It has been quite the year for sports with the Winter Olympics, World Cup 2014, and now the Commonwealth Games.
I know there has been a lot of controversy about the Games. Questions like is it time that Canada stops participating since we’ve strengthened our presence in the Olympics? Then, just like the Olympics, there are always questions of how venues are going to turn out and what athletes are coming and who is testing positive for banned substances. In Glasgow specifically, there are issues like ticket printing and traveling as well, not to mention any political undercurrents that exist. You don’t see athletes focused on these issues though; for them, the Games are all about competing.
The Commonwealth Games is a big event with a longstanding history. Although there are 53 members of the Commonwealth of Nations, 71 teams participate in the Commonwealth Games, as a number of dependent territories compete under their own flag. The four Home Nations of the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—also send separate teams. Only six teams have attended every time: Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales. The competition is fierce and results do matter.
One of the more interesting characteristics of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow has been the incorporation of able-bodied and Para-Sports events in the same program. Considering that able-bodied and para-sports events usually happen back-to-back instead of simultaneously, it must be great for all the athletes to get a different perspective and enjoy more of the events. Also, for spectators, the opportunity exists to enjoy a wider variety of events.
I love how the history of the Commonwealth Games shows us how far we’ve come as a society. In 1928, Canada’s Melville Marks Robinson was asked to organize the first British Empire Games. These Games were held in 1930, in Hamilton, Ontario, and women competed in the swimming events only. The idea of that now is just shocking.
I can only imagine that John Astley Cooper who first suggested a Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival be held every four years in 1891 as a means of increasing goodwill and understanding of the British Empire would be thrilled to see what the Games have grown and evolved to be.