The Underwhelming Winter Olympics (so far)

I hate sounding negative so please excuse my whining but after the first several days of the Sochi Winter Olympics I am not impressed. By no means though am I blaming my lack of inspiration on the host city, the athletes, the stray dogs, or NBC. Rather I take full responsibility for not doing everything I personally can to make the 2014 Winter Olympics more enjoyable for myself. In the same way that millions of people love “The Walking Dead” and I am indifferent to it, the same can be said for these games.

Although I enjoyed the opening ceremony my attention has since waned. Probably going against me the most is that I am not a winter sports enthusiast. But even with my ho-hum attitude about sports played in the snow and ice in the past I have still enjoyed the competition and pageantry of the games. This year that spark has disappeared for me.

I think I have become so spoiled with the Summer Olympics and the coverage of other sports broadcasts in general that I am a little underwhelmed and bored with the games going on right now. When I get home from work it seems like the only competition coverage I am finding on the Winter Olympics is the primetime package on NBC. This is cool and all but I would prefer to have the option to view the more obscure events on other networks within the NBC family. I just like the choice to watch events more in their entirety rather than watching the flagship station jump in and out of the most popular events.

I also have a tough time connecting with the athletes. To put it truthfully, many of the Olympic athletes lack the powerful and adversity-filled backgrounds and stories that athletes from the Summer Olympics hold. Events in the winter games are more specialized and equipment dependent. Because of this many of the athletes come from more established backgrounds. This privilege, along with geography (it doesn’t snow everywhere), also reduces dramatically the amount of countries participating. I never have a sense that the “whole world” is competing at the Winter Olympics. Speaking of equipment, the helmets, pads, and full body suits cover up many of the athletes. You can’t see faces, body physique, and in some cases, emotion. These things (when visible) are big reasons why I enjoy watching sports.

How can an Olympics go on without Bob Costas? Tonight will mark the second straight night without Bob behind the desk as he faces a nasty eye infection. Rotten luck for sure but not hearing him give his powerful intro, not watching him interact with the athletes in the studio, and not smirking at his dry sense of humor takes a lot away from my enjoyment of the games. Trust me on this one, I like the guy so much that I wrote a blog post about him.

Maybe lacking the most is just the buzz. I don’t feel that people are that engaged in the games, even in the social media era that we live in. I haven’t heard anyone really talk about the games at work. I haven’t received any texts yet from people asking me if I am watching. My Twitter feed is by no means blowing up with #WinterOlympics hash tags. Maybe I am living under a rock and I just don’t know it but the magic of the Olympics is not there.

I haven’t given up all hope yet. The games are still young and a lot can still happen. I will continue to tune into the primetime coverage and give it a chance until boredom overtakes me. The Olympics are just too important for me to write off so I am not jumping ship. But can someone please give Bob Costas a miracle drug so he can get back to that anchor desk? Don’t Blink.

Praying For Peace in Sochi

Although I would watch the least significant sport in the Summer Olympics over the most significant sport in the Winter Olympics it doesn’t mean that I won’t watch the Sochi games. Although I have many reasons for liking the summer games over the winter games, what will occur in two days is still a world event that will match athletes across the planet against each other for the chance at Olympic gold. Just because I don’t care for cold, snow, and ice doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what I like more than anything else…high level competition.

Because I deeply value this special level of competition that only the Olympics can provide please excuse me if I say that I am a little concerned about the Sochi games. For the past six months all I have read about are problems that are plaguing the 2014 Winter Olympics. Issues such as corruption, unready facilities, unsafe courses, inequality for some athletes, lack of planning, and stray dogs running all over the place keep getting a lot of play in the media. These obstacles are serious and could tarnish the games. However, if dealt with head on during the next two and a half weeks I believe Sochi can manage to keep them out of the public eye and make a respectable lasting impression. While it will take a lot of work I think Russia can do it.

What scares me the most is terrorism. With many experts forecasting doubt on the safety and current political climate of Sochi, I have my concerns. And not that the average person living in the U.S. has a superior grasp on foreign security measures but for what it is worth a CNN poll recently came out that shows 57% of Americans think a terror attack is likely at this year’s games. I hate to say it and I never like to overreact but I do have an uneasy feeling in my stomach about whether the games will go on peacefully from the time the cauldron is lit to when it is ultimately extinguished.

Although it happened over 14 years before I was born I have that eerie image engrained in my head of that one masked assailant at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich looking down from the balcony as he helped his terrorist group hold the Israeli athletes hostage. Even after September 11 I still associate that image as the face of terrorism. I still get chills just thinking about. To think of something like that repeating itself in 2014 scares me.

Of course foreign Olympic host countries aren’t the only ones vulnerable to an attack. The bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta is a tragic event that I remember very well even though I was only ten. These horrific events can happen anywhere at any time and I think that is what worries me most about Sochi…whereas no one thought an attack would occur in Atlanta many people think an attack will occur in Sochi. See where I am going? If a terrorist plot succeeded in an Olympic city that people thought was untouchable than surely a terrorist plot can succeed in an Olympic city that already has grave concerns about safety.

May the 2014 Winter Olympics be safe and joyous. While analysts and former security big shots around the world can point fingers at Sochi right now, we all really have no idea what type of sophisticated measures and tactics are being planned behind closed doors. Pray for peace! Don’t Blink.