It’s hard to know whether to read into the departure of Own the Podium head Alex Baumann, who resigned this week to take a similar position in New Zealand. There are family issues that were mentioned and appear to be real. One of Canada’s greatest swimmers amazingly enough no longer has roots in this country, having spent two decades prior to 2005 as a sporting administrator in Australia and raised a family there.
There are those who have had issues with Own The Podium, which is a topic onto itself. What Baumann brought however was an uncompromising understanding of the realities of high-performance sport. There was something very Un-Canadian about the entire OTP enterprise and it certainly rubbed some in this country the wrong way, which is ironic considering at this stage in his life Baumann is probably more Australian in his thinking than he is Canadian.
A much more elaborate process similar to OTP was exactly what happened in Australia in the late 80s/early 90s and led to rise of the Australian sporting machine a decade later. It rubbed some people the wrong way there too initially because it tiered sports according to a criteria of competitiveness and tradition, but such targeted approach of resources was seen through to its successful conclusion. It will be interesting to see if that occurs in this country. The odds are against it if history is any indication.
"There is no such thing as equity in sports," Baumann has said before.
Alex Baumann is a man that gets things done. He did more for this country in five years than all of the various government position papers, communiqués, symposiums, and other bureaucratic puffery accomplished in a quarter of a century. He will be missed.