I’ll be honest; I don’t watch the Olympics like I did when I was younger. Both the Summer and Winter Games were a big deal to me and while some events still are, the idea of the Olympics I grew up with essentially gone.
I can still tell you exactly where I was when the United States defeated Russia in “The Miracle on Ice” in 1980. I was in the living room and my cousin who lived next door had the game on. We had no idea it had been played hours earlier because there was no 24-7 news cycle and there weren’t any smart phones and there wasn’t social media.
We believed we were watching the game live and I miss that. I can tell you where I was when Kerri Strug limped to her victorious vault in the 1996 Summer Games too. I was with my new girlfriend who would become my wife two years later. I remember the moment and the anxiety and enthusiasm as if it was just moments ago and I was watching it live!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful we can now watch the Olympics on any number of channels. This gives us way more in terms of choice and in terms of what events we really want to watch.
I enjoy the Winter Olympic Games more than the Summer Games because many of these sports are ones we rarely see. I can see pro basketball players anytime but the bobsled and the luge and downhill? Not so much.
Overall, I’ve fallen out love with the Olympic Games because of several reasons including the ones I’ve laid out above but there are other reasons as well. One thing that drives me nuts and I realize I’m in the minority here are the ‘special features’ done on athletes at the games. I want to see events and competition not how yet another athlete overcame something to get here.
It’s almost always the same story time and again. Put all of these special segments on one particular network and let people go to the station should they want to see these stories. As I said, I want to see competition.
I also hate the fact that professionals are now allowed in the Olympics and I realize we have our former communist friends to think for this. Remember when we used to send our finest collegiate basketball players to the Summer Games and our finest college hockey players to the Winter Olympics? As it turned out, the Russians and the rest of the Communist Bloc were sending professionals. This was exactly why the Miracle on Ice was so amazing. Young college kids who hardly played together defeating a machine comprised of the top players in Russia.
Those days are gone. It changed in basketball because we Americans were embarrassed by poor showings in the Olympics by our college players and that couldn’t happen anymore. It was time bring in the pros and reclaim our rightful place as the best basketball country in the world!
The Winter Games in Sochi have to this point been more about light bulbs, bad tap water and spying than about the games and that turns me off too. I hope the athletes become the stories as the events roll on.
Special segments, professionals in the games, and taped events have driven me away from the Olympic Games and that really does suck. I understand the concept of evolution and progression but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’ll always love the Olympics but….