What follows is a copy of a letter i wrote to the CBC regarding a documentary about Olympic sport. I had called in but as I stated below I wasn’t satisfied with my call.
I just called in to comment on the programme and I wasn’t satisfied with my response. I should mention off the top that I’m a huge fan of CBC and of the Current specifically. This is the first time I’ve ever called or written in and it’s due to incredibly poor reporting by Mr. Gerard. As someone who has lived the Olympic dream (I won a Bronze for Canada in Beijing) and continue to do so while pursuing an education and volunteering as a board member of a national organization for athletes, I was insulted by Mr. Gerard’s handling of the issues surrounding Olympic sport and his clear negative bias. I found it incredibly insulting to be stereotyped by Mr. Gerard and his expert the Prof. whose name I don’t recall.
I have great respect for the athletes on the programme and Ms. Forsyth and Mr. Heese seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. Is it wrong that Mr. Heese still likes to play volleyball? Is it a bad thing that Ms. Forsyth is a ball of energy who has a successful career that she loves? It seems that they are perfect examples of why sport is good for people. Mr. Heese engages in regular physical activity, something every Canadian needs to do, and Ms. Forsyth is a dynamic business professional who loves her job and is doing incredibly well for herself. I guess that isn’t what Mr. gerard and Prof. Blank, think is healthy. These two aren’t isolated cases, there are many Olympic athletes that have parlayed their sporting careers into successful post sport lives and many that I have spoken with claim to be successful because of the discipline and focus that sport provided them.
Mr. Gerard’s droning on about injuries in Olympic Sport has some truth to it, however, he completely fails to recognize the level of injury in professional sports. I would have enjoyed a comparison of concussions / injuries in Hockey vs. all Olympic sports. It is, of course, well known that kids are never single minded about pro sports and no child is on the ice for hours a day before their tenth birthday. I do agree that the issue of balance in life is a problem but sadly, Mr. Gerard entirely missed the point. Mr. Gerard should also know that there are many provincial programmes that help athletes transition from sport to life after sport and that part of the beauty of being a Canadian national team athlete is your tuition is payed for every year you are a member of the team and if you choose not to attend post secondary education during your time as an athlete it is deferred to your retirement. It should also have been noted that the correlation between excellence in school and excellence in sport is well researched and is the primary argument for more, rather then less Phys. Ed. in schools.
Mr. Gerards continual belittling of Olympic or National Team athletes as narrow minded and focused is truly bizarre. I suspect Mr. Gerard and his “expert” the professor, also spent a great deal of time and energy focusing on their educations and in at least one case, her Phd. Of course, focusing on sport is essentially focusing on something that eventually you won’t be able to do However, that certainly isn’t a reason not to do it. I think the argument could be made that experts in music and in academia are about as well-rounded as athletes. I would like to reiterate that this ridiculous piece of reporting was so far below the standards of The Current and the CBC in general. It was truly insulting to someone who is out everyday doing something he loves. Mr. Gerard has a forum whereby he can influence positive change and stimulate thought and discussion; instead he choose to cash in on a topic he clearly has very little knowledge about or respect for, the Olympics, and bash people for being passionate. Yes, there are always negative exceptions and extreme examples but please find me an example of a group of passionate people where that doesn’t occur.
Mr. Gerard could have focused his anti-Olympic sentiment on the IOC and some questionable politics and not the athletes.
Thank you for your time and consideration reading this response.
Thomas Hall Olympic Bronze Medalist and Normal Guy.