Patrick Chan said nothing wrong – in fact he’s dead right
Listening to a couple of commentators talk about Patrick Chan on the radio this morning, it sounded like he was going to have to surrender his Canadian passport before the Grand Prix Final in Quebec City this week.
They were talking as if the world champion figure skater had reportedly said he would rather skate for his parents’ birth country of China.
The only thing is he never said that. Not once in the Reuters report that is being cited as the source did Chan say any such thing.
Here’s the first block of quotes from Reuters:
"If you look at all the sports in China, the government is extremely involved and they are extremely proud of their athletes. People understand better what we do as skaters," Chan told Reuters in a telephone interview ahead of this week's Grand Prix Final in Quebec.
"Sometimes I feel we are not appreciated for how much work we put in. If my parents hadn't emigrated from China and say I had skated for China, things would have been very different. My parents wouldn't have had to make as much sacrifices as they have and there would be a lot more respect for what we do as figure skaters.
"I'm extremely well recognized in Korea just because of what I do on the ice and there is a lack of that in Canada because hockey is our sport and it will be for eternity. Figure skating has lost the draw and the attention (it used to have before)."
Okay, so what’s wrong with that?
Athletes are better supported in China and many other countries. Would he want to live and compete under that regime in China? Unlikely. But he’s NOT saying “I want to skate for China.”
He’s saying his parents wouldn’t have to make the sacrifices for him they’ve made here – which for them has meant going into debt and living apart as Chan trains in Colorado Springs, where mother Karen oversees things.
Let’s face it, Patrick Chan’s initials don’t stand for “politically correct.” He says what he thinks, but does not always think before he speaks. Better to have that than the robotic responses you get in most hockey dressing rooms.
Figure skating has lost its lustre and with it Chan’s chance to cash in on his world record breaking win at the world championships. It had to be disappointing to win so big and so impressively in Moscow and come home to a minimum of fanfare.
Let’s face it, very few people eve knew or cared there was a Grand Prix Final in Quebec City this week before Chan’s comments created a stir.
As for not being appreciated in his own country, he’s got some very good company – almost all of his fellow Olympians. Wasn’t that Olympic skeleton champion Jon Montgomery and teammate Mellisa Hollingsworth practically having to beg recently for a major sponsor for their federation just over a year after the Vancouver Games?
Most of our athletes and their sports are way more appreciated in other countries. Heck, the Canadian canoe and kayak team used to be sponsored by a Hungarian company.
Okay, here’s the other main quote from Reuters regarding his Chinese heritage:
"Several years ago I felt more Canadian but I'm slowly feeling more Chinese and feel I should be more proud of being Chinese and appreciate where I've come from. (This is because) of the support I get from the Chinese community in Canada," Chan, who is fluent in English, French and Cantonese, said as he took a break from his intensive training schedule.
"I do (wish I could have represented both China and Canada when I compete). That would be the ideal situation... in a perfect world."
What’s wrong with that? He DIDN’T say “I want to compete for China.” He’s gaining more appreciation as he gets older for his Chinese heritage and wishes he could pay it homage by competing for both.
The Chinese community in Toronto has given him huge support with at least two big fundraisers.
People are hammering Chan on this. Undoubtedly, Don Cherry will use him as a punching bag on Coaches Corner, though he should take note the kid does play hockey.
In Canada more than anywhere else, people should be able to understand his pride in his background.
Everybody loved it when wrestler Daniel Igali kissed the Canadian flag after winning Olympic gold at the 2000 Sydney Games, but a big part of his heart was still in Nigeria – in fact he’s a politician there now.
When Chan won big in Moscow, he was only carrying one flag. Take a look at the picture above to see which one it was.