Sunday, February 15, 2009


Celebrations were held across Canada this week to mark the beginning of a 365 day countdown to the 2010 Vancouver (& Whistler) Olympics. From shining sea to frozen one to other shining sea, our politicians and Olympic Media Rights holders popped champagne corks and began the marketing portion of the pre-Game festivities.

I already have a letter from my bank asking me to carry the Olympic torch over part of its nation-wide hopscotch. I wrote back requesting the Olympus to Santorini leg of the journey, letting them know I am available anytime between now and the Spring thaw.

Our airwaves are also filled with ads for Olympic coins from the Royal Mint, Olympic pins from Coca-cola and "Collectible" Olympic glassware from our local Petro-Canada gas stations. The glasses were apparently a huge hit during the Calgary Olympics in 1988. Although I'd be cautious in believing they will some day be worth a fortune on eBay. There isn't a yard sale in my neighborhood that doesn't feature a ton of these for around 10 cents a dozen.

I also noticed that Petro-Canada's new design no longer features the gold embossed torch and rim that used to flake off if you drank anything stronger than Kool-Aid from them. I guess the nice folks who raped you for gasoline last summer aren't giving back any of the precious metals they bought with their looted booty.

I wonder if it's unleaded glass. We should all go in and ask. But then, they're probably made in China, so you don't have to.

In Vancouver, where the Olympic committee has already cut its souvenir prices in half because nobody's buying them, local taxpayers recently discovered they were on the hook for a Billion dollar shortfall in constructing the Athletes Village/Future Yuppie Condo Enclave (as if Vancouver doesn't have enough of those. This week they learned that the security bill was rising from $175 Million to $1 Billion.

I think all those politicians were drinking champagne to celebrate successfully pulling over another one on us idiot taxpayers. How many Olympics do we have to have in this country before somebody asks those successfully submitting the "lowest bid" for contracts to be on the hook for any overages?

Meanwhile, the CTV and Rogers Media empires rolled out details of broadcast coverage of the 2010 Games, revealing how these two fierce competitors would be following the rest of the world's example and "coming together" in Vancouver to present every hundredth of a second of the Winter Olympics over all of their mutually available platforms.

They waxed on endlessly about how personalities you now only see on one sports channel in one empire would be sharing desk and parka space with their identical others from the opposite empire. Then at the end of the week, their bosses clammed up after the CRTC suggested the convergences they were so happily utilizing would also be taken into account when considering the "historic losses" they're apparently suffering in their free-to-air divisions.

Sorry, Media guys! Seems you can no longer have it both ways.

However, don't take my "characteristically bitter ranting" the wrong way. I love the Olympic Games and will definitely be one of the boobs glued to every second of coverage, be it on TSN (1 or 2), CTV, my BELL mobile phone or my SYMPATICO Internet account -- not to mention whatever sports the Rogers outlets offer and what's only available for download from iTunes.

I just hope one of these Media entities have the courage to offer something Australia's ABC created for the 2000 Sydney Games and has retained as part of their Olympic coverage ever since.

"The Dream".

ABC broadcast every minute of the 2000 Games with all the generosity and respect the visiting nations and their athletes deserved -- until 11:00 pm. At that point, "The Dream" recapped the day's events in a somewhat different manner.

Host sportscasters "Roy & HG" (comedy duo Grieg Pickhaver and John Doyle) presented such things as Greco-Roman wrestling with a Barry White soundtrack and invented new names for the moves in Men's gymnastics including the "Flat Bag", "Dutch Wink" and "Hello Boys".

They also created a new mascot, "Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat" to replace the three official mascots they dubbed "Syd, Ollie, and Dickhead". Fatso became so popular Australian athletes carried him to the medal podium and the Olympic Committee tried to have him banned.

A statue of Fatso has since been erected at Sydney's Olympic Park.

Insulting New Zealanders was also de rigeur on "The Dream". When New Zealand won their first gold in Rowing, Roy remarked that Kiwis were "only good at sitting down and going backwards". As for the former Olympic host city of Atlanta, it was regularly dismissed as "the toilet".

"The Dream" helped keep the Olympics in perspective. Sure they were fun, but does anybody really take prancing around with a ribbon seriously? And if you want to be recognized as one of the politicians or civic movers behind the Games, maybe you should also have to go on TV and exhibit that you have no grasp of simple math.

The next 360+ days are going to be painful for Canadians already tired of the corporatization of the Olympics. And the decades following will be equally painful as we realize that it's us and not Petro-Canada or Coca-Cola who are paying for the cost over-runs.

Finding a Canadian Roy & HG might help us all bear the burden a little easier.

Here are three separate clips of their brilliance. Enjoy your Sunday.

1 comment:

BlaineW. said...

I suppose I'm a hypocrite in that I also manage to watch and enjoy gobs of Olympic coverage - (beating the Americans in the gold medal final at Salt Lake City was heavenly, I will admit, or as close to heaven as a Leaf fan can hope for in this life) - while at the same time wishing they would just leave them and keep them in other countries. I too fear all the inevitable debt we are going to incur from all this at exactly the worst time for it. Something bad is going to happen - the weather will be bad and nobody will be able to make it up that bloody highway. The commercials are already extremely annoying what with all these kids asking me if I believe - and we've still got a whole year to go. And something about the whole enterprise just constantly pisses me off. This Nexus of all things corporate, TV and 'inside-political' is always ugly and the IOC are just a bunch of corrupt wankers who need to get real jobs. I wish we could have voted on this first. God help us all if Toronto ever actually succeeds in landing this unholy beast.