Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2008: The Summer of Cockburn

By 8:00 o'clock the sun has all but set, TV commericals feature backpacks and pencil cases, and the Jays are, for all intents and purposes, eliminated from playoff contention. Yes, once again summer has begun its exit. It seems like this is becoming an annual event. You could almost set your calendar by it.

I, for one, am relieved to say goodbye to the summer of 2008. Here are the highlights so far, in no particular order. Tim Russert, Bernie Mac and Estelle Getty all die suddenly. Part of the city explodes due to a misplaced and poorly maintained propane facility. Ironically this happens on the only night all summer that it isn't pouring rain. Some poor Carny gets his head cut off on a bus ride. The price of gas goes through the roof. Manufacturing jobs are lost en masse. People start to drop dead because of tainted lunch meat. Russia goes retro and starts invading countries again. Sweet, how about another Cold War? Just in time for the Red Dawn remake.

Then we have the Olympics which were supposed to lift our spirits as we witnessed the world celebrating how wonderful everyone is. It was China's turn to host the spectacle and show the globe how far their nation has come. In many ways they've not only caught up to the world, but they've surpassed them. Well done China. Not even the Americans would ask a 7-year old girl to lip sync a song because the actual singer wasn't "cute" enough. Welcome to the developed world, jerks. You'd think they would be a bit more senstive to the little girl's feelings after having already cut her from the gymnastics team for being too old.

Canada's efforts at the Olympics were fairly mediocre. Sure we ended up with a decent medal haul but that was padded by our top-3 finishes in a bunch of contrived sports. Starting about 3 or 4 Olympics ago events started showing up that seemed like nothing more than watered-down derivatives of existing sports. Since when did the Olympics become about mass inclusion? Now there seems to be a sport for everyone even if you weren't good enough to make it in a traditional event. Suck at diving? Try sychronized diving. All you have to do is find someone who can suck exactly as much as you do, at the exact same time. Our flagbearer, one Karen Cockburn, distinguished herself on the trampoline. You know who else did that? A bunch of drunk high-school kids who snuck into their neighbors' backyard. By 2016 the Olympics will look a bit like a company picnic. I'm sure we'll put up a few personal bests with the potato sac and could medal in the three-legged race.

No offense to Ms. Cockburn but she didn't even win a gold medal. While her second-place finish may have been a big deal to the 25-30 people that make up the Canadian Trampolining community it's quite sad that we awarded her the honour of carrying the flag, essentially acknowledging her bouncing around as the most remarkable feat by a Canadian at the games. While equestrian doesn't look like a sport in the traditional sense at least there's some history there. Why not give it to fellow silver medallist Ian Miller, who's shared the Olympic stage with both Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps, or the druggy who won the two horsey medals? At least those two are better stories. Hell, give it to the woman who finished third in hurdles. Now that's a legitimate sport. There should be a threshold of achievement that must be met in order to carry the flag. If no one meets that benchmark then the honour should be given to either Wayne Gretzky, Jack Bauer or whomever is the best looking amongst the contingent. At least that way we're truly putting forth the best our country has to offer.

So that was the summer. Goodbye and good riddance. Let's get things turned around in a hurry, 2008. So far this has been a bit of a shitshow.

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