CBC Sports

Amateur sportsField of Play: More cash for Canada's Olympians

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 | 08:47 AM

Back to accessibility links
Reigning Pan Am Games champion Rosie MacLennan of King City, Ont., performs for the judges en route to winning the gold medal in women's individual trampoline final at the London Olympics on Aug. 3. (Julie Jacobson/Canadian Press) Reigning Pan Am Games champion Rosie MacLennan of King City, Ont., performs for the judges en route to winning the gold medal in women's individual trampoline final at the London Olympics on Aug. 3. (Julie Jacobson/Canadian Press)

Supporting Story Content

End of Supporting Story Content

Back to accessibility links

Beginning of Story Content

This week's $50-million boost by the Canadian Olympic Committee to high-performance sport in this country didn't get the attention it deserved.

The way I see it, this week's $50-million boost by the Canadian Olympic Committee to high-performance sport in this country didn't get the attention it deserved.

It didn't make a splash in the national media. As a matter of fact, it barely caused a ripple. But think of it. "Own the Podium" is, for the most part, government money and it amounts to about $70 million a year to targeted sports.

The current announcement involves private or sponsorship money beyond the $50 million that the COC already kicks in over the course of a four-year Olympic cycle.

"They've positioned themselves well in the corporate world," said Jean Paul Caron, CEO of Gymnastics Canada. "Now there is an increased focus on sport and that's a good thing because each of the 60 sports organizations has a chance to benefit from additional funding."

It's also an indication that corporate Canada is finally getting on board in a big way. In the past, the private sector has demonstrated a willingness to jump on the bandwagon when the Games roll around every two years, ostensibly to identify themselves with the Olympic brand and impassioned Canadian sentiment.
Now it seems they might be in for the long haul -- or the Olympic journey, if you will. 

"A lot of credit has to go to the COC," Caron conceded. "They've done a great job of fundraising and there is a commitment to make sure Canadian athletes attend major events in large numbers."
 
$100 million is a lot of money and, to be competitive, every sport needs money. Travel to face the best competition, sport science and hosting major events, not to mention world class-coaching, are all mighty expensive.

Canada's Olympic team fell short of expectation in London. This infusion of cash, which targets major Games preparation, building more efficient national sport organizations and the Pan Am Games team of 2015, will make a big difference in changing that outcome next time around.

Squash Canada executive director Danny Da Costa, who is overseeing a sport bidding for Olympic inclusion in 2020, was impressed by the announcement.

"It's huge for Canadian sport and it opens a lot of doors for excellence," he said. "And not only that, it gives Canadian athletes a more level field of play as they try to reach the podium."
 
And that's what Canadian fans seem to want. But success comes at a price and it takes patience. Therefore, every significant amount of support in tough economic times in order to grow what Canadians have come to perceive as worthwhile is not to be sneezed at.

"We're hopeful, as a Pan American Games-only sport for now, that this will help create awareness," Da Costa said. "The gap between big and small sports is growing and the hope is, with this support for TO2015 and the Pan Am Games, more of us will get more funding."

'Cost of doing business'

There is a note of caution in all of this. While there is more money and the corporations who have signed on with the Canadian Olympic team, like Hudson's Bay Company, Royal Bank of Canada, Suncor, General Mills and Air Canada, are not abandoning ship in tough times, the economic climate dictates a reality.

"It's a good thing, but there is a BUT in all of this," Caron said. "A lot of that has to do with an increase in the cost of doing business.

"Sochi will be much more expensive than Vancouver and getting a Canadian team there costs more. That's reality. 

"Still, more money is going into sport than there was before and it's another step in the right direction."

It's a sign that Canadians are increasingly valuing amateur, high-performance sport and remaining committed when sponsorship fatigue has reared its ugly head in the past. The bottom line is ... that's a good thing. Good on the Canadian Olympic Committee for making it happen.

What's On CBC Sports Weekend
 
CBC Sports Weekend has plenty on the go in mid-November.

On Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET, we'll begin two days of coverage from the Trophee Eric Bompard, the fifth of six ISU Grand Prix events. Canadian pairs champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford have a chance to join ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as well as Patrick Chan at the Grand Prix final in Sochi if they can hit the podium in Paris.

At 3:30 p.m. ET, Grand Slam Curling returns to CBC with the Masters from Brantford, Ont. Glenn Howard, Kevin Martin and the rest will be chasing not only the title but a $1-million cash bonus if they can win all of the Grand Slam events.

In addition, we'll catch up with Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic as he makes a rare appearance in Toronto.

On Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, we present the men's and women's curling finals from Brantford, while Championship Figure Skating on CBC is back on late night with the ladies and ice dance competitions from Paris.  

End of Story Content

Back to accessibility links

Story Social Media

End of Story Social Media