As the 2018 Winter Olympics prepares to open Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, we look back at Canada’s hockey entry in the 1964 Games at Innsbruck, a team built and coached by Fr. David Bauer. Register File photo

The Register Archive: Olympic team does us proud, even in defeat

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  • January 25, 2018

To mark The Catholic Register’s 125th year, we are digging into our archive to re-publish interesting stories from the pages of our past. As the 2018 Winter Olympics prepares to open Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, we look back at Canada’s hockey entry in the 1964 Games at Innsbruck, a team built and coached by Fr. David Bauer. A controversial scoring system meant Canada finished fourth and out of the medals despite a 5-2 record, but the team’s showing inspired words of comfort from columnist Fr. Tom Raby in The Register, in the Feb. 22, 1964 issue:


By REV. T.J. RABY

Congratulations, Father Bauer!

You and your boys on Canada’s Olympic hockey team were wonderful. You didn’t win in goals every time you stepped out on the ice. But you won great credit for yourselves and Canada in your losses as well as your victories.

You didn’t end up with gold medals. In fact you didn’t win any kind of medals.

So what! You gained more in defeat. You gained the admiration and respect of everyone.

The world has a funny way of going right on in spite of wins and losses in sport.

Canada didn’t collapse at Russia’s victory. The stock market didn’t even quiver. I think we feel as proud of you in defeat as we would have in victory. Maybe moreso.

It’s easy to be gracious in victory. But you and the team were gracious in defeat. You tried, and you lost. But you lost only a game.

National pride did not suffer a mortal wound.

Maybe Canada’s pride count dropped a point or so. But if humility is good for the individual, it must be for the nation.

Olympics are not meant to turn out only firsts.

They are meant to foster good will and respect for ability regardless of who may possess it. And credit to the victors does cast its reflection on the country that sponsors them.

Left to the athletes themselves, the Olympics would do just that. But sports writers and politicians are prone to see these international contests in the light of a Waterloo, Iwo Jima or Chrysler’s Farm. Instead of seeing Olympic standings as firsts and seconds in a foot race or a toboggan slide, they change them into measurements of national greatness or readiness to go to war . . . and win it.

Nonsense!

Red China didn’t win a thing. I don’t think they even had an entry at Innsbruck, but who wants to tangle with that giant outside a basketball court. Not even Russia, with-all the gold in its medal collection, would fancy war with China’s millions.

Olympic Games are a good thing, just as long as we remember that they are games. They are not contests to determine international greatness in all fields.

Gold medals should not be exaggerated. Running ability does not prove academic greatness, moral excellence or a cure for dandruff.

Victories are won by such small margins, counted in fractions of seconds, that they prove little other than that an individual or team reacted better at a particular time.

The difference between first and last might be a pre-game gulp of water, an undigested hot dog from the night before, or a sweaty hand.

The athletes themselves know this. The Olympic victories should remind us all of this.

I think you and your boys helped do that, Father Bauer. You showed us, too, what we had forgotten: There are often bigger victories in trying than in winning.

Your team’s loss was one of those victories in effort!

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