Tuesday, 13 December 2011

In Defense of Patrick Chan

I know I haven't been posting lately because I have been in hibernation mode for my exams.  But during the time away, a lot of of news has happened. Christie Blatchford, a columnist for the National Post, decided to post an extremely sexist article on little boys hugging (I shall get to that in a later post).  In addition to that, a super drunk couple was caught having sex on the TTC.

Yeah, big deal huh?  Well since including all of that would mean an incredibly long and dreadful post, I have decided to write about something, rather someone, who is dear to my heart in terms of Canadian sports.

Patrick Chan, whom we all know I love, was announced today as the recipient of 2011's Lou Marsh Award which makes him Canada's Athlete of the Year.

Kind of controversial after a few of his comments came under fire after a Reuters article popped up last week with quotes stating how he wished he could represent both China and Canada in figure skating.

If you're too lazy to read the article here are the quotes Patrick said.

"If you look at all the sports in China, the government is extremely involved and they are extremely proud of their athletes. People understand better what we do as skaters," Chan told Reuters in a telephone interview ahead of this week's Grand Prix Final in Quebec.

"Sometimes I feel we are not appreciated for how much work we put in. If my parents hadn't emigrated from China and say I had skated for China, things would have been very different. My parents wouldn't have had to make as much sacrifices as they have and there would be a lot more respect for what we do as figure skaters.
"I'm extremely well recognised in Korea just because of what I do on the ice and there is a lack of that in Canada because hockey is our sport and it will be for eternity. Figure skating has lost the draw and the attention (it used to have before)."
"Several years ago I felt more Canadian but I'm slowly feeling more Chinese and feel I should be more proud of being Chinese and appreciate where I've come from. (This is because) of the support I get from the Chinese community in Canada," Chan, who is fluent in English, French and Cantonese, said as he took a break from his intensive training schedule.

"I do (wish I could have represented both China and Canada when I compete). That would be the ideal situation... in a perfect world."
I'll admit here that I am going to be biased about this because it's Patrick Chan.  But if it were any other athlete saying similar comments, I would probably feel the same way.  
As a Chinese-Canadian of parents who immigrated here from Hong Kong (much like Patrick's parents), I am able to relate to Patrick because culture is important to me while Canada is where I'm actually from.  I once traveled to China myself, and I definitely felt the roots to my culture and therefore felt more Chinese.  So yes, I definitely can see where Patrick is coming from with his quotes.  But that doesn't mean he doesn't want to stop competing for Canada!!  He said so himself, he would not stop competing for Canada. 
As a student journalist, I have been able to learn how to judge articles for the way they are presented and written.  There is always a some sort of framing involved to show an angle of of the story. Unfortunately for Patrick, Reuters decided to angle his quotes in an unfavourable way.  In this piece, he sounds pompous and is made to seem somewhat "unproud" of his Canadian heritage.  But who's to say that's how he actually sounded during the interview?  It's only in print...so people can make up their own assumptions of the tone of voice he's using.  
But even though I am on Patrick's side of the game I do have criticisms for his comments.  He mentions how the Chinese have incredible support for their athletes, but I don't think he quite understands what he is saying because he isn't a citizen of China.  HE IS CANADIAN, AFTER ALL.  
Heck, I don't know what goes on there either but I have heard and seen news pieces about young Chinese children going into training at an incredibly young age to become elite Olympic athletes.  They have to watch their diets and sometimes, they are the hope of their families to get some wealth.  So to hear Patrick say something like this-- where he is so privileged living in a country with good education, wonderful coaches and freedom of choice--was a little bit upsetting to me.  I don't quite think he has a complete grasp of the world or how lucky he is to have so much support from his own country.  
But other than that,  Patrick does have a point about figure skaters (and amateur athletes) being under-appreciated in Canada.  In this culture of hockey and professional sports, why can't we show some more love to amateur athletes who train just as hard but are paid less and publicized much less than those athletes who are shown on TV every night?!  And to say amateur sports doesn't matter is just plain ignorant. Those athletes have been putting as much effort into their sports as much as any other elite player. 
So this is why I think Patrick Chan is deserving of the Lou Marsh Award despite his comments and his inability to keep his incredibly honest thoughts to himself.  Yes, he "failed" at the Olympics by coming in fifth...but he has since learned to improve his skills by adding a quad to his repertoire. Since then, he has won two Grand Prix Finals, his fourth Canadian Championship, a World Champion Crown, and set three Guinness World Records.

Yes, I know people think he is overscored but perhaps people don't really understand the whole figure skating judging system.  And besides, it's not him who determines the scores!!  To say he hasn't accomplished a lot in the past year would be a lie.  
But that's not to say the other athletes nominated weren't just as deserving.  If it were up to me (even though I wanted Patrick to win), it would have been between Dylan Armstrong, Milos Raonic and Eric Lamaze with Hickstead.  Dylan Armstrong is the #1 ranked shot putter in the world, but he only won silver at worlds. Milos Raonic climbed way up in the ATP rankings this year, but injury has plagued him from competing.  Eric Lamaze and Hickstead did wonderful things as an equestrian team.  To honour them both for the award would have been an honour of the champion horse's death.  
However, I truly believe 2011 was Patrick's year. Nothing really went wrong with him in terms of competitions.

So congratulations Mr. Chan, you truly deserve it. I hope you realize how much we Canadians actually love and support you. 
As for interviews, from a young journalist to a young athlete, I advise some media training to help you censor your comments.  
But enjoy the crown Patrick. And remember, Canada does love you. 

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