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A trial jumper soars through the air in front of the Olympic rings during a Nordic Combined training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (Matthias Schrader/AP)
A trial jumper soars through the air in front of the Olympic rings during a Nordic Combined training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

John Doyle

Amazing facts learned from watching Olympics TV commercials Add to ...

Back in 776 BC in Olympia, when athletes gathered to show off and boost hometown pride, one assumes there was a guy standing around explaining stuff.

“Here comes Leonidas, all the way from Rhodes, where he lives in a tiny village up in the hills. He says his mom is his biggest supporter and, if he wins by throwing that flat stone farther than anyone else, he’s dedicating his win to her. Lets hear it for Leonidas and his om!”

Just like Ron Maclean and his CBC buddies are doing in Sochi today. What they didn’t get back in ancient Greece, one assumes, was commercials.

Eight days in, the thrill has softened a bit, gone squishy like the snow and ice in Sochi. If you’re watching Olympics TV in most of Canada, you are bound to be a bit begrudging. It’s cold, ice, snow here. In Sochi the other day it was hotter than it was on that day in London in 2012 when Usain Bolt became the fastest man on earth. In. The. Summer. Olympics.

Still, for about four days Canada was well pleased with itself. Medals galore. Champions, world-beaters and cute. Also kind and self-effacing. Willing to share, like really, really good kids. Here, dude, take my ski. Dude, take my place on the team. No biggie. Brewski later?

Then the avalanche of medals became a trickle. So we just sat and actually noticed all the commercials. There are a lot of them. If you watch streamed coverage online, you can get stuck in commercial hell. The same boasting pitch for some product or service every few minutes, over and over. Even if you’re watching on your huge flat-screen or the tiny TV in the kitchen, you’re seeing an astonishing amount of commercials. From these we learn things. Herewith a list of thing we’ve learned.

The Alberta oil sands is not only a source of energy, it’s really, really pretty there. All green growth, pink blossoms and pristine water. It’s like the Bahamas, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Biting on a Chicken McNugget at McDonalds is the same as biting on a Gold medal at the Olympics. Exactly the same. We’ve seen this enacted about 5,000 times, so it’s now starting to seem totally true. Some athletes must wish they’d known this fact years ago.

Everyone who works at McDonalds from the CEO to the kid flipping burgers is a huge hockey fan and highly knowledgeable about the game. They can recount Canada’s Gold medal victory in Vancouver, second by second, play by play. Go into any McDonalds and you’ll find this to be true. Go on, I dare ya.

Nothing at the Olympics is as exciting as going to a Casino. Nothing.

Moms create Olympians with unflagging support, from cheering to putting band-aids on scratches and cuts. Dads have nothing to do with it. Ever. In the world of Olympians, dads don’t even exist. Proctor & Gamble is a pretty big company, does a lot of research, so they must know this to be a fact and feel it imperative to reveal the truth to the world.

If you see a guy walking around with balloons he’s got a ring in his back pocket and is going to propose to his sweetheart. Who will swoon and say “yes!” From other commercials we can extrapolate that if they have a kid who is athletic, mom will nourish and support the kid, while dad disappears off the face of the earth. Maybe balloons take him away.

Driving the new BMW is just like driving the Bobsleigh. Not a whit of difference.

About 99% of Canadians are watching the Olympics on a little tablet thing or a cell phone. They do this at work during meetings or while fishing in the North Atlantic. Oddly, none of these people seem annoyed at seeing the same commercial every five minutes, the picture freezing and none experience the frustration mounting until they smash the device to pieces.

Air Canada is an overachiever. From crack of dawn to fall of night, they overachieve. This is stunning news. Earth-shattering, a rebuke to the myth that Air Canada has lousy service, overcharges and screwed up its loyalty program. We can expect Pastor Mansbridge to be discussing this huge news soon on The National. It could take up a whole At Issue panel.

There is so much to learn. On second thought, there must have been commercials back in 776 BC in Olympia. A guy bellowing, “You think this is fun? Ha bloody ha! Get thee to a casino. Dads, get out your dinars! It all you’re good for, anyway.”

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