Archive for February, 2010

Olympic Green

February 27, 2010

I was perusing the Internet today, searching for the answer to a burning question… what ever happened to amateur athletes in the Olympic games?  www.olympics30.com  I bring this up today because tomorrow will be the showdown between the Canadian and the U.S.A. hockey teams for Olympic gold.newsid=449331.html?__source=msnhomepage&cid=  I don’t mean to pick on hockey as a game because up here in the North it is an obsession.  Hockey IS Canada.  I jokingly said to a person at work while the Canadian and U.S. women hockey teams were playing for gold that if I didn’t want to sleep on the couch I had better cheer for the Canadians.newsid=447401.html?chrcontext=teamusa#canada+women+shut+u+s+hockey+gold  But under closer scrutiny, here’s the rub. 

The women’s teams are all amateurs while the men’s teams are all professionals.  I scoured the rosters of both the Canadian and American men’s teams and could not find one amateur.  Oh, I know… the women played in college and university teams (possibly on scholarship) but the men are paid to do a job whether they win or lose… and their job is hockey.  It is more an all-star game than an Olympics and I had to find out why this happened.  Not just in hockey, but in other categories such as basketball. 

But first, a little Olympic history.

  Jim Thorpe, All-American.  Here is a young man plucked out of obscurity and made an Olympic hero by none other than “Pop” Warner himself.  Jim Thorpe was possibly the greatest Olympian in modern history and was an amateur.

 Jesse Owens was an Olympian who not only won  gold but also defeated Hitler’s Aryan race philosophy on Germany’s own turf.  Jesse Owens was an amateur.

 Alice Coachman was the first black woman to win Olympic gold.  Setting a world record in the high jump, Alice Coachman was an amateur.

 Fanny Blankers Koen, “The Flying Housewife” is considered to be the best woman athlete ever.  Recognized as the greatest female athlete of the 20th century,  Fanny Koen was an amateur.

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I guess it comes down to the money,  aka:  Olympic green.newsid=452090.html?__source=msnhomepage&cid=  If the Olympics was going to survive it had to enable professional athletes to compete otherwise viewership would continue to decline.  Every other society in existence knew that the best teams were the professional ones so why not allow the professionals to compete, each representing his native country?  But in doing this, they form a core of elite participants.  Gone are the days when a Nebraska farm boy who can hurl a bale of hay one-handed further than anyone in the county gets a chance to pitch the discus or shot putt…  and that’s too bad. 

I wonder, what’s wrong with an amateur reaching the pinnacle of his chosen sport and then turning professional?  Again, it is about the money.  Olympic committees wrestled with the fairness of sponsorship, endorsements and compensation for decades.  Competing countries found creative ways to train their athletes under the guise of military enrollment, thus enabling the State to pick up the tab.

It is interesting to note that as television became more popular so did professional sports.  We expect professional athletes to perform well because they are getting paid to do so.  But then when they do poorly, we feel robbed.  Famous sports figures are overpaid, they are prima donnas and not worth the price of admission.  Olympians, on the other hand being amateurs, have the advantages of heart;  i.e. the love of the game and pride of nationality without monetary gain.  If they fail it is understandable because (though they excel in their chosen field) at the end of the day they are like the rest of us mere mortals.

I have enjoyed what I have seen of the Olympics and look forward to the men’s final in hockey.  But wouldn’t it be interesting to see Sidney Crosby in the figure skating competition or Ryan Miller as a speed skater?  To be slightly out of their element might make the sport a little less calculated and a little more… amateurish FUN.  It would put the professionals down to our level and make for a more interesting participant enjoying sport as a sport, not as just another job.

Oh, by the way… I will not be sleeping on the couch Sunday night.

peace.

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Have a little cake with your Tea Party?*

February 20, 2010

The citizens of the United States are pissed.

I mean really freakin’ pissed. 

I think it takes an angry society to bring about change in government and right now I do not doubt that most people feel that the federal government needs to change.  Not like the empty Barack Obama “change” slogan because change for the sake of change doesn’t really change anything.  It is a continuous loop playing the same tune over and over again.  Nope, Americans need more than just empty rhetoric.  They want and will demand more than just promises.  The American people are going to insist on results and accountability.    There is a rumbling across the nation that discontented voters have had enough. 

But what does it take to produce results?  And more importantly, how will they go about it?

There is a movement out there called the Tea Party. 21410   This movement harkens back to the Boston Tea Party of colonial days.ny-times-goes-idaho-explore-paranoid-tea-party-movement#ixzz0fncij2zz You remember history, right?  Taxation without representation?   Well, if history does repeat itself there is going to be a lot of product pitched into Boston Harbor, figuratively speaking.  All it takes is for people to get organized and they are doing it.  This is Democracy at work. 0,2933,586407,00.html

And because there is such a swell of interest, a growing concern and an increase of distrust in both  political parties two things are happening.  First; discredit the followers of the Tea Party as malcontents and rabble rousers.  This has come from the ranks of the Democratic party.  Second; claim allegiance as closet Tea Partiers in order to gain votes against the prevailing party, this from the Republicans. 35486037  As this growing mass of dis-satisfied Americans gains ground and becomes more visible it is a force that has to be reckoned with.  Now organizations that are not a part of the mainstream are banding together under this one banner, the Tea Party, and that has some people worried.  I imagine the powers that be were concerned over that little band of colonies back in 1776, too.  Some viewed them with disdain, some with alarm while others carried on with business as usual.

It is interesting to note that while I paid a visit to Ottawa last year I had the pleasure of visiting the Canadian Museum of Civilization. civilization.html  Amongst other fine exhibits there was a series of displays depicting the American Revolution, only it wasn’t referred to as the American Revolution.  It was called simply, the rebellion.  The folks that sided with King George were dignified with the term Loyalists.  They were forced off their land and fled to Canada because of relying on the status quo of tyranny.  The American patriots were called rebels.  They saw English rule as a yoke they could no longer bear but were deemed enemies of the crown.  So, one man’s rebellion is another man’s call to freedom.

 

Politicians seem out of touch today.  Monies are being spent, bail-outs being given and millions of dollars worth of bonuses ?GT1=43001 are still doled out idUSTRE6122ZH20100203 while unemployment has reached epidemic proportions.  You see, Americans are an educated lot.  They know that a $185 billion dollar AIG bail-out amounts to 18.5 million unemployed workers receiving $10,000 each.  That would be a nice little nest egg to help tide things over while the economy “recovers.” business-the_new_york_times Many view the health care reform package as a huge welfare system that would be a financial burden to the working class.  There are those that feel the global warming and green energy proposals are a sham to enrich the political elite.  Others feel the government seeks to control the Internet and thus,  information that condemns and exposes it.

There is a story that follows historical views that Marie Antoinette  Let_them_eat_cake and the French hierarchy were so out of touch with their citizens that when she was informed that “there was no bread for the people” she replied, Let them eat brioche!  Of course, now it stands to reason that if peasants couldn’t afford bread the dainty dish referred to was well out of their reach, but the point is:  Who was looking out for them then and more importantly… Who is looking out for us?

America needs a strong third-party.  When elections come down to selecting one over the other because he/she is the lessor of two evils, things are pretty darn gloomy.  Politicians will tell you that a vote for the likes of a Ross Perot is a vote for the guy you don’t want BUT…  a party has to form sometime.  Tea Partiers need to start with local offices and expand from there.  When this happens, organization and recognition will follow.

Every generation needs a new revolution.   So said Thomas Jefferson,  one of America’s founding fathers and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.  What he was advocating was not an over throw of government, but a forging ahead with new ideas and principles to guide us and keep us free.  If Americans are dis-satisfied with their government it is within their fundamental right to change it. 

We should not fear the status quo when it is in every American’s DNA to continually challenge it. 

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peace.

*Author’s note:  All images were acquired from the galloping sea of free and open Internet sites… long may it wave!

A Walk With Ernest

February 13, 2010

Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City*
A Walk With Ernest

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Saturday, May 2nd, my beautiful girl and I went walking downtown.  It was in support of Promenade de Jane, Jane’s Walk.  When we heard of the exercise, we heartily agreed that it would not only be interesting and educational, but a good excuse to take in some fresh, Spring air.

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From the website, janeswalk.com: “Jane’s Walk honours the legacy and ideas of urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs who championed the interests of local residents and pedestrians over a car-centered approach to planning. Jane’s Walk helps knit people together into a strong and resourceful community, instilling belonging and encouraging civic leadership.”

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We enthusiastically showed up early and met our guide, Oryst Sawchuk, who occupies the Chair of the City of Greater Sudbury Municipal Heritage Committee.  There was one particular piece of history I was interested in, the Nickel Range Hotel.  Mr. Sawchuk pointed out the hotel’s one time location, just across the street from where we were meeting at the Market Square.  It is a parking lot now.

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Ernest Hemingway, the American author, had visited Sudbury back in 1923 as a reporter for the Toronto Star, covering a newly discovered coal mine. While doing his research, Hemingway had stayed at the Nickel Range Hotel.  Oryst Sawchuk pointed out that at the time, the Nickel Range’s six stories were considered to be skyscraper height and the Nickel Range Hotel included the area’s first elevator.  The second floor of the hotel had an elegant ballroom and it was at this very site that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stayed during their visit in 1939.

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I strained my brain trying to imagine what it must have been like for Hemingway, who described the “red bricked buildings of Sudbury” after his visit. He had to have noticed the Sterling Standard Bank positioned next door to the hotel and might have even done business there.  The Grand Theatre was just down the street, perhaps he strolled by one evening, killing time as writers often do.  No doubt he passed the Balmoral Hotel on his way to the post office at the corner of Elm and Durham Street.  Maybe just before entering the huge structure, he noticed the Ste-Anne-des-Pins rectory.  I imagined Hemingway as impressed with the post office’s clock tower and architectural magnificence as I was Saturday looking at its picture on a dedication plaque, the site of yet another parking lot.  I found myself wondering why we allow those pieces of history to vanish while suffering the future’s progressive  regression.  Are we really better off without them?

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Ernest Hemingway went back  to Toronto without a story, the coal mine turning out to be a scam.  Eventually, Ernest and Hadley Hemingway took their newborn son, John, and returned to Paris, France.  There, young Ernest became a published writer of short stories and poetry, struggling to find himself as the innovating author he eventually became.

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I think Hemingway would be surprised at downtown Sudbury today.  Some of the red brick buildings are still standing, but their collective soul has departed.

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Sadly for them, the bell tolled long ago…

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*Author’s note:  This is the last article written for Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City, my unceremoniously rejected series suggested to the local newspaper from 2009.  For more information on Jane’s Walk visit www.janeswalk.net

peace.