A comment from a friend of mine the other day, while throwaway in nature, took me aback.
This isn’t word for word but it was something along the lines of: ‘congratulations to the medal winners in the Winter Olympics, you’re the best of the few people rich enough to try your sport.’
And while there is an element of truth in some of this - you don’t see everyone taking up the bobsleigh after all - it seemed a touch disingenuous.
Is this how sporting success should be judged?
Is an achievement less worthy of celebration because those participating happen to be in a minority?
It’s not good enough for everybody so it’s not good enough for anybody?
By putting such a narrow slant on what is going on in Sochi, the pinnacle of winter sport is being viewed as an elitist sideshow which fails to give it any real context.
Take it for what it is, however, and you will see the very best of what these sports have to offer and if they are far from being a widespread pastime then so what.
The vast majority of sports, games and pastimes, certainly at an elite level, are confined to a relatively small percentage of the planet’s population but this doesn’t make any of them less worthy.
Being the best purveyor of a curling stone is no mean feet, neither is descending a demanding slalom course in the shortest time and to demean these efforts does them a real disservice.
Personally, the ice hockey aside, the winter games rarely makes me sit up and take notice and the same of true for most events at the summer games.
But sporting excellence is exactly that and it would be nice, if a bit of turn up for the books, if more could put their prejudices to one side and view it as such.