August 23, 2004
The country I live in has not been doing too well in
the Olympics this year. At the time of my writing
this, Canada is tied for 17th place in the medal
standings with only four medals: one gold, two silvers
and one bronze. The impression I have is that
Canadians in general are pretty disappointed with our
Someone commented to one of my older children that the
reason why Canada is doing so poorly is that our
athletes' highest priority in the Olympics is having
fun, while the top nations are there to work.
I don't know if that is true, but I do get the
impression that some of the other countries take the
Olympics far more seriously than many of us do. I saw
a short feature on one of the Eastern European women's
gymnastic teams. These young ladies are in intensive
training for most of the year, much of that time away
from home and family. Their extreme dedication is
clearly seen on their faces.
I don't really believe that our Canadian athletes are
more interested in the fun of the Olympics than they
are in the events themselves. Still, I think many of
us have an aversion to what appears to be a very
somber approach to athletics.
I could be wrong, but I get the impression that
countries that embrace lifestyles similar to Canada
tend to think that if we are not having fun, then it
is not worth the effort. As the saying goes, "All work
and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
Perhaps the real issue here has to do with how badly
one wants to achieve whatever it is he or she is
striving for. If Jack, in the saying quoted above, was
in a life or death situation, then it wouldn't matter
how much fun he was having. Then again, I imagine
there are people whose own slogan might be, "Have fun
Those who think that way, fail to see the seriousness
of their lives. We might look at the dedication of
some athletes and wonder why anyone would be so
dedicated to the winning of a sporting event. If that
is the case we most likely don't understand how much
it means to them and to those around them.
It is amazing what a human being can do when they want
something badly enough. Even the most common of human
desires can be forgotten when a person is intensely
focused on a particular goal. That's what I saw in the
faces of the gymnasts I mentioned.
Could you imagine what our lives would be like if we
were that committed to the things that are most
important to us? While it is not a bad thing to have
fun, I wonder if we are more committed to fun than we
are prepared to admit.