Shortly before I wrote this, the 2016 Olympic Sum-mer Games came shuddering to a halt. I say shuddering – a particularly dramatic verb in my mind – because I think it’s the best way to describe how the magnitude of sporting curiosity created by the Olympics so quickly expires.
For just over two weeks, more than 10,000 athletes from 205 countries converged to test their physical limitations and people from around the world stood enraptured. The Canadian broadcasting analyst Numeris reported that over four million people watched the opening ceremonies. Athletes that most Canadians had never before known became household names – Penny Oleksiak, Erica Wiebe, Derek Drouin. The Andre De Grasse-Usain Bolt bromance fed water-cooler conversations in offices and warehouses across the country. For 16 days, average people were suddenly knowledgeable about sports like handball, water polo and freestyle wrestling.
Then, with the shocking brevity of a starter’s pistol, the interest disappeared. A day after the Olympic torch danced its last fiery Brazilian samba, local water cooler gossip turned back to the US election and the weekend’s dazzling and emotional Tragically Hip broadcast. Like the bemused, early July fuss over Pokemon Go, Olympic discourse was abruptly passé to all but those directly involved in the activities.
I don’t mean to criticize the short attention span of our collective consciousness, though. On the contrary, I intend to motivate you to embrace it. Because, you see, this editorial isn’t really about the Olympic Games. It is, in actuality, the sports editor’s annual, obligatory appeal to get you, NAIT’s typically sports-indifferent masses, out to see our talented athletics teams in competition.
I get it, you’re busy people. You have classes to attend, homework to do, alcohol to drink but I’m not asking for full time faithfulness here. You don’t need to hang a pennant on your wall or emblazon an enraged baby owl across your chest. Much like the Olympics, supporting the Ooks is low commitment. It’s easy! The rink, courts and pitch are all just a short (OK, “reasonable” if you’re in the L-Building) walk away. Entry for students is free and the beer is cheap. You know that at some point this year you’ll be on campus after hours, lingering about the HP Centre looking for something to take your mind off less important things like test and exam prep. So why not see a game or two? You don’t have to see them all.
They really are exciting, too – last year NAIT’s teams did spectacularly well. The men’s basketball team took home the CCAA (national) title. The men’s hockey team went undefeated for the entire season, accomplishing a feat that hasn’t been seen since 1985. The women’s soccer team took silver at nationals, the women’s basketball team won bronze at nationals, the women’s hockey team won ACAC (provincial) silver and the men’s soccer team won provincial bronze. That’s quite the list! If you need more motivation, I’m sure I could find and list off a number of studies proving how involving yourself in the college community spirit leads to more happiness, better grades, a better love life, etc.
I won’t complicate the experience though. You shameless, bandwagon-riding Olympic-style sports fans don’t need any complication. You need a game that’s easy to attend, easy to support and easy to miss when more important priorities come calling.
The Ooks can offer that.
-Connor O’Donovan, Sports Editor
Image via NAIT Athletics