Dopey comments aside, Chan deserves Marsh award

Patrick Chan waits for his score after skating his short program at the Skate Canada International...

Patrick Chan waits for his score after skating his short program at the Skate Canada International in Mississauga, Ont., Oct. 28, 2011. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:17 AM ET

TORONTO - About 25 years ago, I flew over to the British Isles for the first time and developed a new appreciation for my roots.

Before the trip, I kind of felt down about my lot in life — you know, the whole short, balding, pasty skin, bad teeth, beer-gut thing.

But after visiting old Blighty, I felt rejuvenated and accepted.

It’s like that famous book about soccer hooliganism by Bill Buford — Among the Thugs. My buddies swear it’s me on the cover. It’s not. But it very well could be me, or 90% of the geezers in England. (A slight exaggeration). I never felt more at home.

The point is this: I understood where Patrick Chan was coming from when he said — following a trip to China, his parent’s homeland some months back — that he never felt more Chinese.

Unfortunately, the Ottawa born, Toronto-raised figure skater took his new-found appreciation for China to another level when he launched into his now infamous whine about how he doesn’t feel appreciated in Canada and that if his parents hadn’t emigrated and he had skated for China, “things would have been very different.”

“My parents wouldn’t have had to make (the) sacrifices they have and there would be a lot more respect for what we do as figure skaters,” he said.

Chan also went on about a lack of recognition for figure skaters in Canada because of our obsession with hockey. (Which is true. Say the words “Maple Leafs” to any basketball writer and watch his head explode).

Still, pretty shocking stuff from a guy who had already landed some pretty lucrative sponsorship deals before he really won anything, which is more than most Canadian athletes at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics could say.

Furthermore, the last time I checked, not every family in China has the means to put their kids in figure skating without making some sacrifices. In fact, I would suggest that there are tens of millions of peasant farmers in China who not only can’t afford to put their kids in figure skating, they don’t know what figure skating is. As for being able to vent freely to the media, that’s another story.

However, the Lou Marsh Trophy, which will be presented on Tuesday to Canada’s top athlete, is based on athletic performance, not nationalism or public speaking. And under that criteria, Chan should win.

I look at it this way. Chan captured a world title with a world record performance, and it doesn’t get any bigger than that.

Some other athletes considered for this year’s award had wonderful seasons but, in my mind, as a guy who has covered amateur and professional sports extensively (and is not biased towards one group or the other), Chan is the best of the bunch. Other 2011 world champions include long track speed skater Christine Nesbitt and alpine skier Erik Guay. But the way Chan rose to the occasion, setting world records in both the long and short programs, was truly magnificent.

As for the pro contenders, baseball players Joey Votto (40 HR, .309 BA, 103 RBI) and John Axford (46 saves, 1.95 ERA), hockey’s Corey Perry (50 goals, Hart Trophy), and equestrian Eric Lamaze, they’re all worthy of consideration. But, to me, unless you win an MVP Award in one of the major pro sports, you don’t win the Marsh — if there are amateur athletes who have won a world championship that season.

And, to me, Perry's Hart Trophy doesn't match Chan's world records and world championship.

And please, don’t talk to me about shot putter Dylan Armstrong. Yes, he’s ranked No.1 in the world, but you can’t give Canada’s top athlete award to a guy who finished second at a world championship. Same for soccer player Christine Sinclair. Great season, but led a team that went 0-3 record at the World Cup, though she played great.

Given the fact that Chan’s only 21 years old, I really hope the brainiacs who vote on the Marsh don’t hold his dopey comments against him.

Hey, we all say crazy things when we’re 21. When I was 21, I said “I do.” And look at me now. I don’t have a pot to pee in. (Fortunately, I have a toilet).

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

twitter @beezersun


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