Teachable Moments - 2018 Olympics

For the past two weeks our school’s lesson plans have been punctuated with Olympic events and athletic endeavours. We held our breath during the pairs figure skating finals, we discussed curling strategies, and our students even tried to luge down a pile of snow in a Loblaw’s parking lot! Our Canadian athletes made us so proud as we racked up more medals than ever before. The time flew by like a run-away bobsled! Now the flame is extinguished. As the athletes return to their training and reflect on their performances, what lessons can the rest of us mortals take away from Pyeongchang? Educators are always looking for exciting examples to enhance their teaching. Sporting events often provide teachers with marvelous metaphors that can be manipulated to illustrate important academic instructions. The 2018 Olympics in South Korea have been replete with rich, teachable moments. Unfortunately, three valuable lessons come from peccadilloes perpetrated by our own Canadian athletes. Lesson number 1: Always take the high road. In women’s curling, a sweeper on the Danish team brushed against one of their previously thrown rocks. The Danish sweeper indicated this to the Canadian team. The Canadian captain immediately decided to remove their rock, or as it is called in the sport, “burn it”. She had every right to do this but many observers saw it as both unnecessary and petty. With one brisk brush of her broom, the Canadian captain put into doubt our country’s reputation of being both friendly and fair. The Canadian team ended up losing that game and, for the first time ever, they will come home with no Olympic medal. Lesson number 2: Alcohol can make you do stupid things. Much of what actually happened may never be known because the individuals involved were reportedly quite drunk. What we do know is that a Canadian snowboard-cross athlete, his wife and his coach were arrested for driving a stolen Hummer, somewhere in South Korea, while intoxicated. This brings back memories of the team of drunken American Olympic swimmers in Rio. There is a time, a place and an appropriate way to celebrate. Olympic athletes are supposed to be ambassadors for their home countries. As reports of this scandal leaked out, Canada’s status, on the world’s biggest stage, dropped to an all-time low. The three alleged carjackers were conspicuous by their absences at the closing ceremonies. Lesson number 3: Display dignity even in defeat. Our women’s hockey team was destined to win gold at these games – or so they thought until they didn’t. They lost gold and were awarded silver. But being the second best women’s hockey team on the planet was just not good enough for one of the players and so she refused to wear the medal. She didn’t throw it to the fans like a Swedish hockey player did at the end of the 2018 World juniors, but she might as well have. Like a churlish, sulking child she clutched it in her hand until the ceremony was complete. Emotions run high, especially in tightly fought battles such as a Canada-US hockey game. However, Canada’s image as a magnanimous nation of hockey fanatics took a hit because one player set aside national dignity for selfish pride. All of these athletes will undoubtedly look back on their poor decisions with regret. They will each return to Canada and we will embrace them because being Canadian means being forgiving and moving forward. As we return to our regular classes we find ourselves richer, more powerful and better equipped to face the challenges of our daily lives. We will each learn important lessons from these three regrettable events from the 2018 Olympics. Fortunately we have athletes such as Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, Kim Boutin, Cassie Sharpe, Mark McMorris, Justine Dufour-Lapointe, and many others to hold up as positive role models. They embody our team’s slogan: be virtuous, be victorious, be Canadian, be Olympic."

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