The Slovenia Times

1000 Slovenian vs 500,000 US Hockey Players


If anything, the Winter Olympics in South Korea demonstrated, once again, that sport is big business. Spectators at the venues were practically nonexistent, and the competition schedule was dictated by the advertising agenda of broadcasters targeting commercially attractive markets, predominately European audiences. With Europeans watching the Olympic Games from the warm comfort of their homes, the scenes of ski jumpers freezing in strong winds on the in-runs at midnight Korean time, cannot have benefitted the Olympic spirit. However, these are the questions to be answered by Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee and the other Olympic oligarchs.

Returning to the initial question. In Pyeongchang, Slovenians won two medals whereas four years ago in Sochi, Slovenians won four times as many. Normally, Slovenians rank among the top countries in medals per capita but at Pyeongchang we ranked far lower. Norway, by contrast, was in a category of its own. With a population of a little less than five million, the Nordic country won a staggering 39 medals. Its absolute dominance over other countries is a unique phenomenon that cannot be explained solely by the fact that Norway is an enormously wealthy country.

If sport is really all about money, then the Slovenian hockey players should never have made it to the Olympic tournament in South Korea. Following their victory over the US hockey team, many global media outlets reported on the astonishing results, which only increased the spotlight on the Slovenian athletes. Slovenia has fewer than 5,000 registered hockey players, including young competitors, five covered hockey rinks and - excuse the cynicism - less than two hockey clubs, which constantly struggle to make ends meet. The USA, in contrast, has more than 500,000 registered players! After having beaten the US team, the outnumbered but highly motivated Slovenian athletes also defeated Slovakia, where hockey is basically the number one sport. Though they had been leading for most of the game, the Slovenian team was ultimately defeated by Norway in the sudden-death round.

As a Slovene, I am of course biased, but you have to admit that this is nothing short of phenomenal. Almost as phenomenal as biathlete Jakov Fak winning the silver medal after having lost two seasons due to injury; or snowboarder Žan Košir's dramatic return and bronze medal after he injured his spine and everyone thought his competing days were over.




To answer the initial question - I believe there is no dilemma whatsoever. In Pyeongchang, Slovenian athletes once again outdid themselves. And they made good business! Interpret that however you like!


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