Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We Are the Champions, My Friend

Confession time: I think I might hate the Olympics. This in no way means that I dislike sport. On the contrary, I have participated in every sport short of camel racing at some point in my life, and I would probably give that a go if I could be guaranteed not to come away smelling like the back end of a Tasmanian devil. Or the back end of a camel for that matter.

 I have simply never enjoyed  the sly insults and  international rivalry that it inspires. We are told that the Games are supposed to bring the world together in a way that no other sporting event does because no matter what the Americans try and tell us, the Olympics IS ACTUALLY THE REAL WORLD SERIES OF EVERYTHING. All of this comes together to create a dilemma in a town such as Stavanger, where every other person you meet is from somewhere else.

So what’s a gal to do when she is a visitor seated in the home section? I just knew that I would not be able to escape the Olympic fever in Norway.  Norwegians are annoyingly good at winter sport so how could they fail to be obsessed by the successes and defeats of the world’s best winter athletes? I knew that I would have to show some kind of interest in this spectacle and probably have to talk some “smack” about how Canada was gonna take Montenegro down in something I am sure is called Super G slope style short track speed curling. This enthusiasm would be expected of me since my native land, Canada, also takes its winter sport seriously. Well, we take one sport seriously.  That sport would be hockey, or when that doesn’t pan out, hockey fighting.

As the Olympics approached, I could feel a sense of unease creep over me. One thing I love more than anything else about Stavanger is the harmony that seems to exist amongst the expats and Norwegian community. I know not all Stavanger residents would agree with me on this, but my experience has been that expats and Norwegians work and play quite well together in this sandbox we call Rogaland, and I hate the idea of anything upsetting that fine balance.

Then the stinking Olympics had to come along.

On the day after the Games began, I noticed a strange silence fall over our office. I must state, for the record, that my office is quite international, and boasts 10 different nationalities amongst a group of 20 people. We were all on high alert for the first person to strike. Would it be the American, who would most certainly be eaten alive by just about every other nationality for being over-confident or boastful? Or would it be our hosts the Norwegians, who may have every right to be as confident as the Americans, but could be over powered by their sheer lack of numbers?

It was day three before the insults really started flying, over e- mail and office communicator at first, and gradually escalating to an all -out war of words on how certain teams were getting certain parts of their anatomy kicked. By the end of week one, pretty much every nationality in the office had been battered, bruised and served up a big plate of you guys suck. What had happened to the sweet little multi-cultural utopia of Stavanger?

Maybe she will return once the final medal count is done and the last closing ceremony fireworks have been extinguished. At that point, it’s possible we can all come together once again and be friends, without any of these petty clashes or  the cut-throat competition. The unity and peace we once had here can return.

Unless Canada loses at hockey, of course. Then all bets are off. 

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