The Dugout

Now that my Super Bowl hangover is over and I am (almost) over Nick Foles beating my New England Patriots, I guess it is time to move onto the next major sporting event that is going on: the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The casual Olympics watcher may see “Olympic Athletes from Russia” in the medal counts or see those athletes compete in events and get confused and rightfully so. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) came down on Russia and their Olympic Committee for supporting doping for their athletes. In terms easier to understand, Russia was giving their athletes performance enhancing drugs, which is very illegal. To most, this was a long time coming, but the confusion comes in when there are still Russian athletes competing in the games but technically are not representing Russia, weird, I know. Some of the athletes were banned from competition because of the scandal, while about 170 athletes from Russia are competing. North Korea also decided to be a part of the World for once with two athletes qualifying for the games, which is a neat story, but they also brought along with them cheerleaders, who eerily remind people of sorority recruitment videos. Enough about Russia and North Korea though because USA USA USA!!! For some reason, I am struggling to get behind the Olympics this year. Maybe it is because I am a student-athlete with a packed schedule, but that has never stopped me from watching sports before. Maybe it is because the National Hockey League’s Commissioner, Gary Bettman, did not allow anyone in the NHL to represent their home country in South Korea. Those are both minor inconveniences that I am having trouble to completely justify my disinterest in the Olympics. I honestly believe it is something completely out of the control of any individual: the 14-hour time difference between South Korea and Virginia is what is killing the Olympic vibe for me. The beauty of sports is watching the events unfold right in front of your eyes as they happen live at the venue. The Olympic television partner, NBC, does a great job of coverage for the Olympics, but the primetime spot on NBC is mainly filled with the main events from the day because that is what the people want to see, but the people already know the result. Social media, specifically Twitter, is ruining the viewing experience for me. For example, the Opening Ceremonies are always a spectacle with glimpses into the host country’s culture, but by the time it aired on television, numerous pictures and videos were posted on Twitter about the Opening Ceremonies. I did the best I could to watch, but with already seeing what was going to happen, I changed the channel to a live college basketball game after about 15 minutes into the airing of the Opening Ceremonies. I can check my phone when I wake up in the morning and periodically throughout the day and see who wins what medal and how the United States is stacking up in the medal count. I do not need to wait until 8 p.m. every night for Bob Costas or Mike Tirico to tell me how the United States is doing, when I can just look at Twitter whenever I want to see the results. It will be interesting to see how the primetime slot for NBC does for ratings after the Olympics are completed since the main events not are not shown live. I am guessing they will be down compared to previous Olympics where the primetime slot was live. Would people have watched each and every Michael Phelps medal race if the result was already known? I know I would not have watched the Super Bowl if I knew the Patriots were going to lose before it was aired on television. Regardless of the viewing issues, the Olympics is an awesome event that the world can come together and cheer for their country. Go USA!

Luke Chiasson