Pan Am Games deserve better from sporting world

At least there is a couple local medalists/finalists at Guadalajara in the Pan American Games.

At least there is a couple local medalists/finalists at Guadalajara in the Pan American Games.

Chris Kissock already has a gold medal from Team Canada’s baseball championship. Thea Culley was scheduled to play for a field hockey medal today.

Not, of course, that many in Canada have taken much notice. Even for a sports guy like me, Games results were a chore to search.

A long way from earlier decades, when Pan Am events were taken very seriously here, because we were all interested in our fellow citizens’ efforts and results.

Some Trailites actually cried when, “Mighty Mouse,” Elaine Tanner failed to capture a swimming gold back in the 60s.

Now it seems if big money isn’t involved – neither are Canadian couch potatos.

So we had billions and billions for the Olympic and got a pretty good party and not much else, from the expenditure. A trifling expenditure on the PanAm event, where many good Canadian results have been posted, but not much interest.

Oh, sure, there was a bit of a glow from the hockey gold medal during VanWhistler and the lower mainland did well in terms of infrastructure, but the payback was, it seems, restricted to that hockey thing for most of us.

As reports trickle in concerning the economic failure VanWhistler was – the latest is 16 months late and contains no positive surprises – even Games’ supporters pay no attention.

The Pan Ams are on now, not last year, but the media, and therefore most Canadians, simply don’t care much.

The fact that friends, neighbours and relatives are involved, and very excited to be, cuts no mustard with major media folks, who have money to follow.

The money flows from tax coffers through the Canadian Olympic Committee towards various sports groups, the bosses of which consider the Pan Ams just a midstream warmup (and in some cases qualifying gig) for the GAMES that matter.

There are great competitions at the PanAms, which are the biggest sporting event this hemisphere has, but not much glitz and glamour for administrators and the media to roll in – so the people that handle the money don’t sweat this event.

It’s really too bad – particularly for Canadian youth – that this is the case.

The Pan Ams are all about sports, the Olympics only marginally so (a very small percentage of the money Olympic committees spend at the games goes into sports and the venues left behind are seldom well utilized).

Just imagine if the 6-8-billion-taxpayer dollars, mostly wasted at VanWhistler, had been poured into improving access to sports of all sorts for ordinary (unfit and inactive, we’re told, to the point of damaging our economy and health-care systems) as well as elite-athlete Canadians.

Just imagine if the hundreds of millions budgeted for London 2012 was apportioned the same way.

Would we a better, fitter, nation? Probably.

Would the media and other assorted hangers-on be happy? Probably not, but they have lots of full-time professional activities with which to compensate. It’s bad enough the IOC is among the world’s most corrupt organizations – even worse than FIFA, which at least does a lot to promote and support the actual game of soccer.

It’s worse that a group of UBC, “academics,” seems to have been subborned into delay and obfuscation about the IOC-led uses of our money.

Worst of all is the thought of the positives that money could have influenced (but did not) had more than money/perks been on the minds of our “leaders.”