All my talk about my lack of interest in the Olympics got me to wondering why. There was a time when I couldn’t wait for the Olympics. Eric Heiden, the Miracle on Ice, Edwin Moses, Sally Decker, Daley Thompson, Mary Lou Retton – these athletes and the Olympic stories they helped to author enthralled me … I couldn’t get enough of them.
But now, I could care less about Michelle Kwam’s quest for a gold medal being thwarted, or the diva-like qualities that Johnny Weir displays, or that the U.S. can only seem to get medals in snow-boarding events. Why is this? These are probably events that I might normally be interested in? I did some thinking and came up with a handful of reasons why this may be.
1. There is no longer a U.S.S.R. I think this may be the grand-daddy of all reasons why I have lost my “Olympic Mojo.” Back in the day, there was one super-villain to our country’s Superman – and that was “the hammer and the sickle.” These two countries threatened boycotts on each other every four years, and the tension was so tight that you could cut it with a chainsaw. By the way, tension sells. When the overachieving U.S. hockey team surprised the world by knocking off the unbeatable Soviets in ice hockey, a nation stood together with enormous pride. Even people who couldn’t stand hockey watched in anticipation. Of course, when the Soviets beat the undefeated Americans in basketball in the early 1970’s the same happened the other way. Stories were created that not even the most creative writers could conjure. When the veil of Communism was lifted, so was this all-important aspect.
2. Instead of having the Olympics (both summer and winter) every 4 years, now they have split them, so in a sense, they are every two years. It is not as big of a deal anymore. In fact, one can easily get sick of the overabundance of advertisements and commercials, and since it is done every two years, one becomes numb to the Olympics.
3. Professional Athletes are now competing. I think some of the innocence was lost when they allowed this. Would some of the luster have been lost if the 1980 U.S. hockey team that won the gold consisted of professional athletes? I think so. Additionally, (at least with the U.S. basketball team) we have a collection of overpaid egomaniacs representing our country – I’m not saying that this isn’t a fair representation, but I don’t want to see these jerks playing for my country (although, I get a strange feeling of delight watching the team lose – is this wrong?).
4. Cable T.V. and the Internet. We can easily find the scores and highlights of games that have already taken place simply by clicking the mouse a few times. Heck, if there was a major upset that involved a U.S. person or team, there is no way we could get through an entire day without hearing about it. So, when NBC replays highlights of this at night, the surprise and shock value is lost. I will use the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team as a reference to this again. In 1980, when they beat the Soviets, it happened a few hours before it was ever televised. The shock value was secure. Additionally, there are so many other things on T.V. that can easily take us away from a boring figure skating event, but that wasn’t the case “in the old days.”
These are the four I came up with. I am sure there are more – please share your thoughts.