Dear Pan Am Games

MH3 —  July 20, 2015

Dear Pan Am Games – Toronto 2015;

We owe you an apology.

We spoke, not from experience, but from media fueled cynicism. We whined loudly about your costs, your traffic congestion, your endless construction. We whispered to eager listeners that you were not the Olympics. We predicted gleefully that nobody would care.

We suggested your participating athletes were second-rate and not world class. We said you were important enough for Winnipeg, but not close to being on the prestige level we demand in Toronto. We said the lack of visitors was proof of your irrelevance.

We smirked when your CEO was fired over an alleged 91¢ expense claim. We gasped when we heard you were ripping up the Queen’s Quay immediately after the event. We howled patriotic injustice when you announced Kayne would headline the closing ceremonies.

We didn’t know that Cirque would do an amazing job of the Opening Ceremonies.

We never imagined 20,000 rabid fans watching women’s rugby. Let alone that our Canadian team would annihilate the USA.

We can’t be held responsible for the fact that our co-workers would rave about the free concerts at Panamania.

We didn’t expect our friend’s son to be so inspired at the diving competition, that he is begging his parents to enroll him in lessons.

We had never heard of the international rules of baseball creating a Gold Medal moment atmosphere of a World Series.

We didn’t know Rosie MacLennan was the best trampolinist in the world and not willing to let anything stop her from proving it again.

We couldn’t anticipate the magic of the nightly medal ceremonies at Canada House.

We are surprised that research is showing how much businesses are benefiting.

We couldn’t imagine the beauty of the velodrome, the soccer stadium, or the world class pools.

We didn’t understand why 23,000 of our neighbours volunteered their time to help out.

We really can’t be blamed. We don’t get out much. We don’t actually exercise. We still watch cable TV. We almost always order delivery food. We do sometimes take the car three blocks to a drivethrough. We really like driving to the mall. We don’t watch sports. We never wander to the neighbourhood park to see kids play. We have never seen high performance athletes in person. We didn’t know that handball was so challenging. We don’t believe in events being a part of our city’s culture. We don’t believe in the power of sports. We have never volunteered. We have never coached. We have never referred. We have never cheered.

We really can’t be blamed. We weren’t told that the Pan Am Games would be so amazing. We always believe what we are told.

Sincerely,

The Skeptics of Greater Toronto

10 responses to Dear Pan Am Games

  1. Keep the momentum rolling and be wowed by the Parapan Am games. Come on down and be amazed.

  2. Well as a VOLUNTEER my wife and i did believe in the PAN-AM GAMES and the PARA PAM AM GAMES,all the negativity was all Press trying to sell papers and turn Toronto citizens against the game and not to get involved, well 60,000 young and old want to be a part of this great moment although 23,000 lucky ones did see history in the making. I for one enjoyed every moment of the journey that started a year before the game began. My wife and i were one of the lucky ones to be in the lineup at the Ticket launch back in early spring,then we were at one of the sponsors GM car lots in Burlington for the day, also a few other functions which if i may say were all paid for out of my pocket, you see we live in Orillia On. and for us to travel back and forth to Toronto and else were did not bother me as i enjoyed every moment. I am very glad the games are a success and showed all the world that yes Toronto and the rest of Ontario can host the games of this magnitude and come out smiling so for all the skeptics out there i hope you enjoy eating” CROW “

  3. Patricia Farrell July 29, 2015 at 1:31 am

    I watched the games nightly..and was in awe..It was wonderful so see so many people from all over the world competing…in Toronto one of the lovliest cities in the world..Thank you Canada! So much fun!!! 🙂

  4. The Pan Am games sucked and the massive inconveniences I endured for years to get the roads ready for the increased traffic was not worth it.

  5. I live in Welland, volunteered in St. Catharines, part of Accreditation, had meetings, training plus 4 shifts in Toronto. I worked what I consider “behind the scenes ” but know I attributed to this wonderful event. It was my one and only time to do so, I am 67. The highlight of my time was when Canada’s men’s rowing teams were returning to the start docks after the medal ceremonies and press at the grandstand, many volunteers went to take pictures and applaud them. Instead this wonderful group applauded us, the volunteers, and insisted we join THEM in pictures. My heart was exploding with pride that this young gentlemen thought enough of volunteers to do that – they appreciated the time and work we put in.

  6. Kadi Kaljuste July 29, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Well said! I volunteered and so glad I did. #panamazing

  7. Mr.Harrison, I was a student at Humber College in Sport Management and you came a did a presentation. After that i was invited to lunch with you. I was was fortunate enough to gain insight from you and from there I went on to intern with TO2015 and work the Pan Am Games, gearing up for the Parapans now. I’m glad you can admit how unfairly we were perceived. The games were a success (which we always knew they would be). Never let the uneducated media formulate your own opinion. Glad we were able to put on a historic/successful event for this beautiful city.

  8. Well said Mark!

    I am proud of the fact that you stepped up and wrote this letter. As a volunteer and supporter of the games I was often embarrassed by the outpouring of negativity that has occurred over the past few years. Lest we forget that the games were more about creating legacy infrastructure that will further the cause of Canadian amateur sport then ensuring trouble-free commutes and filling shops and hotels. Rarely has there been mention of the positive impact of the TO2015 Games or the lasting impression that the success of our athletes will have on our children as they run, jump and play their way to healthy and active lives!

    Cheers to all who attended, supported, volunteered, jeered and then applauded!