Crawl Across the Ocean

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

40. Olympic Break

Note: This post is the fortieth in a series. Click here for the full listing of the series.

Well, between the Olympics and being a little under the weather, I decided to postpone the post I had planned and just offer a couple of brief notes on the Guardian syndrome as illustrated by recent events at the 2010 Olympics.

Of course, the Olympics are an entirely guardian affair, with origins in the military and the emphasis on amateurism which parallels the guardian aversion to commerce, so here's a couple of examples of thing done right, respecting guardian ethics and things done wrong, in contravention of Guardian ethics.

1) A story about a company in Burlington working on a high tech snowboard for the Canadian Olympic team. We hear that, "the Canadians are being careful to protect their secret." (deceit for the sake of the task). We also hear that,
"it's [the new snowboard] not for sale, either. The deal Apex president Gerry Kavanaugh cut with Own The Podium, the program started to help Canada become the No. 1 medal-winning nation at the 2010 Games, gives them the exclusive rights.

Besides, you get the impression Kavanaugh and Apex manager Matt Clarke, who are donating hundreds of hours to the project, would not divulge anything to a competing nation, even under threat of torture."

A great example of being exclusive and shunning trading - and why those are good things under the Guardian syndrome.

"Money certainly isn't the motivation. The project will cost Apex about $75,000 more than they're receiving from Own The Podium. Kavanaugh, 29, and Clarke, 22, are totally dedicated to helping the athletes. Clarke wakes up at 6 a.m. when the team races in Europe so he can get results on the Internet.

"It's pride really," Clarke said."

An example of how in guardian work, sacrifice is called for - not material gain and self-interest, as the purpose is not the promotion of comfort and convenience, but rather victory over the enemy.

OK, second example. One of the ethics that is a bit surprising in the Guardian syndrome is 'be ostentatious' - the first reaction is that being ostentatious is not necessarily a good thing. But consider the Canada pavilion. Hume is the architecture critic for the Star, but I haven't encountered a soul, no matter how penny-pinching, who doesn't feel more should have been done to present a Canadian Olympic pavilion that doesn't look like a makeshift warehouse. In other words, the government failed in its duty towards ostentation.

Last example, respect tradition. I'm referring to the singing of the national anthem during the opening ceremonies. Nobody disputes the talent of the singer, or the quality of the performance, but there was a lot of condemnation that the ceremony failed to respect tradition by 'jazzing up' the national anthem. (a few examples)

Back to regular programming next week...

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