6 years ago when Vancouver put their bid in for the Olympics I was against it. Right out of the starting gate I knew they would never keep within their budget (I was right), it was going to put a lot of people out of work (again right), businesses would suffer (yup) and that the money would be better spent on health care and education. Patients are already on long wait lists because hospital beds are closed, not enough nurses to go around, not enough is done to keep doctors in small towns, schools are closing and those that are open don't have enough computers for children, no after school extra curriculum, and the lists went on and on.
I watched the ceremonies that day all those years ago and I have to admit that I jumped out of my chair and cheered when the host declared Vancouver had won the bid! I was caught in the moment! Over the last few years it has been brought home many many times at how the cost of these Olympics are out of control, we have gone into debt to bring it to pass, businesses have gone bankrupt because of all the road closures due to road construction and so on.
But having said that, I have athletes in my family and I do know that those athletes work very very hard and for most of their lives at the sport they are playing and competing. They don't deserve to be penalized because they love to compete. These last couple of weeks I have been explaining about the Olympics to my almost 6 year old granddaughter, explaining the intricacies of the game and medals. She wanted to send a letter to one of the athletes one day so we cut out part of a Cheerios box, found how to mail it and she told me exactly what she wanted to say for me to write it. She also was very specific to who she wanted it to go to. So as she dictated her wishes I had to hide a smile. She wanted me to write the following "It doesn't matter if you win or lose as long as you played your best we will all still love you." I didn't have the heart to tell her that at that level of competition, disappointment at not placing let alone not winning a medal would be at the front of all their minds and hearts. But she is 6 and for now it was enough that she wanted to send her wishes to this athlete.
Today right after school we walked over to where the torch bearers were going to be running along the road. I explained to her before what the torch meant, went online and watched other torch ceremonies and she had it all down pat. As the athlete ran past our group we cheered as loud as we could waving our flags as hard as we could and at that moment, the debt never crossed my mind, the over spending, the feedback from the people that the government wouldn't listen to, none of it mattered for one small moment in the grand scheme of time. What mattered was watching my grandchildren cheering for this athlete as she ran past us. What mattered was them knowing that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, that you CAN be everything you want to be. As my little granddaughter and I walked back home out of the blue she started singing O Canada, she knew every word.. and half way through the first paragraph she asked me why I wasn't singing with her. I told her cause I had a frog in my throat. She laughed and said Nana you're funny.
So all the way home, we sang our national anthem over and over again and then I sang it in French to her. After the Olympics are over then I will go back to worrying about how the sheer cost of these games are going to cost the taxpayers, but for now, I will support the athletes.
But for now, true patriot love in all thy sons command.