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What is the Olympics really about?

The Olympics aren't even over and already the money is drying up. This week, Sports Minister Gary Lunn suggested it's time to offload the nation's elite-athlete training costs on Canada's corporations.

The Olympics aren’t even over and already the money is drying up.

This week, Sports Minister Gary Lunn suggested it’s time to offload the nation’s elite-athlete training costs on Canada’s corporations.

“You shouldn’t just always reach to government and say, ‘Oh, it’s your problem,’” he said. “The prime minister has made it very clear; there is no new money in the budget. Full stop. We have got to get our deficit back down to zero.”

This makes sense for a couple of reasons.

First, Ottawa is cutting funding to athletes after there are no more photo ops to parlay to political advantage.

Second, it’s the frivolous stuff you’ve got

to jettison when you face economic problems. No more Blue Menu chicken, Froot Loops and skeleton. It’s time for plain oatmeal, deviled ham and street hockey.

So, Ottawa’s switching to Sub-let the Podium from Own the Podium.

And this probably isn’t a bad thing.

The whole Own the Podium program has done a lot to raise national expectations, but hasn’t fulfilled them.

The focus on winning has kinda been a bummer, especially when we lost. Which has been often.

We expect gold, and feel disappointment when we get silver or bronze. And robbed when we place fourth. Much of that stems from the Own the Podium nonsense, which has unnecessarily built our sense of entitlement.

Fact is, since Calgary in 1988, Canada has been steadily improving its medal standing at Olympic events.

But does that matter?

Is the Olympics about medals? Or is it about personal triumph in the face of adversity?

For example, when this event is over, are people more likely to remember the medal count, or Joannie Rochette’s courageous skate in the shadow of her mother’s unexpected death.

And will her professionalism and grace in the public spotlight be lessened if she fails to win a hunk of metal?

Frankly, the Canadian chest-thumping approach to Vancouver has been a bit gauche.

It’s not like our athletes aren’t trying. We’re competing against the best in the world in events timed to a hundredth of a second. In that environment, it’s a coin toss. A nick in the ice or a patch of soft snow and it’s curtains. Stuff happens.

In the end, Canadians would be far better off if they focused more on lionhearted competitors like Rochette.

She reminds us it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the Games. (Richard Mostyn)