January 8, 2015

Let’s concentrate on other sports, Canada

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

After the world junior triumph by Team Canada on Monday and coming off Olympic gold medals by both our men’s and women’s teams at the Olympics in Sochi last year, it is very clear that we are back on top of the world as the undisputed best country in the world at ice hockey.

So, after climbing that mountain, let’s aim for another one.

Let’s call this mountain: Anything-but-ice-hockey.

Canada is so good at this sport that any tournament that it enters it will be considered the favourite – and rightfully so.

In the women’s game, there are only two world-class teams, with the Canadians and Americans always dueling for the gold.

In the juniors, Canada is always the best team out there, but has blown it the past few years. If you think otherwise, just look at the first round of the NHL draft.

In the 2014 draft, almost half (14 of 30) of the first-round picks were from Canada and six of the top seven were Canucks. The year before, 18 first-round picks were Canadian.

At the Olympics, you could’ve built a team with the all of guys that Canada didn’t take and have a good shot at a medal.

So, here’s what I propose: Let’s try to get stronger as a nation at other sports.

If we use 20% of government funding allocated to ice hockey and if one of every five top ice hockey prospects took up a different sport, we could still dominate on the ice while developing other sports and creating diversity on the sporting landscape.

Just look at some other sports and we fare in them:

-While Canada produces some decent baseball players, there’s not enough to ever contend at the WBC.

-We had just one gold medal at the 2012 Summer Games and were tied for 13th in overall medals.

-In the current FIFA rankings, Canada is ranked 112th in the world and hasn’t qualified for a World Cup since 1986.

-Can anybody name the last Canadian-born QB to start in the CFL? Has one ever been successful? I’m guessing probably not.

-Mike Weir winning the Masters was an excellent story, but how often do Canadians win even low-end tournaments on the PGA Tour?

-We’re finally getting our act together in tennis, so no complaints there. Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic are arguably the two greatest Canadian tennis players ever – which is saying something about our history.

Can we not aim to improve at these other global sports and bring some pride in other areas?

As great as winning gold in ice hockey feels every time out, just making the World Cup would feel even better.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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