- To contend for number one in 2014 Olympic Winter Games (total medals)
- Place in the top three in the gold medal count at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
- Place in the top 12 nations in medal count at the 2012 Olympic Games
- Place in the top eight in the gold medal count at the 2012 Paralympic Games
Then it was reported that at least one national (winter) sport governing body had stated that it endorsed the policy while all the others, when contacted, declined comment. No, I'm not curious as to whether that national sport governing body was the Canadian Curling Association as I'd be shocked if it was.
When contacted by the CBC, curling's own Anne Merklinger, CEO of OTP dispelled the story saying that it had no such plan or policy.
Whomever started the rumor based it upon the notion that sports with successful track records deserve to be rewarded by increased funding while those that find themselves traveling in the opposite direction will have to try to do more with less seemed to want something of a debate on this issue. Clearly for Canada, success on the international stage is much more pronounced in the winter than in the summer as OTP's mission statement seemed to verify. That's just a fact. Nonetheless, the funding/success conundrum is a curious one. A case could be made that the sports that are struggling to "make it to the podium" need the funding to do just that.
South of the 39th parallel, the national women's curling programme currently receives more funding than the comparable men's programme. Why? Simple, recent international success. The U.S. national women's curling teams have a better international track record. Is that increased funding a reward for that success or incentive for the men to, in the vernacular, get the lead out (or a little of each)?
As at least some of you know, my coaching career started at the University of Waterloo in my hometown of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON. It took ten years to win the OUAA Championship and when we did finally succeed, we did it in stereo (m&w). And those championships came in my last year as Varsity Coach as I had already accepted the position of National Development Coach with the Canadian Curling Association in Calgary, AB.
Along that trail I met coaches from post secondary institutions in Ontario who did not get nearly the level of funding my programme received. In just about every case the story I got was that funding was tied to success. If the programme produced championships, increased funding followed in kind. It was not at all unusual for the scholastic athletes to bear the entire financial burden with the coach in a volunteer capacity. In my case the UW varsity curling programme was well funded. When at one point, in frustration, I tried to resign my position as Varsity Coach due to lack of competitive success, the UW Athletic Director refused to accept my resignation stating that it's not about winning, it's about developing athletes. He said I was doing that rather well in his opinion. He taught me a valuable lesson as a result of that meeting. You can't control the outcome, only the journey toward it.
A few months ago I encouraged all of you to read "The Gold Mine Effect". I hope you did that. For those new readers. please get a copy. It will change the way you see yourself as "coach", the way you see your "athletes" and how you conduct your training programmes. And, germane to the topic of this post, it blows away the notion that to have a successful athletics programme, one requires a state-of-the-art facility. The track club in Jamaica that produces world class sprinters doesn't even have a track. The athletes train on a grass field! But what those athletes do have are "role models" and a coach (known in Anker Andersen's book as a "guru") who besides never having been a sprinter, isn't afraid to think "outside-the-box"!
While we're on the topic of funding, in the U.S., there's no public funding for Olympic training programmes. The United States Olympic Committee must, by law, conduct its own fundraising. In other words, it's corporate America & private citizens who fund U.S. Olympic programmes. There are those in Canada who feel our Olympic athletes and the Canadian Olympic Committee should follow the American example and fund their training programmes, stop relying on government handouts and get off their backsides and fund their own training programmes. To be fair, there are many Canadian corporations who fund high performance training as well as many citizens who make donations to help our Olympians get the training required. I just now watched a CBC video of Canadian Olympic hopefuls who are presently engaged in unique ways of generating funds to help pay the day-to-day bills and still train.
Waiting for success as the watermark to funding seems to be the ultimate "Catch 22" in athletics. If a programme had success, the argument could be made that it then doesn't require funding (although who could turn any dollars down?).
The title of this post is "Where Do You Come Down On This". I know for a fact that I have readers from various provinces and territories in Canada and from many countries around the curling world. I really want to hear from you on this! I'm delighted that you've taken the time to read this post but I want/need your comment! How does it work in your province/territory/country and where do you come down on this issue? You can comment directly on this blog site or you can send me your thoughts via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) but I'd much rather you respond below so others can see your opinion(s). Comments on this site are always anonymous! If you know that there are those in your circle of friends who have thoughts on this matter, please make them aware of this blog site so they can weigh in.
I know what some of you are thinking as you read this post. "Heh Bill, how do you feel on this?" For now, I'm employing author's prerogative and remaining neutral although, if you read carefully between the lines ...
I always welcome comments but this time it's really important that you do!!!!!