Friday, February 26, 2010

When North Americans Dominate An Olympic Sport, Why Does The IOC Want To Cancel It?

While I'm still disappointed about the Team USA women losing to Canada in the gold medal game last night, what has bothered me even more are the comments attributed to IOC president Jacques Rogge concerning the future of women's hockey in the winter Olympic games.

He said this to the Vancouver Sun on the same day of the US-Canada women's final.

“There is a discrepancy there. “Everyone agrees with that. This is maybe the investment period in women’s ice hockey. I would personally give them more time to grow, but there must be a period of improvement. We cannot continue without improvement.’’

The IOC doesn't have enough women's sports in the Olympic program to begin with, and refused to add women's ski jumping to it for this Olympic cycle.

So why the chatter about canceling women's hockey?

I believe much of this carping about women's hockey has to do with the fact that it has been a US-Canadian party so far. How much of a hue and cry would there be to end it if a European nation such as Russia or Sweden were dominating it instead of the United States or Canada?

When the Russian women were dominating women's Olympic basketball by capturing the 1976, 1980, and 1992 golds, deafening silence.

Softball got yanked as a Olympic medal sport for the 2012 London Games probably because of American domination of it. Never mind the fact that Japan knocked off Team USA for the 2008 gold medal in Beijing.

An attempt to bring it and baseball back into the Olympic program for 2016 was defeated despite the fact both sports are played all over the planet.

As was pointed out by IIHF president Rene Fasel men's hockey in his Swiss homeland experienced a lopsided 22-0 butt kicking in the 1930's administered by the Canadians. Swiss hockey grew to the point in which they knocked off the Canadians in the 2006 Torino games, and extended them to a hard fought 3-2 shootout loss in Vancouver.

Same story with the USA men's dominance of Olympic basketball. We went from sending collegiate all star teams to blow out the world's best to having to send our NBA ballers to uphold national basketball pride.

Even the NBA ballers now are challenged to the point where they only came home with bronze in 2004 and were severely challenged by Spain in 2008 before subduing them for gold.

Team USA women's basketball since the 1996 Atlanta Games has won four consecutive gold medals and six overall (1984, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008). Instead of jibber-jabber about canceling the sport, the rest of the planet is rolling up their sleeves and raising their level of play to compete with us.

The result is that Team USA, even with WNBA players in the lineups are being stiffly challenged now by the Australians and the Russians. The Russians upset us in the 2006 FIBA worlds semis, and the Aussies have been our Olympics finals opponent in three consecutive Olympiads.

So if you non-North Americans want to end Canadian-US dominance of women's ice hockey, lower your level of complaining and raise your level of play.

We had to do that in the States and Canada to be competitive in sports Europeans dominate like Nordic combined, bobsled, speed skating and ice dancing.

Team USA has had to step up their hockey game just to be competitive with the Canadians. It's paid off with consecutive world hockey championships, two silvers and a bronze medal in Olympic competition, but no gold since 1998.

But as we American sports fans painfully know, all good Olympic sports dynasties come to an end, and this current Canadian run of Olympic hockey success will one day as well.

Step up your game, don't end it.

1 comment:

genevieve said...

The eastern bloc countries always cheated (can you say steroids?)too.
I agree Monica let the weaker countres improve their play, not by eliminating the sport.

I always had a strong dislike for the IOC anyway.