What a blast. I have to admit, after years of being a cranky pants when it came to anything to do with the Olympics, once the party got going for real, I had a fabulous time. It was way, way better than I expected and I feel way more buoyant today than I did when Wayne Gretzky lit the torch 17 days ago.
I feel very privileged to have had the Olympic experience I did. I got to go to Vancouver where one friend took me to a party at Sochi House (the Russian headquarters at Science World) and another treated me to the ladies figure skating short program at the Pacific Coliseum. I got tipsy on Russia’s dime at the first event and shared in a group cry after Joanie Rochette’s courageous skate at the other. It was awesome.
And what an ending! Crosby from Iginla, in overtime, to beat the Americans and capture the one medal Canada considers its birthright while simultaneously setting a new record for most golds won by any nation in the history of the Winter Olympics. It doesn’t get any more fairy tale than that and completes the reinvention of Canada as a nation which no longer finds it uncomfortable and unbecoming to thump its chest.
Canadians from coast to coast to coast are enveloped in a euphoric cloud. I bet it takes weeks for this buzz to wear off.
But is it worth it? That’s the $6 billion question (the current estimate of the cost of staging the games.) It’s a lot of money to pay to feel good, even if it is best rush ever.
Unfortunately, we won’t know the answer to this question for quire some time. For one thing, it will take years to measure how the games affected our governments’ ability to pay for things like education and health care.
For another, these Olympics, we’ve been assured, are an investment in our future. Their biggest benefit is the spotlight they put on us, which in the long run is supposed to attract increased tourism and investment.
For the last two-plus weeks we’ve been paying to put on the mother of all schmooze fests. Our elected officials, along with our captains of industry, used the publicly-funded games to treat wealthy elites from around the world to a good time, in a bid to sell them on the idea that there is a lot of money to be made by doing business in our country and our province.
Because if these folks decide to bring their money and their expertise to here, goes the reasoning, the rest of us will benefit from the resulting jobs and economic activity.
So instead of spending the money directly on the things we needed, like health care, education, addressing child poverty, etc., we used it to put on the Olympics, in the hopes we’ll end up with even more money down the road.
It’s a big gamble, with very high stakes. But in the meantime, while we wait to see if it pays off, we get to enjoy being on top of the sporting world.
And man, the air smells good up here, doesn’t it?