Overlooked: Valentine’s Day Edition

These love stories should have been endgame, and we're still not over it

Overlooked: Valentine’s Day Edition

In a special edition of Overlooked, our contributors weigh in on love stories that go unrecognized. These are your wishful OTPs, the will-they-or-won’t-theys that never materialized, and the platonic friendships that don’t always inspire epic-length fan fiction.

She was looking for a mind at work. He was not throwing away his shot. Together, they would have been America’s first power couple, putting the likes of Brangelina and Kimye to shame. Alas, Alexander Hamilton and Angelica Schuyler were not meant to be.

Instead, founding father and rap master Hamilton would marry Angelica’s too-good-for-this-world sister Elizabeth Schuyler, who really deserved better than — spoilers — a cheating husband with a penchant for rhymes. And let’s not forget Angelica’s fate: a lifetime spent across the Atlantic with a man who couldn’t match wits with someone at her level. They were doomed to never be satisfied, but at least it made for a good musical.

— Josie Kao

It’s not uncommon to scroll through Tumblr and find posts celebrating Eleanor and Tahani as the ultimate couple on NBC’s The Good Place. I, for one, am all for it — an Arizona dirtbag paired with a sexy giraffe? Sign me up! But people overlook The Good Place’s OG pairing: Eleanor and Chidi.

Are we forgetting about how Chidi is literally trying to save Eleanor from eternal damnation by teaching her about ethics and moral philosophy? You would think that a shrimp-obsessed boner pill salesperson and a tortured academic who gets stomach aches from making decisions would be horrible for each other, but they are forking goals! Even when a demon tries to come between them over 802 times, they always find each other. I am #Cheleanor for life, and anyone who says otherwise can go to the Bad Place.

— Ilya Bañares

One of the most overlooked parts of love is platonic love, which is why I wanted to highlight the friendship between Troy Barnes and Abed Nadir from Community.

The two started off on a rough note in the pilot, but by the second episode their chemistry became unmatched, demonstrated by the duo’s impeccable timing in their notorious Spanish rap, “Donde Esta la Biblioteca?” Later in the series, the two host a fake morning show together, share a sacred handshake, and embark on adventures dressed as characters from their favourite in-universe show, Inspector Spacetime.

Friendships between two male characters are often seen on TV, but the closeness and warmth of Troy and Abed’s relationship are not. The show doesn’t feel the need to declare their friendship is strictly platonic, opening a space for man-to-man relationships to be comfortably close without being dubbed effeminate.

— Winnie Wang

“I did fall in love with Katara. And I’ll probably always love her.” This is an actual quote from Dante Basco, who voiced Prince Zuko on the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. It speaks volumes that even Zuko’s official voice actor shipped his character with Katara — just as much as the fandom did.

Objectively, the pairing was poetic: she was a waterbender, he controlled fire. She rejected everything he stood for, he did all he could to change and be better. She burned with passion, he was drowning in ambition. Zuko and Katara were more than just a cute couple — they were Yin and Yang. Be it here or in the Spirit World, they should have been together.

— Sarim Irfan

In 2015, tvN released the third instalment of its Reply series, a Korean anthology drama with different seasons set in different years of the ’80s and ’90s. Much like How I Met Your MotherReply 1988 plays with the viewer’s expectation of who the main couple will be by shifting from the present to the ’80s in something of a wild goose chase.

At the centre of it all is Kim Jung Hwan, a grump with a heart of gold who loves Deok Sun, the fumbling heroine. The writers make us root for him time and time again, showing us just how much Jung Hwan loves Deok Sun before lifting the carpet from under us and having her end up with the sweet Go player from next door. At least the actors ended up dating in real life.

— Laura Seijas Figueredo

The love story of Vice-President Selina Meyer and her ‘bagman’ Gary Walsh takes place mostly in her office and inside the fictional American bureaucracy of Veep. Gary adores his megalomaniac boss, Selina, and his love for her knows no bounds; he constantly subjects himself to humiliation and ridicule for her. Yet for all the thankless sacrifices, there are moments where Selina is shown to truly love Gary — though in these moments, it’s also painfully clear that the two only have each other.

Their love story is unglamorous and often excruciating to watch. However, it is this truthful depiction of love, hilarious complications and all, that makes the duo the most enjoyable to watch on television.

— Hannah Turcotte

Despite being endgame in the Harry Potter books, Harry and Ginny are often underrated due to the films’ abysmal portrayal of both Ginny and their relationship. The books show a passionate, compatible pair. Ginny’s Quidditch skills rival Harry’s, and she is constantly making him laugh. When Harry gets upset, Ginny never cowers like Hermione, but she stands strong and talks sense into him. Harry calls her his best source of comfort and longs for her every night they’re apart. Their love is fearless, with an epic first kiss in the middle of a crowded common room. No one else matched Harry’s fire like Ginny.

— Linh Nguyen

EM Forster’s Maurice — written in 1914, published posthumously in 1971 and adapted to film in 1987 — is an intimate, frustratingly overlooked novel. Its writing reflects Forster’s own struggles with homosexuality against the oblique, confusing world of the British upper class.

Falling in love with his best friend, the titular Maurice wanders through life unsure of how to act. Forster approaches this relatable experience with compassionate understanding, like an incessant current flowing beneath the rigidity of classism. When Maurice finally finds love, Forster recognizes how brave an act this is and writes it beautifully. Comporable to Carol and Call Me By Your Name, Forster’s kind, defiant approach to love and class differences makes Maurice an essential read.

— Arjun Kaul

Overlooked is a recurring feature in the Arts & Culture section where writers make the case for pieces of culture that don’t get the attention they deserve. To contribute, email arts@thevarsity.ca.

“Not into Asians”

Reflecting on prejudice and the choice to be rejected or commodified

“Not into Asians”

It rained three days out of seven in Punta Cana during the week of December 21, 2016. Light rain, just on and off, so it wasn’t really uncomfortable. But it was rain nonetheless, which meant I spent a lot of time inside or on the balcony under umbrellas, alone.

Listening to music. Going on Grindr. I had re-downloaded the app before my family left for vacation, and I kept noticing a certain profile nearby. It was blank, of course. No photo, no nothing, just his height — 6’3” — and a brief bio that said “Russian Model.”

He was probably lying, but I wanted to believe that he was telling the truth, because there weren’t many guys around. He seemed somewhat less sketchy than the rest. I decided to message him.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

Three minutes later, his response.

“Not into Asians”

I was huddled under a small archway by one of the resort’s pools, waiting for the rain to pass, when I got this text. Three short words, no period. Hastily typed, probably. Written without a second thought, definitely.

In my head, I could almost picture him responding, sunglasses on, lying on the beach, the sun turning his skin darker against that blue sky. He was one kilometre away, and yet the distance felt much greater.

I wondered for a while if I should say something. I wanted to be composed, wanted to compose, but the words didn’t come. There was a thin boundary between me and what needed to be said, a boundary I didn’t know how to cross — because I felt guilty. What should I have been more ashamed of? My skin colour or my reaction?

In 2012, I would have told you the answer was my skin colour. I was living in Calgary at the time, and I had been there for two years, training at the School of Alberta Ballet. That was the year when I started to bleach my skin. I dissolved tomatoes in milk overnight, coating myself in the mixture and sleeping in it. I rubbed lemons on my face and body. I used a papaya-based whitening soap that I had bought online from the Philippines for $24 plus shipping. Every night, like clockwork, in the dimly lit bathroom of my Mt. Royal dorm.

My roommates knew, of course. Naturally, they were worried. But I did it because I was hard-headed, because I was motivated. Motivated to look whiter. I had an agent for commercials and film, and whenever she’d send me on a call, the role in question had to be ‘open ethnicity.’

I was too chinky to audition for ‘white’ roles and too white to audition for ‘Asian’ roles. But I also performed these whitening rituals because I thought it would make people think I was prettier.

So many of the celebrities I admired growing up were white, and so many of the celebrities that are popular now are white. My roommate was white too, and everyone thought he was pretty. Looking at him was like drinking a tall, cool glass of water. It was easy, in my mind, to associate whiteness with prettiness. I wanted people to look at me the way they looked at him.

At the end of June, I graduated and moved back to Ontario. I felt like shit the whole journey back, because I realized I had to stop. I couldn’t let my parents find out. It would break their hearts — my mom’s especially. She’d think I was ashamed of her, but I wasn’t ashamed. I wanted change, which was different. Or at least that’s what I told myself.

So I stayed inside and avoided the sun. When I did go outside, it would only be after applying SPF 60. “To be safe,” I told people.

Looking back, I realize how stupid it all was. Skin is skin. And perhaps I had known this even then. But I’d done it anyway, because I was anxious; I felt and still feel different.

I think this is why the Grindr guy’s message bothered me so much. In three words, he had said aloud what so many people do, silently, when I send a ‘Hello,’ only to get no message in reply. ‘Not my type.’ But why?

There is no one answer. Types are preferences: they are personal, and everyone has one. This is fact. Types can be based on physical impressions, looks and smells, though sometimes they have sentimental significance, like, ‘you listen fully and with your eyes, and I like the way that makes me feel.’

I know that this is what matters nowadays, though perhaps it has always mattered this much. How we date has evolved — we have apps for it now. When you swipe through Tinder or scroll through Grindr, you make an immediate choice to interact with someone based on how they appear to you. Do you like the colour of their eyes? Do you like the cut of their hair? And what’s less talked about, but just as prevalent: do you like the colour of their skin?

I can’t speak for ethno-prejudicial trends in the heterosexual dating sphere. I can, however, speak with experience about the gay dating sphere, which is markedly Eurocentric. Gay men like white boys.

There’s this essay by Michael Hobbes, “The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness,” which devotes a few paragraphs to this topic. Hobbes describes the “trauma of the closet,” loosely defined as a malaise or feeling of shame that queer persons inherit and bring with them into adulthood, because difference and alienation go hand in hand.

At one point, Hobbes speaks to a researcher of sexual trauma named William Elder, who, in 2015, alongside Susan Morrow and Gary Brooks, published a series of interviews in The Counseling Psychologist that detail sexual schemas common to homosexual men.

The conclusions: 90 per cent of the surveyed participants said they were exclusively attracted to partners that were “straight-acting.” Eighty-five per cent said that they were primarily attracted to white men. Those interviewed also said that most gay men find similar features to be attractive, like being tall, muscular, and white. In short, for me and the multitudes of gay men who barely meet one of these criteria, let alone five, Grindr and the gay dating world reify our deepest insecurities and prime us to expect rejection.

We are made to feel like we are not enough because we do not fit the type, just like the auditions to which my agent sent me: too short, too scrawny, too ethnic, and perhaps too gay. ‘You’re not what the role called for — we wanted someone more like him.’

In some cases, however, we experience the converse: fetishization. Just as harmful, but not as discussed. To fetishize is to view a person as the fulfilment of some wish. It is a process of consumption, of fucking the Other as a means of livening up the dull dish of mainstream white culture.

There’s a dichotomy, then: ‘Not into Asians’ versus ‘Super into Asians,’ ‘Asians +++++,’ ‘Asians >.’ It’s better than rejection, I’ve been told. Perhaps. Yes, fetishization equates to attention, but only a very specific kind — attention as objectification.

The last guy I went out with treated me like a fantasy. He was in costumes, incidentally, for film and television, and he called me cute all the time. I thought it was endearing at first, until I realized I was cute to him because he thought I was submissive. His exes were submissive, he said, and they had been Asian too.

‘Well, that doesn’t mean I’m submissive, too,’ I thought. Yet what I said was, “That’s nice.”

I gave a weak smile before seeing myself out. I thought that he was attracted to me for me, but in reality he was attracted to me as something that would fulfil his yellow-coloured fantasy.

So we’re left with a choice: rejection or commodification. Neither sounds like love to me.

It might seem like this lacks a point or has no answers, but the point is the writing itself — this is what I should have written one year ago on that rainy day in the Dominican. Not to explain desire but to elucidate some of its effects on me and other people like me.

Three weeks ago, I went out for drinks with a new friend. I’d known him peripherally before we crossed the line, dividing online friends from flesh-and-blood friends. We were sitting in a small booth at the back of a bar in Ossington when I mentioned I was writing an article.

He asked me what it was about, and I told him because I knew he would understand, and he did. He nodded and listened as if this was all old news. For a moment, in the half light, as I stared at him from across the table, I saw that he looked like someone I knew, someone like me.

When I finished, he asked me, “What do you think we can do about it?” I took a moment before answering. “I think all we can do is write it down, start a conversation,
and open up some minds,” I said. “Even one will suffice.”

We both nodded. The response felt insufficient, like there had to be more lurking out of view, but we both knew there wasn’t anything else to say. To speak was within our power. For others to listen was out of our hands.

A single’s guide to Valentine’s Day

Let's be honest: it's just another Wednesday

A single’s guide to Valentine’s Day

A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine was complaining to me about her boyfriend — the apparent favourite pastime of all my friends in relationships. She said something that didn’t quite make sense to me: even though she wanted to break up with him, she wouldn’t do it until after Valentine’s Day, so that she could avoid being single on the most romantic day of the year.

Here’s the thing. I don’t really understand what is so romantic about Valentine’s Day, and I especially don’t get why it must serve as the occasion for couples to write sappy Instagram captions about each other or go to crowded restaurants together to somehow prove to the world that they’re not alone, as though being alone on Valentine’s Day is something to be ashamed of.

I’ve experienced Valentine’s Day both while in a relationship and while single, and I must say that I highly prefer the latter. There is no pressure to try to somehow capture the essence of your love for someone in one day or one gift.

Let’s be real, February 14 is right in middle of the chaos that is midterm season. I’m barely able to find time to sleep between writing five term papers and studying for midterms, let alone find the time to spend with a boyfriend and buy him a gift with the money I don’t have when what I really need to be doing is studying.

I know you might be thinking that these are just the excuses of a girl who’s salty about being alone on Valentine’s Day. I can assure you, it’s not that. I am in a long-term, committed relationship — it just happens to be with school.

What’s great about this relationship, though it can be challenging, is that when it’s over, I won’t be left crying my sorrows away into a tub of ice cream while watching the ending of Call Me By Your Name. I will instead be a more intelligent and hopefully wiser person — can that really be said about a relationship you’re only in for cuffing season?

I promise that I’m not just being bitter. But I will confess that I find it unsettling that there’s one day per year when couples are expected to make grand gestures of love, and single people are supposed to simply sulk at their single status.

I don’t think of Valentine’s Day as a reminder that I’m ‘forever alone,’ as some might. Just because I happen to be single this February 14 doesn’t mean I feel more single than I would on any other day.

I live for myself, and I am exploring all facets of who I am and what I want — and I think there is no better time to be single than when you’re in your 20s at university. There’s no other time in your life when the main expectation of you is that you learn — not only in your classes but also about yourself. And what better way to do that than to spend some time alone?

Alternative ways to spend Valentine’s Day that don’t involve watching The Notebook:

  1. Study, because you probably should. What’s better than a quiet, romantic night at Robarts? I promise that your GPA will thank you for it.
  2. Ask a single bestie to be your Valentine and take corny couple pictures together. See how many strangers you can fool into thinking you’re dating.
  3. Get excited for discount chocolate. My favourite part about Valentine’s Day has always been the day after Valentine’s Day.
  4. Or do nothing. Because in all honesty, it’s just another Wednesday.

The best date spots on campus, according to r/uoft

Does dating at U of T even exist?

The best date spots on campus, according to r/uoft

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and out of concern for my fellow students, I wanted to share some valuable knowledge. I decided to turn to that paragon of expertise, the U of T subreddit, to see what other students were deeming as our campus’ most romantic venues.

“Hoping you guys can tell me of some interesting date ideas and places to take a girl around campus,” posted one account about three months ago. They received a number of suggestions, ranging from restaurants and bars to activities and romantic locations on campus itself.

Some restaurants in the area mentioned by r/uoft included Thai Basil, Famoso’s, El Trompo, and Fresh. Activity-based venues were also suggested, like board game cafés such as Snakes & Lattes or Tilt, the arcade-themed bar on Brunswick Avenue. Users also mentioned that students have free admission to the Royal Ontario Museum on Tuesdays and to the Art Gallery of Ontario on Wednesdays from 6:00–9:00 pm.

Those willing to brave the cold might want to check out Philosopher’s Walk or U of T’s various quads, including those at University College, Trinity College, or Knox College. For those willing to travel a little further from campus, there were several areas mentioned as worthy of exploration on a date, like Kensington Market or the Distillery District.

Other students had more cynical responses to this query. “There is no dating at U of T, there is only pain,” wrote one user.

“There’s a pretty titillating 137 lecture with Alfonso three times a week,” wrote another, likely referring to Professor Alfonso Gracia-Saz’s calculus lectures, which take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from either 9:00–10:00 or 10:00–11:00.

Other users were more concerned about venues where they would be able to screen their potential dates. In response to a year-old query from one user, someone suggested Future Bistro. “I have started a ton of downtown dates at Futures; it is an excellent way to ‘make sure they aren’t a serial killer’ place.”

When they posted on r/uoft eight months ago, one user hadn’t quite made it to the ‘in a relationship’ phase, stating that they were an engineering student and had observed that there seemed to be more female students in arts programs.

“Is the dating scene such that you go up to a girl and ask for their number and text for a bit, then go on a date?” they asked. “Is it more complicated and do you have to try harder when it comes to UofT girls?”

“It’s common knowledge that UofT girls are vastly different from other girls,” wrote another user. “I’ve heard there’s some molecular biology research going on… the general consensus among the scientific community is that girls that go to UofT may share a different common ancestor than other ‘normie’ girls and could possibly even be, dare I say, inhuman.”

There’s no shortage of locations around U of T to take your significant other. The hardest part will probably be finding the significant other. I shudder to think of the state of Tinder during midterm season — but readers, go forth and prosper. I’ll save the ‘where to have sex on campus’ posts for another article.

From the podium to the stage: Dancing with the Varsity Blues

Rower Esteban Poveda and dancer Emily Palios take first place

From the podium to the stage: Dancing with the Varsity Blues

On a stormy Wednesday night, an unusually tall crowd of students descended upon The Cat’s Eye pub at Victoria College. Most wore various shades of Varsity Blues paraphernalia, from bulky winter jackets to low-slung embroidered backpacks. They settled into small groups, talking about practices and midterms, and waited for the show to begin.

The Cat’s Eye was strung with dorm-room style fairy lights, with twin jets of blue light focused on a small stage at the front of the room. A lithe woman, the host for the evening, climbed up and fumbled with a microphone. Ingrid Lui smiled out at the audience and announced the beginning of the competition — the first ever “Dancing with the Toronto Varsity Blues.”

Based on the vaguely popular TV show Dancing with the Stars, U of T’s Only Human Dance Collective paired with eight varsity athletes to choreograph and perform mercifully short dances to raise money for Free The Children.

The judges were then led to their table. The first introduced was Rico Suico, a dance instructor at Dancelife X Centre and a dancer in Toronto’s K-pop cover group R.P.M dance crew. He was joined by brothers Mike and Kevin Scheitzbach of dance crew Imma Beast. The brothers are well known in the Canadian dance community, having danced with Avril Lavigne at the MMVAs and having participated in the World Hip Hop Championships. After they were introduced and settled off-stage, the show began.

Cheerleader Amanda Choi and dancer Steven Cheng kicked off the event with a bachata number. Choi clearly felt comfortable with the moves, and the pair worked well together.

Next, rower Terek Been and dancer Daniela Ruscica, in matching maroon outfits, performed a contemporary dance. The height difference was especially noticeable when Been picked Ruscica up with stunningly casual ease.

They were followed by Ishaan Kohli, a nordic skiier, and Berenice Alvarez. The two performed an upbeat hip hop routine to a variety of contemporary mixes, but they received relatively low scores from the judges.

The venue was packed, with spectators piling onto low benches and on one another’s laps to get a good vantage point. Everyone cheered loudly, while many laughed as they watched their teammates blush their way through their routines.

Some athletes were more comfortable than others on stage, but all performed their choreography faithfully, even through slightly panicked expressions. The judges, clearly aware of this, were quite generous. The lowest mark given out was a six, but the average score hovered around a seven.

Next up were men’s volleyball player Martin Kosic and dancer Elissa Morgan, who tip-toed with varying degrees of grace through a simple ballet routine. Kosic was clearly enjoying himself, and the audience appreciated his light-hearted approach to the show.

Moving briskly along, his teammate Alex Barnes performed a fun Bollywood routine with Ravneet Kaur. Kaur was excellent, and Barnes kept up gamely. They were followed by women’s volleyball player Anna Feore and Stella Pock, who displayed some impressive flexibility in their contemporary piece. After their performance, the host asked Feore if she’d found the routine difficult. Feore smiled ironically into the microphone. “Yeah,” she said, “I did the splits!”

Men’s rower Esteban Poveda and Emily Palios performed a Latin-inspired ballet routine. Heavy on the winking, Poveda won loud cheers from the audience, while Palios’ use of a fan was appreciated by the judges.

Finally, the show was rounded off by water polo’s Maddie Hertz and Helen Su, who worked through a superhero-inspired routine. The women both wore silver masks and were clearly influenced by Hertz’s martial arts background.

After all pairs had performed, the host announced a brief intermission to give the audience members time to vote. Each checked off their favourite pair and handed back their yellow voting cards. After intermission, the votes were tallied and the winners announced: Poveda and Palios’ Latin ballet. A clear crowd favourite, the two graciously accepted their victory.

The event raised $600 for Free the Children and provided some much-needed entertainment on a cold night in the middle of midterm season. Athletes likely learned that the dance is much harder than it looks, while dancers likely learned that not all athleticisms are created equal.

All in all, the event was a success, Blues teams showed up in droves to watch their teammates flipper around stage, athletes participated enthusiastically, and the audience members seemed to enjoy themselves.

How the use of performance enhancing drugs threatens the Olympics

Latest doping cases raise questions on anti-cheating methods

How the use of performance enhancing drugs threatens the Olympics

In the week leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the lifetime suspensions for doping charges of 28 Russian athletes. In a brief statement, the CAS explained that the bans could not be upheld because evidence did not support rule violations by the athletes, despite the allegations of state-sponsored doping that had shadowed Russia since 2014.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressed concern over the ruling by the CAS, and it quickly rejected the requests of 13 of the newly exonerated athletes to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The IOC argued that although the CAS had overturned 28 lifetime bans, 11 were still being upheld — which the IOC cited as proof that there existed “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system” within the Russian national team.

The use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) is not a new phenomenon in the world of competitive sports. For athletes, the pressure associated with competing at the elite level is surely daunting. Having dedicated years of their lives to a sport, the seemingly minute risk of being accused and subsequently charged with doping in exchange for grand titles and records has always proven too tempting for some athletes. Lance Armstrong, for instance, was revered for years as the world’s best professional cyclist before he was accused of illegal doping, stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, and banned from the sport.

At the elite level, accusations of doping and the ensuing media attention can make the use of PEDs appear prevalent, though it may be an unfair exaggeration to claim that doping is somehow inherent in sport culture at large. Nevertheless, with the investigations into allegations of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program, one question surges to the top: how is the issue of illegal doping resolved?

When doping occurs at the Olympics, the IOC will become involved. Following a flurry of allegations claiming that Russian athletes had violated the Olympics’ rules against doping during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the Schmid Commission was created to confront what the IOC called a “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia.” Although Russia has continually denied that there was ever any coordinated state effort to provide its athletes with PEDs, the Schmid Commission’s findings have detailed the opposite.

The commission recommended a broad framework of action to the IOC, suggesting that it implement strong measures to deter the continued advancement of a doping program, defend the rights of clean Russian athletes to compete, and evaluate the costs of the two IOC-mandated commissions. The Oswald Commission, separate from the Schmid Commission, was established to investigate the alleged doping violations committed by athletes who competed in Sochi. In accordance with the recommendations, the IOC voted to immediately suspend the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), issue the ROC a $15 million USD fine to compensate for the costs of the investigation, and allow for Russian athletes to compete in the Olympics as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia.”

The use of PEDs across competitive sports on other elite levels falls into the purview of independent organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), an institution established to ensure athletes comply with consistent anti-doping regulations during competitions. WADA’s claim to impartiality is not without scrutiny. In July 2016 — mere weeks before the start of the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro — WADA released the McLaren Report, which accused Russia of state-sanctioned doping.

The report forced the IOC to ban dozens of Russian athletes from competing based on a previous history with PEDs, while hundreds of others were barred from competition until an IOC panel could approve their cases. IOC President Thomas Bach blamed WADA for its unfortunate timing. In a subtle critique of WADA’s supposed impartiality, Bach also remarked that despite receiving information years ago, WADA did not choose to further investigate those matters.

The organizations responsible for enforcing anti-doping regulations do not seem to shy away from implementing wholesale participation bans, but these bans come at the cost of subjecting a large number of athletes to humiliating penalties usually intended to punish only a few.

A history of sport in France

Munk event highlights the country’s erratic relationship with sports

A history of sport in France

Sports in France have an erratic history. They were prominent and strong during the Middle Ages, but they faded from view later on as the French placed more emphasis on learning and intellect.

Professor John McClelland, who has a hand in four books on French literature and sport, went into detail about the variability of sport in France in Sport and the French: an erratic trajectory from Du Guesclin to Coubertin, an event hosted by the Munk School of Global Affairs on Friday.

McClelland began his talk by showing pictures of Collège National Technique et Moderne, a collegiate school he attended in 1956. He expected the school to have the same kind of athletic centres as schools in Toronto, where he intended to go originally. However, there was nothing of the sort.

A picture of a courtyard at the school, outlined by carefully pruned trees, displayed a barren courtyard that had “no possibility of any athletic facilities.” McClelland stated that people would play aimlessly through the courtyard during the two-hour lunch break, but there was “absolutely no organization of any kind.”

McClelland went into greater detail about the detached nature of France’s relationship with sport. He brought up Pierre de Coubertin, who is credited with the revival of the Olympics in Europe in 1896 after many others’ efforts had failed, and how Coubertin received very little acknowledgement for his achievement despite having attended the games himself.

From there, he dug deeper into the history of sport in France, specifically looking at the extent to which tennis captured the country in the Middle Ages. French monarchs such as François I and Henri II ensured that tennis courts were built within their palace, resulting in a trend throughout Europe to include tennis courts as a part of a standard palace design.

McClelland referenced a quote by English traveler Robert Dellington, who, writing about France in the 1600s, said that “there were more tennis courts than churches in France and more tennis players than beer drinkers in England.”

The avidness with which the French played tennis allowed for the sport to continue to flourish moving forward. Alongside tennis, fencing and equestrian sports also remained popular in France due to their upper-class status.

McClelland argued that the reason why few other sports were able to flourish in France is because the French liked precision. And sport was something that was not necessarily precise. In some instances it couldn’t even be judged. He mentioned that some books written by the French were done in an attempt to approach sport with more intellect, something that the French valued. In doing so, sports became very constricting, failing to encourage participation.

From a passive standpoint, the French were still interested in watching sports. McClelland artfully described seeing people pressing their faces up to the windows of the electronics store to watch soccer games on the TVs that few people had in 1956. However, it is important to note that while the Germans and the Spanish baptized the sport with its own name, Fußball and Fùtbol, the French never did. McClelland said that “sport of this kind somehow remains foreign, no matter what the enthusiasm is.”

Bittersweet final regular season home game for Blues women

Blues women’s hockey team falls to Gaels 3–1

Bittersweet final regular season home game for Blues women

The Toronto Varsity Blues women’s hockey team surrendered a close 3–1 match against the Queen’s Gaels on Friday night.

The last home game of the regular season marked grad night, a special occasion for graduating players Rebecca Bourgeois and Katey Teekasingh. Both players were honoured in a pre-game ceremony.

The Blues drew first blood as Breanna Berndsen found an open space in the slot and capitalized, scoring in the first period and giving Toronto a 1–0 lead. The Gaels still managed to create more opportunities on offense, leading 10–7 shots on goal after the first period. Blues goalie Madeline Albert finished the night with a save percentage of 0.905, stopping 19 of 21 shots.

Despite scoring on Gaels goalie Stephanie Pascal in the first period, the Blues failed to get the puck past her for the rest of the game. Pascal was sensational, saving an impressive 22 of 23 shots.

The second period turned sloppy for the Blues as they committed unfortunate penalties, providing the Gaels with the chance to take the lead. Blues player Stephanie Ayres was called for holding, which Queen’s capitalized on. The Gaels’ Katrina Manoukarakis, who is the Ontario University Athletics’ second leading scorer, immediately scored just six seconds into the power play, tying the game. Late in the second period, Manoukarakis found the back of the net again to give the Gaels their first lead.

Toronto failed to score in the final period despite having five more shots. Queen’s forward Jessica Wakefield scored an empty netter that went off of Blues defender Julia Szulewska, extending the lead to 3–1 and ending any hopes of a comeback.

“I loved every minute of it,” said Blues captain Rebecca Bourgeois when asked of her time as a Varsity Blue. “I’ve sat through a lot of these grad ceremonies and I’m so thankful that I had all my friends here for this one. I really enjoyed my five years here and everyone who has come through during that time.”

“We’re really just focusing on playing the full 60 minutes. Queen’s is a good team and I think we‘ve had a good run, but… we just need to focus on the little things and I think we’re well set-up for the future,” said Bourgeois.

With the loss, the Blues drop to a 13-8-2 record and fall to the fifth seed in a tight playoff race.

“I think definitely we want to make a run at it as far as we can. We’re aiming for that OUA banner… We’re going to go into it with pride and hopefully we’re going to play that way and come out successful,” said Bourgeois.

Toronto will finish their regular season on the road against the York Lions on February 16.