When you take on leadership roles and express strong opinions you’re bound to face criticism. This I’m used to and I welcome constructive criticism and debate. I love learning and exploring ideas. And this week, I received some criticism that gave me extra pause to think.
In a recent commentary, I questioned Genie Bouchard’s commitment to her matches in Rio based on her focus on social media and sponsorship activities. It was not fair to place my assumptions directly upon an athlete that I do not know personally. I did not mean for my comments to offend. Nor was it my intention to belittle the pursuit of fashion or selfie-art. For this, I apologize.
Our Canadian women at Rio are incredible. They are bringing home the maple bacon this Games. They have moved me to cheers and to tears. I feel nothing but regret when I think that my inadvertent comments, on live TV, could take any attention away from these heroes of our Games.
I was exploring another idea: Can an athlete perform at their peak while also focusing heavily on sponsorship and social media? It’s a personal question for me. I have experienced first hand a scenario where athletes’ focus on media and outside influences have negatively impacted performance – my Men’s 8+ in Athens, 2004. I believe a contributing factor to our disappointing 5th place finish was our focus on media attention leading up to and during our races. So much so, that in 2008 our team took a step back from the spotlight and we showed up stronger.
Whether it’s video games, craft beer, or hopscotch – any passion outside our core focus and purpose can be distracting. This balance is different for everybody, and every athlete needs to determine what balance works for them.
I admire, respect and support all Canadian athletes striving for their best, male and female alike. I look forward to joining with the rest of Canada in celebrating our newest homegrown heroes.