Part Motto, Part Status Symbol: Pin Trading Becomes No. 2 Sport for People at Canada Summer Games

Now that her hammer throwing competition is behind her at the 2022 Canada Summer Games, Chanell Botsis is ready to turn to her second sport: pin trading.

The BC athlete – who broke the Games women’s hammer throw record this week with a throw of 61.44 meters – appears to apply a similar dedication to the more specialized activity of collecting souvenir pins produced by each province, some of the sports associations and some sponsors at the Niagara Region event.

“I had a slow start [this year] but I’m definitely planning on getting into it now that I’m done competing,” said Botsis, who was hanging out in the pin trading tent at Canada Games Park in St. Catharines, Ont., on Wednesday. , showing a backpack and lanyard loaded with pins from the Niagara Games and several past competitions. “They have unique designs, so you really want to find some unique pins and maybe get one from each province. “

It’s hard to talk to anyone at the Games who isn’t mildly obsessed with trading pins, a longstanding tradition at sporting events. According to the Olympic organization, it started at the Athens Games in 1896 where delegations wore cardboard pins to identify athletes, judges and officials. At the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, a local company produced 18 million pins for Olympic committees in various countries, which often use them as fundraisers.

Chanell Botsis, left, shows off her pins with other athletes in the designated pin trading tent at the Canada Summer Games in St. Catharines, Ont. Wednesday, August 17, 2022. (Saira Peesker/CBC)

Botsis says each province typically gives its athletes a certain number of pins to trade, and they can also be purchased at the pin tent and sometimes found at sponsor booths. Their rarity and the social acumen required to build a large collection means that the decorative badges clustered on participants’ lanyards are both a currency and a symbol of social status.

“You have to try to find athletes, meet them, kind of say ‘hello’ and maybe socialize,” Botsis said, in between conversations with other athletes who had stopped outside the crowded tent to chat. Marvel at her collection, which she’d laid out on a table for everyone to see. “It’s a great way to make friends, meet people and learn where they’re from…I really want to go see scuba diving because I’ve never seen it in person. Same with diving. can’t wait to go watch and maybe trade some pins.”

On the track, where classic Canadian songs such as the Barenaked Ladies’ “Enid” and Snow’s anti-snitching hit “Informer” blasted over the speakers, players whose trade was evident on their lanyards came and went – many casually crossing paths with a young athlete who had clearly had a rough run and was throwing up in a Green For Life bin.

“It’s part of the sport,” said one adult, comfortingly, his significantly less ornate lanyard.

A woman in a blue track jacket stands next to a track with a scoreboard in the background.  She smiles.
Track and field coach Heather Beaton says she saw someone offer to trade her jacket for a Team Nova Scotia pin. (Saira Peesker/CBC)

Nunavut pins are in high demand

The hype about the social aspect of the Games – including for the pin business – tends to fade as you get older, athletics coach Heather Beaton, 27, says in her sterile lanyard. It was the Nova Scotian’s first time at the Games in a coaching role, having competed in his previous two incarnations. Now she guides young athletes through the 400m, 800m, 400m hurdles and 400m relay events, saying that – for them – the social aspects can help ease the pressure that such a big event can present.

“If you mingle with people who are in the same [events], it takes away some of the stress. You say to yourself, “I know this person. I don’t feel as intimidated,” she told CBC. “Pin trading is a really big thing. I heard about the Nova Scotia pins, some people want to pay for them. “I’ll give you $80 for the pin. ” It’s crazy. People offer jacket for pins. It’s so funny.”

A man stands in front of bleachers smiling.  The shoulder strap of her bag is adorned with numerous pins.
Event spokesperson Christopher Seguin displays his pin collection at Canada Games Park in St. Catharines, Ontario. Wednesday, August 17, 2022. (Saira Peesker/CBC)
Christopher Séguin, spokesperson for the Games, had clearly made his share of agreements, with a lanyard so full of pins that it became almost suspicious. Volunteer Suki Manick, from St. Catharines, also sported a few pins, saying she had just learned the tradition that day but was working quickly to catch up.

For Botsis, the owner of the best pin collection this reporter saw on Wednesday, success will hinge on her execution of a late-Games trading strategy that she says can work wonders – capitalizing on scarcity. pins that develops at the end of the event.

A woman smiles and holds up her volunteer pass.  The strap attached to it has pins on it.
Volunteer Suki Manick of St. Catharines had just started trading pins at the Canada Summer Games in St. Catharines, Ontario. Wednesday, August 17, 2022. (Saira Peesker/CBC)

“You can wait until the end of the Games, when everyone is looking for those really special pins… Some pins are in high demand and people might trade two for one. You can bargain a bit more,” he said. she declared.

She noted that this year, Nunavut pins are a hot commodity because it’s a small team, so it’s been harder to find athletes to trade with. Botsis also lamented that she’s already redeemed all of her B.C. pins, which she says are generally a little fancier than merchandise from other provinces and still highly sought after.

“It was so free for everyone [at the beginning]. There’s a lot more bowling to do next.”

James V. Hayes