One of the rebukes of Canada and its new-found Olympic success at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver was that the true north strong and free perhaps wore its record total of gold medals just a little too well. From allegedly dominating practice schedules to a certain in-your-face swagger over winning the gold-medal race, the home team's hubris grated on the other countries of the world that had done this sort of thing more than once.
The charge was loudly rejected in a Canada suddenly infatuated with the idea of being a front runner after decades as the bronze-medal kings. If we showed too much emotion it was understandable in the circumstances. Give us a mulligan and we'll be back ever so 'umble the next time.
But Canada the Cocky is seemingly back in the series of commercials that the Canadian TV consortium has been running the past year or so for the London Games. "The movement that changed Canada is taking over the world," proclaims our old pal Gordon Pinsent. Apparently, Canada triumphed in Vancouver because, as the slogan said, We Believe!The own-the-podium attitude transformed us from ugly ducklings to sumptuous swans.
Now, say the ads, we have taught the world the secret of our success. The newly enlightened nations are coming to England infused with the Canadian Believe! formula to …um, beat Canada? (The ads are a little fuzzy on this point.) In the commercials, we see athletes from India to Jamaica to China, in their colourful native costumes, inspired by Believe! preparing to beat the snot out of Canada at the Games.
The notion that Canada has something to teach the United States, Germany, Russia or any of the other titans of sport about winning is risible, of course. They have been waxing Canada in competition for decades. They will do very well in London with or without Canada's panacea.
Canada will do fine, too, whether it believes or not. Hopefully it will take home many medals. And leave the lectures behind.
The Open Championship, won by Ernie Els, was the perfect opportunity for Canadians to get their body clocks oriented to watching TV earlier in the day. By your time zone shall ye know the start of the 100-metre final, the marathon or beach volleyball in chilly olde England.
Here is the formula: London is five hours ahead of Eastern time. That's 3 1/2 ahead of Newfoundland and eight hours ahead of Pacific time. Morning events in London will be late-night viewing in Vancouver. Evening in London will be mid-afternoon in Toronto. And prime time here is the middle of the British night, with only CTV's Brian Williams stirring.
If in any doubt, just consult Williams, the Greenwich Mean Time of broadcasters.
Sometimes TV is not like real life. On the ESPN telecast of the Open Championship on Saturday, host Mike Tirico was talking about the unspeakable shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colo., the night before. When the cameras found him and his analyst Paul Azinger, the former PGA Tour star was beaming broadly, clearly at odds with the tone of Tirico's sober statement.
It all seemed a little curious and left us scratching our head. Anyone who knows Azinger, a serious, conservative fellow who often tweets about his beliefs, knows he'd never disrespect the Colorado victims.
Sure enough, a few hours later, a contrite Azinger popped up to apologize if he'd given offence. Seems, as often happens on TV sets, he was unaware of what Tirico was saying. He'd been involved with a technician who'd playfully taken off Azinger's sunglasses just as the cameras came on. Hence the smile. And probably a deluge of phone calls from viewers. Making TV can humble the best of us.
Azinger got into a more conventional mess when Tiger Woods landed in a sod-wall bunker on the fifth hole of the final round Sunday. Studying the impossible angle Woods faced against the steep wall, Azinger counselled him to take an unplayable lie, get out of the bunker and give himself a clear shot to the hole. Naturally, the impetuous Woods (who could not hear Azinger) decided to hack himself out.
Woods performed the dreaded two shots in the bunker, three-whacked on the green and had his Open hopes go cheerio. Azinger was just about to say "I told you so" when an Royal & Ancient rules official was produced by ESPN to say that, sorry, you can't remove the ball from a bunker even if taking a penalty stroke. It must remain sandy. Azinger explained that he'd been told otherwise, but the excuse didn't resonate quite as well as the sunglasses story.
When Tirico suggested there'd be plenty of second guessing on Twitter, Azinger described Tweet nation as "a bunch of clowns." Which brought more Twitter abuse for 'Zinger and a spelling-charged reply. "@PaulAzinger The only people offended by clowns on twitter comment are the clowns themselves! #ToDumbToKnowTheirClowns"