I believe that our Canadian athletes have EVERY right to fight for gold, not only in Sochi but in Rio, Peyeong Chang, and Tokyo. I would challenge any Canadian to watch Sidney Crosby’s “Golden Gold” from Vancouver in 2010 and not feel a hint a pride. These athletes do not belong to major professional leagues, whose earnings easily go into the double digits of millions. These athletes don’t get the same media attention, the Hollywood treatment wherever they go, and ESPN analysts debating your every move for points (yup, I’m making fun of you, Fantasy Football). These athletes function under a system of where their successes and failures are reminiscent of a gopher- they pop up, then they vanish. Every two years, we celebrate their accomplishments and cry when they reach the podium and sing along when they get gold (Adam Kreek in 2008 anyone?). How can we cheer them on and shout “Go Canada Go” from our living room couches without supporting their struggle and their process leading up to the Games? This $37 million might not make a massive difference in Sochi, but I hope Canadians are intelligent enough to understand the difference those funds will make in 2016, and 2018.

With glowing hearts, we see thee rise, the true North strong and free. And on top of the podium, with tears in our eyes and gold on their necks.

I do not own the photos or quotes associated with this post

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