Technology finds its way into the 2011 Canada Games
by Whitney Cant – Feb. 1, 2011
In these days of “c u l8er” and “lol,” companies and organizations headed by older generations are recognizing the need to connect with a younger demographic through social media. The Halifax 2011 Canada Winter Games were the first time the Games organization chose to use a team of social media volunteers who helped the Games tap into this new demographic. As a privileged member of the self-proclaimed Blog Squad, I was one of the volunteers who repeatedly got the message of the Canada Games out to those who wanted to experience these memorable events through social media.
Only one network won the rights to broadcast the 2011 Canada Games: TSN2, which is not widely available in Canada, especially not in the Atlantic Provinces. This sparked a lot of criticism from those wishing to watch the Games on TV, but created a popular niche for live web streaming and up-to-the-minute social media commentary by volunteers such as myself, and made us near-constant news items. By constantly tweeting immediate scores, photographing and recording anything remarkable at the events, and blogging about our experience, we were an integral part in making the games as accessible as possible to those who didn’t attend the events themselves.
I went to a lot of events, not all of which were the most exciting, but everywhere I went, I took almost every piece of technology I own to make sure I could translate my experience to those watching my social media radar. Despite my low number of Twitter followers, it was easy for patrons to find minute-by-minute stats about the Games based on their hashtags, such as #2011figure for figure skating. But we weren’t just tweeting scores; the crowds were a huge part of the Canada Games experience and they provided constant optimism, vigor, and collective team spirit, cheering for all the athletes from all the provinces.
Whenever I’m part of a volunteer team I always feel this pride-infused camaraderie, but being a part of the Blog Squad was more than that. I felt like I had a place in the world that was being watched by people all over Canada, and they experienced the 2011 Canada Games through me. That kind of pressure really makes you thankful for spell-check. But volunteering is not without its perks, especially a position as hip and novel as the Blog Squad. My favourite moment of volunteering at the Games (apart from watching the crowds) was meeting Joel Plaskett, my fellow high school alma mater, whose success shows me that “it’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re going.”
I will never forget volunteering for the Blog Squad because I experienced so many diverse events from archery, to curling, to the Joel Plaskett Emergency concert and I got to tell the world about them in my own words. There were late nights and early mornings travelling to events, and sore thumbs from tweeting, but how many people can say they became a part of history over their Reading Week?