I’m a proud aunt right now. My niece is competing at the Canada Winter Games and today she won a silver medal. Here’s a link to an interview with her (and her teammate, Erin) after their win today: Team BC Newsletter. The Games take place every four years and have launched the careers of many professional athletes. Unlike the Olympics, though, they seem more inclusive, with less damaging impact on the communities in which they take place. Many of the sports that appear in the Games aren’t part of the international sports scene and are thus truly amateur sports, pursued for the love of it.
Amateur sports are a big part of many kids’ lives, either through school or (if their families are lucky enough to afford it) as an evening or weekend activity. When I was a teenager, my sport was curling. I didn’t have any pretensions that I would ever play at the elite levels, but practices and bonspiels were an important part of my high school years. Even though curling has an international following and it’s now an Olympic sport, it has never had the flashy appeal of sports like hockey or skating. It’s one of the things I liked about it. Though it was a team sport, and competitive, manners mattered as much as precision on the ice. I thought of it as a sport for the quiet, studious kids. A kind of playground for underdogs, if you will. A place where atypical athletes can experience the kind of community that’s usually reserved for the jocks.
I think the Canada Games accommodate more kinds of athletes than the Olympics, or many of the international competitions, and for that I’ve always loved them. If you’re interested, you can watch some of the Games live online.