Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sports and Canada's lack of culture

“You can’t worry about hurt feelings when you’re trying to be the best in the world.” Another great quote from Canadian colonialist Dick Pound, a man that wanted Canada to spend 50 million more per year on Olympic funding in lieu of the government awarding a paltry 19.1 million extra to subsidize the ever growing Olympic bureaucratic. Let me remind you that Canada sent more administrators than athletes to the Greek games, and in fact more than any other country in the world.

The media viewed the 19.1 million-dollar increase as disappointing and some even linked the deficiency of government funding to Canada’s lack of culture. The argument was simple to follow: Olympic participation is unifying and nationalist, so if we want Canadians to develop a sense of unity or togetherness, we should subsidize athletes, as they inherently lead us to feeling “Canadian”, through their sporting deeds, exemplary work ethic, and recognized international accomplishments.

An argument like this is often hashed in coffee shops, university bars, and political forums, and much to the working man’s dismay he’s often not present at these gatherings, because he’d be the only one to note that Canada does have a sporting culture and that’s hockey.
Hockey’s played by roughly 12 million Canadians. It’s played everywhere, on small prairie outdoor rinks, in the arctic, on reservations, suburbs, in big Canadian cities, out east as well as in the west. It’s played late at night by men who have to be at work by seven the following morning. When we aren’t playing it we pay to watch it in giant sporting arenas and even more indicting is the fact that a good percentage of us choose our newspapers based on their ability to dissect the left wing lock. Every time the bottle drive or skate-a-thon pledge comes by we eagerly give, which is nothing compared to our mothers who are driving constantly to meet hockey’s time consuming schedule, and when they aren’t driving, or cheering from the stands they work smoky bingos to pay for tournaments. Meanwhile all teams are sponsored by local businesses that are only to proud and happy to pay for jersey’s in exchange for the ability to display the team’s picture. And it’s our dads, uncles and friends that donate the time for coaching and teaching. We voluntarily work hard and coordinate ourselves effectively to raise the money and time required so our kids can play hockey. This kind of comprehensive social activity promotes similarities and consequently culture.

Hockey is an expensive sport due to the price of building, operating and maintaining indoor arenas, and growing children constantly require expensive skates and equipment, and added to this are travel and time costs. Combining these factors hockey is estimated to cost per child roughly $1000 a year to play. And who is it that starts playing hockey each year? It’s young children and naturally it’s their young parents paying. The same young parents that are struggling to support new families, buying their first house, purchase their first new car, and paying off student loans. It is a fact that the tax burden does fall on the middle class in Canada, an income of $40,000 puts you into a 40% tax bracket, while a $200,000 income puts you at 46%. Parents want their children to play hockey, but if the if the professional bureaucrats, media, lobbyists and left wing intelligence had it their way, these are the people who would pay for the 50 million dollar increase to support Olympic sports. These are the people “who’s feeling would be hurt” by Pound’s elitist paternalism.

Consider the fate of a young tradesmen, educated and hardworking with a wife and two children that makes $2500 every two weeks, with the government taking a $1000 to support the never-ending list of subsidized programs. By increasing this man’s taxes to pay for an increase in Olympic funding, you decrease the likelihood that he will be able to afford hockey for his children. An increase in taxed support to subsidize Olympic sports comes at the expense of children playing hockey and somehow this is supposed to increase unity in the community.
Furthermore, let’s consider why certain sports need funding. Generally it’s because there’s no interest in them combined with the unusual necessity of an expensive staging areas required for participation. Thus there’s too few participants to cover the cost needed to sustain the sport. Generally and deservedly these sports would in the past simply die out, except that these sports are generally the pursuits of the upper middle class and wealthy liberal elite. Sports like tressage, equestrian, polo, synchronized swimming, field hockey, ski jumping, fencing, and diving come to mind. If a sport combines the unusual talent of being both unpopular and expensive it will need government interference to survive. So now we can see that a 50 million-dollar increase in taxes to support elitist sports like tressage and bobsledding comes at the expense of less affluent children playing popular but expensive sports like hockey. And this restriction in freedom and obvious class favoritism is supposed to create cultural unity?

And what are the results of this paternal paradigm so far? We have ungrateful athletes claiming the reason they don’t win medals is due to lack of taxpayer funding and poor infrastructure. We have young parents working extra hard that still can’t afford to put their kids into a sport like hockey because of excessive taxation. And we as Canadians think the way to solve this problem is with further regulation? Somehow presuming that increased legislated support for the ungrateful unranked ski jumper is going to supply the average family ample chances for gratitude about the privilege of being Canadian. The same family, which is forced to work an even longer workweek to support the mandated increase, while their own kids are unable to play hockey due to cost restrictions. Culture is arrived only through voluntary participation in activities and anytime support in certain activities becomes mandated, it comes at the expense of other activities, and thus divides those that it was intended to unite.


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