By Jodi A. Shaw
For the last week, Canadians have been shaking with excitement over Canada’s triumphs in the Olympics in Vancouver. And over the past few days, I’ve found it difficult to have a conversation with anyone that doesn’t involve talking about hockey. Today at the grocery store a complete stranger cornered me in the produce section to share excitement about Canada’s gold medal win in hockey. “We won!” Her grin made me pretty uncomfortable.
“Horrible news about Chile,” I said, “just awful.” Obviously, I’m not much of a hockey fan. She hadn’t heard a thing about Chile.
On Saturday morning, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake shook central Chile causing mass devastation. An incredible 90 aftershocks, all of magnitude five or higher, have continued the devastation with over 700 dead (and the number continues to rise) and an estimated 1.5 million people affected by the quake. Less than two months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, it’s like deja vu as I sit in my living room watching images on the news of people digging through the ruins of collapsed buildings in search of survivors. And yet I have to channel surf relentlessly to find a station with coverage of the disaster in Chile, as the Olympics hog the airwaves.
Maybe I don’t get it because I’ve never been a huge sports enthusiast: I don’t have a team or own a jersey, I’m not competitive by nature, and I can’t name name any players other than Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore (and that only because I read about them on CBC.ca).
I didn’t watch any Olympic events, not because I am boycotting, though I was tempted to, but because I’ve got things to do, and simply can’t devote hours of my day to curling or speed skating. My Olympic jones has largely been satisfied by reading Facebook status updates. It’s nice to see Canadians uniting and being proud of their country and its athletes, and I appreciate the history of the Olympics, but I don’t quite understand the level of emotional involvement and time commitment so many people are willing to put forth. And I certainly don’t get why Olympic coverage trumps world coverage.
“The competition is exhilarating,” a co-worker told me.
Maybe so, but there’s nothing exhilarating about a country devastated by an earthquake competing for news coverage, and losing to the Olympics.