I can’t believe how much communication technology has changed in my lifetime (I have fears of becoming the poor old guy who can’t work the newfangled whatchamacallit): with this year’s Olympics, smart phones provided a palpable, real-time experience. And we can post and tweet to our hearts content, and the world can answer back. We can know how an athlete feels almost immediately after the event. We no longer have to sit down, glued to the TV; we don’t even have to be at a computer, we can check our phones for instant updates and streaming: instant gratification, the opiate of the masses.
Sociolympics 2012 was a buzz of information: the Twitterverse was awash with messages; so much so, that newsworthy stories were replaced in rapid succession, making Andy Warhol’s ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ statement seem like an overestimate.
And sports has become a big business. When I was young (up until I stumbled out of my teens), the Olympics was truly inspirational to me; I was a competitive swimmer, and I dreamed of competing in the event some day (alas, my only claim to fame was losing regularly to people who medaled in Olympic events). Perhaps my eyes were dazzled with the inexperience of youth and I have become jaded, but my youthful dreams seem part of another lifetime; a simpler time, when the media coverage was focused solely on athletic endeavors, and not so much on winning. To be fair, winning was always a big deal; however, for me, the symbolic rings have been tarnished in the years since I dreamed of participating in the Olympics.
But every time my negativity reared its ugly head, a feel-good story would appear in the social media and wash away any traces of pessimism.
And, after the Olympics was over and done with, one final story rippled through the social media network. The story will fade away, to be replaced by other news, but it will stick with me for a while; it was an unselfish, empathic act by a ten-year old boy.
The 4×100 meter relay is one of the premier track and field races of the Olympics; an exciting, prestigious event. The Jamaican team won gold, the American’s the silver, and Trinidad & Tobago took the bronze. The Canadian team had crossed the finish line in third place (an exciting moment for Canadian fans), but they were disqualified because Jared Connaughton stepped out of his lane. And this is where the ten-year old boy from Paradise Newfoundland, Elijah Porter, enters the picture.
Elijah was watching and saw the replays of the Canadian runner step on/over the line: Elijah thought it was unfair that it cost the team the bronze, and he sent a letter, along with his Timbits soccer medal, to the team; and in particular, he wanted Jared Connaughton to feel better. Justyn Warner, a member of the Canadian relay team, tweeted about the unselfish act; and, at least in Canada, the news spread like wildfire (picture of Elijah Porter ).
When asked why he’d sent the letter, Elijah said, “When I saw that he touched the line, I thought, ‘Why are rules like that?’ Even though it’s unchangeable, I thought I could make him feel better by sending him a letter, and sending him my own medal.”
Nicki Power, a Tim Hortons spokeswoman (for those not in-the-know, Tim Hortons is a Canadian donut and coffee shrine), said the company will replace his Timbits soccer medal, and also offer him a Tim Hortons 21-speed mountain bike as a reward for his altruism.