CBC Sports

Amateur sportsOur season's end and beyond the cut

Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2012 | 01:52 PM

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Sports Weekend capped a stellar season with Patrick Chan repeating as world figure skating champion in Nice, France. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images) Sports Weekend capped a stellar season with Patrick Chan repeating as world figure skating champion in Nice, France. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

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Sports Weekend, CBC's weekly television program focusing on the exploits of Canada's high-performance/amateur athletes, has come to the end of its season and now faces the cut.

Inevitably, in any competitive sport, there is the prospect of surviving the cut. In order to play, you have to get beyond the tryout stage. 

It's a black and white business.

Sports Weekend, CBC's weekly television program focusing on the exploits of Canada's high-performance/amateur athletes, has come to the end of its season and now faces the cut.

It will mean some members of our team won't be with us next season and we'll also play fewer games. This is a tough reality to deal with because, during the course of this past campaign, we've made headway as a group and enjoyed many successes.

We've told a lot of good stories about Canadian athletes and what they've been able to achieve in our own backyard as well as on the international stage.  Over the course of the season, millions of viewers have discovered people with potential that they can relate to.  Sports Weekend has also delivered a window on the world and a glimpse at the awesome spectacle of a variety of sports.

But there will be 35 less occasions for Sports Weekend next year and 150 less hours of this kind of programming. For Canada's high-performance sports community, that's going to be difficult to swallow because, outside of this platform, there are precious few opportunities to showcase the country's most talented athletes and what they're capable of.

Still, we remain committed to that goal at Sports Weekend.  We believe that Canada's men and women of sport are a hugely important part of the national folklore and a sign that there is potential in the country's youth. In their stories, successes and failures, we find examples of how we'd like to be. 

In short, the vast majority of the athletes we cover are good role models. They're worthy subject matter.

Over the past eight months, Sports Weekend has taken us from the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, to the world figure skating championships in Nice, France, and everywhere in between.

We've found superstars in cross-country skiing who hail from Sudbury, Ont., and St. Ferriol des Neiges, Que.

Short track speed skaters were greeted as local heroes as they raced wildly in Chicoutimi, Que., to the delight of a sold-out Georges Vezina Arena.

Two Canadian distance runners made desperate dashes to Olympic inclusion through the streets of Toronto in the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon.

Even the legend of Kitzbuhel and a 30-year-old rookie at the Hannenkahm named Jan Hudec were featured on our show.   

Sports Weekend covered all of that and a lot more. We'll do it again next season and in the coming weeks.

While we have to be more focused and deal with fewer talented teammates, we vow to stay in the game. Over the course of the summer, we'll be at the Olympic diving trials in Montreal and the national track and field championships in Calgary. The triathlon in Edmonton and the efforts of Canada's hopeful multi-sport athletes will not escape us. We'll be at Spruce Meadows to see the best show jumpers in the world, including Olympic gold medallist Eric Lamaze.

This is not to mention our coverage of signature Canadian events, which punctuate our summer: The Queen's Plate, Rogers Cup Tennis, Calgary Stampede and Sports Day in Canada will continue to flourish as part of the CBC Sports Weekend family.

Recently, at the Olympic water polo qualification tournament in Edmonton, the Canadian men heartbreakingly failed to survive the cut for the 2012 London Games. Their goal was to make the semifinals and be no worse than fourth, but they finished fifth after losing narrowly to Greece in the quarter-finals.

Reaction to the defeat from Canadian goalkeeper and team captain Robin Randall of Drinkwater, Sask. (estimated population of 65) was telling.

"I'm feeling conflicting emotions," Randall said. "I'm, obviously, super disappointed that we didn't accomplish the goal that we set out to do."

"But I couldn't have been with a better group of individuals. They're a fantastic, incredible, inspiring group every day.

"And so, another four years my friends."

Apparently, in spite of failing to make the Olympic cut, there is no quit in Robin Randall. He'll be back next season to fight the good fight.

I feel the same way about my colleagues at Sports Weekend. They are an incredibly, inspiring group who subscribe to a certain way of reflecting what sport can mean to the Canadian landscape. In the athletes we cover, we find commitment, sacrifice, joy, despair and an abundance of talent that we can marvel at.  These are ordinary people capable of extraordinary things and they're worthy of our attention.

Our season has come to an end at Sports Weekend. But we will survive the cut. And we'll do what this Canadian television program has done for more than 30 years.

We'll never meet a champion for the first time in the winner's circle. Instead, we promise to reflect their journey every step of the way.

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