Please, people. Do not fall for the guilt-trip. It’s OK to stay negative on the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. In fact, it’s your patriotic duty.
The Pan Am Games only self-identifies as an important sporting event. At best, it is a third-tier competition that excludes 86% of the world’s population by geography, and 99% of the world’s elite athletes by the competition’s sheer irrelevance.
Nonetheless, Rogers Control Trust officer and current Mayor of Toronto John Tory is all over the media desperately trying to promote last-minute ticket sales to events including the opening and closing ceremonies at the Rogers Centre. He even had the arrogance to insult the Torontonians that just elected him last year, calling us champions at “moaning and groaning” for not getting into the non-Olympic spirit. Shaming us into supporting the games through guilt? Please man, we’re adults here.
What exactly are we supposed to get excited about? Basketball, where the world’s top hoops nation, USA, is sending a bunch of scrubs like Ryan Hollins, a journeyman center who has started a grand total of 64 games for seven different teams in nine NBA seasons?
Basketball Canada is holding back all of our stars. Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph, and the rest of this outstanding generation of Canadian hoop stars, will, however, be competing together in Guadalajara, Mexico in August, in the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament.
How about the baseball competition, held in suburban Ajax, Ontario? A bunch of washed-up career minor-leaguers and fringe prospects will be bunting for gold. Major League Baseball has forbidden any player on a Major League 40-man roster from competing at the Pan Am Games.
The pickings are slim across the board. In their list of “Top 10 International Athletes to Watch at the Pan Am Games,” the best CP could come up with was a 32-year-old American swimmer clinging to unlikely hopes of a 2016 Olympic berth; an American Decathlete who will not be competing in Decathlon and may not compete at all; a Mexican racquetball player; a Colombian BMX bike rider; and a Brazilian competitor in Modern Pentathlon, a sport that will likely be cut from the Olympics in the next sporting review.
But what about the “Pan Am Legacy”; that will certainly be worth the $2.5 billion-and-counting, no? Winnipeg laughs, as do we. What will be left behind? International attention? Nope, this is for North and South America only. A new stadium for Toronto? No, the Rogers Centre was already built with other taxpayer money back in the 1980s. (Hamilton did get its new CFL Tiger-Cats stadium subsidized, though).
How about that athletes’ village? Well, if you’re willing to fork out for one of its million-dollar condos, or apply for one of its’ low-income housing units, you may be one of a few hundred to benefit. The Scarborough swimming facility looks nice, but for $2.5 billion? Please.
The most likely tangible legacy? I predict the Provincial and Municipal governments will announce that the traffic-destroying HOV/VIP lanes installed for the Pan Am Games, which have made the normally pleasant summer commutes a living nightmare already for motorists on our highways, will become permanent. That, and the possible anarchist riots outside the concurrent Pan Am economic and environmental summits. Protestor-kettling, now there’s a sport!
Now you may say to yourself, “hell, the money’s already been spent and the games are here, why not buy a few tickets and enjoy them”. YOU MUST RESIST THIS TEMPTATION! The big-government Liberal jackals are already using this event as their pretext to shoot for the Gold Medal of graft, corruption, and cronyism - the ultimate bender for political spendaholics, the Olympic Games.
Canadian Olympic Committee chairman Marcel Aubut is already on record as establishing the 2015 Pan Am Games as a springboard to a 2024 Olympic bid. Mayor Tory would not rule out his support for it. And City Council Liberal James Pasternak, one of Tory’s closest allies, floated the ridiculous idea of a shared Olympic bid with Boston – “all the costs, and half the glory.” Ugh.
So stay away from these Guilt Trip Games. Do not take them seriously. You’ll only encourage the spendaholics. Do not give them a propaganda victory in their desperate attempts to impress the IOC. Do not let the media pretend there’s a “legacy” without taking into account the obscene costs and the wholesale lack of interest.
Feel free to be proud if a Canadian wins gold with a world-record performance. Otherwise, do you want to be proud of Canada’s athletes? Next Tuesday night, don’t bother joining the dozens of other viewers tuning in to your taxpayer-funded “Pan Am Primetime” on CBC. Flip over to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, where bilingual Toronto-born, Montreal-raised Russell Martin will be representing the Blue Jays in front of a truly worldwide audience.
Or, put it all aside, get out and enjoy our precious summer sunshine, and await the next truly historic Canadian sporting moment - Conor McDavid is set to make his NHL debut exactly three months from today.
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