Council should support athletes

I enjoy the Olympics and I try to overcome my natural cynicism and skepticism to embrace the Olympic ideals.

I enjoy the Olympics and I try to overcome my natural cynicism and skepticism to embrace the Olympic ideals.

Nevermind that few of any nation’s athletes are true “amateurs” anymore.

Last weekend I spent the better part of two hours rolling around in the mud under my house to diagnose and repair a problem with the TV cable running out to the gazebo where I plan to watch our Canadian athletes compete in HD on the London stage; gin and tonicing them on the victory.

Maybe it’s because I won a gold medal in cursing while under the house in the luge position that I’m disappointed town council made no effort at all to support Ponoka’s aspiring Olympic athletes.

You want to promote Ponoka’s name around the world? How about having two Canadian Olympic athletes list their hometowns as Ponoka, Alta.? Did the world know where Caroline, Alta. was before Kurt Browning turned a quad in world championship figure skating? Google world champion skeleton racer Mellisa Hollingsworth and the Town of Eckville’s corporate website is at the top of the list.

Alas, town council lacks the imagination to see the benefit of providing a pittance toward the development of wresting sensation Kelsey Raab or sprint dynamo Isatu Fofanah. I find it hard to believe that the taxpayers they say they are protecting by withholding any financial support would share their miserly decision.

In addition to her own fundraising efforts, Raab was asking town and county councils for some financial support in her effort to compete at the Cadet Wrestling World Championships in Azerbaijan later this month.

Ponoka County council, some of whom might remember listening to the original Greek Olympics on radio, donated $1,000 to help defray Raab’s expenses. Businesses in Ponoka, including Ponoka News, are also proud financial supporters of our elite athletes.

Town council will gladly suck up the deficit to build and annually maintain the arena, curling rink, swimming pools, ball diamonds, soccer pitches and walking trails but can’t find a few thousand dollars to support Ponoka’s elite athletes who excel outside of the usual school and community sports  programs?

This is a no-brainer and exactly what town council displayed when they denied Raab’s request. Why not establish a policy that council will support elite athletes, establish benchmark criteria the applicants have to meet, set deadlines when requests have to be in to council and have a committee consider the applications in the fall for winter sports and in the spring for summer sports.

Call it the Mayor’s Champions Fund. Some years it might not get spent at all but let the fund build every year with a certain percentage of the mill rate, say one-tenth of a mill.

Council says it supports in principle helping youths achieve their goals.

It’s time to put that into practice.

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