Volume 92, Issue 72

Thursday, February 4, 1999


Bronzed Mustangs back from games

Mustang men shrink in Western's cold water

Excitement left behind in Thames

The World University Games are singing a different tune

Western rewind

Sports shorts

The World University Games are singing a different tune

Hype, hype and more hype.

Sunday's Super Bowl was preceded by enormous amounts of publicity and media coverage, so much so it became known that only one Atlanta Falcon cheerleader and three Denver Bronco cheerleaders were named Tiffany.

Now that's just taking things too far.

So it was a breath of fresh air to talk to the athletes and coaches involved in this year's World University Games held in Poprad-Tatry, Slovakia.

There were no scandals and practically no media coverage. Even on this very campus, where these athletes were representing the students and faculty, there was little if any coverage outside of the hockey team.

This was the WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES. People just like us, just like the student sitting next to you in history class, were over in Slovakia representing their countries and their schools.

And one of the nicest things about the whole event was that it was practically ignored by everyone. The athletes weren't under the microscope. Corporations weren't there trying to land athletes to sell their products. Men and women from around the globe got a once in a lifetime experience playing the sports they love, for no other reason than the love of the game.

This microcosm of the Olympic Games even avoided the negative press the International Olympic Committee is garnering. With over 2,000 athletes there, all living on a military base, it was a chance for the future of this planet to get together to talk and learn from each other.

There were no drug scandals, nobody bribed anyone to host the games and no one tried to buy sex before their big day.

Instead, athletes from all over got to see how others approach their sport. What does the Japanese hockey team do to try and beat Croatia? These were the questions being asked – not "do you think he's taking steroids?"

In a time when pro athletes are making millions of dollars and many now feel the Olympic stage is theirs as well, it's nice to see athletes doing something not for money but for the love of their sport and their country.

Jim Moss and Jeff Petrie were two of the lucky athletes who had the opportunity of a lifetime and to hear them speak about their experiences will give you chills. They talk about exchanging clothes and seeing the other athletes around the base. They talk about the feeling of pride they felt entering the stadium for the opening ceremonies. They talk about the indescribable feeling of donning the Canadian jersey.

But the most wonderful feeling they talk about is the fabulous learning experience.

Ten years from now, they and the other athletes in attendance probably won't remember every single day the way they do now. But they will remember the feelings they had. The feeling of getting the medal put on or cheering on the other athletes at different events.

This event was truly a large event. The Canadian hockey team drew an estimated 15,000 people out to their games, but there haven't been any complaints about organization. There were no bomb threats or hostage takings.

It was an event where people competed and celebrated at the same time. Everyone was friends and everyone was there to have fun. Compare it to the Special Olympics where everyone is smiling and everyone is just happy to be there.

What a breath of fresh air.

John Dinner can be reached by email at gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

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Copyright The Gazette 1999