It’s Olympics time! I kind of love that the International Olympic Committee decided to stagger the summer and winter games, because it means we get to watch every two years without getting too much “Olympic fatigue.”
I also love pretty much everything else about the Olympics (albeit not as much as my friend, Parker, who dedicates himself to watching every available second of coverage and blogging about it!). But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Olympic coverage changed forever a few years ago in Beijing, which was then dubbed the “social Olympics.” If 2008 was social, 2014 is a 24/7 two-way conversation between the athletes, the IOC, the media and everyone who watches the games. That can be great – but it can also be not so great. The experience has changed, and the networks and hosts will have to catch up!
If you haven’t heard about #SochiProblems or the related Twitter account,@SochiProblems, you must be purposefully ignoring it! It all started when media began to arrive in Sochi to cover the games. They arrived to find that the hotels weren’t all ready, so many people didn’t have rooms. Those who did encountered “Sochi water,” which they were advised not to put on their faces, as it was dangerous. WHAT?
In 2014, Russia couldn’t have expected that these things would remain secret for long. The reporters started tweeting about their experiences, resulting in some hilarious articles like this one.
But the issues didn’t stop with the reporters. One American bobsledder reportedly had tobreak down a bathroom door after he got stuck post-shower. The summer resort the IOC selected to host these winter games is reportedly too warm, and the snow keeps melting. And BOB COSTAS HAS PINK EYE!
Does this mean that these Olympics are a failure? No. Every host city has their troubles. And my sister, who lives on the other side of Russia, assures me that she is allowed to flush her toilet paper and her water is safe to bathe in. What it does mean is that the host cities are under even more scrutiny than ever before, as any tourist activity that might be generated from the games could just as easily be lost by reports of poor conditions.
With so much media now, my least favorite thing about the Olympics are the spoilers. NBC paid a lot of money to exclusively broadcast the games on their network. But when the games are taking place halfway across the world, they compensate by taping and replaying the most popular sports during primetime.
But there’s one small issue, NBC. All the other networks who don’t have that primetime coverage tend to spoil the results. (Looking at you, ESPN.) All the people who watch it live by streaming it online tend to put the results on their Facebook statuses, in their tweets or on their blogs. If you somehow manage to avoid spoilers all day, watch out for NBC, who often spoils its own results on the NBC Nightly News – which airs an hour BEFORE the primetime coverage! If you want to be surprised, I suggest avoiding social media or news programs altogether before you watch.
That said, even when I know the results I still love to watch the games. Even knowing Shaun White would come in fourth and miss the podium, I was glued to the halfpipe coverage like something different could happen. As for the Sochi problems, they aren’t plaguing everyone. It’s worth noting that many athletes are very complimentary about the village and the venues. As for me, I’m just hoping to go to the Olympics once in my life. Maybe I’ll pick up speed walking and make an appearance in Rio. Or maybe I’ll just go as a spectator. Whatever works.