Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blog #3: Olympics versus Paralympics

It was a priviledge, I think, to be able to host both the Olympics and the Paralympics in our city. Aside, from the obvious festivities, the chance to see world-class athleticism, and the chance to broadcast our city to the world, having the opportunity to host the two mega-events gave us Vancouverites the chance to reflect on the entirety of the sport-entertainment culture. A quick comparison of the opening ceremonies of the two Games will do the trick. I remember watching the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, and as I watched I gradually came to accept it as it was.

The ceremonies were an optimistic and artistic rendition of our country. They were a welcoming to world on one hand, but most definitely a placing of Canada on centre-stage on the other. While the athletes were introduced and cheered for, the ultimate protagonist was our country itself, with all its values, visions, hopes, and dreams.The Paralympic opening, however, was far from similar. It often referred to the Paralympics as a celebration of the human spirit. The ceremonies time and time again promoted the idea of "nothing being impossible" and of athleticism as a means of inspiring younger generations. The performances were dominated by child and youth talent, and the climactic event of the torch lighting was done with a 14-year old under the spotlight.

As much as I enjoyed the Olympic ceremonies, they just didn't quite have the impact that the Paralympic opening did. VANOC focused so intently on making sure Canada performed for itself on the world stage, but in the process maybe forgot about the importance of sport as a means of promoting the values that everyone idealizes. The Paralympic opening did that well. While watching, I was inspired not by the technology of a television stage or the extreme technical choreography of Canadian dancers, but simply by the story of individual people, which ultimately is what sport should be about.

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