Watching the Olympics from home has been a frustration for all concerned. The most popular sporting events in the world did not have audiences.
Your editor (Larry Eder) watched all 55 hours of track & field heats and finals live. That is why I went back to the Midwest, so I could get up at 5 am and stay up a bit. I have to admit that I was jet lagged for two weeks.
I asked Samantha Fariss to write this column. She has been writing for us via a University of Oregon program championed by Lori Shontz, a Professor of Journalism at the University.
Enjoy the column, and let me know how you fared viewing the 2021 Olympics.
Watching the Olympics at home
By Sam Fariss for RunBlogRun
EUGENE, Ore. – I was at the 2020 Track and Field Olympic Trials. Mainly because I was working with TrackTown as an operator of the brand new Virtual Mixed Zone, but also because it was in the town I live in and I could.
The Olympic Games themselves were very different. But it was more than literally being different from the trials in the sense that this was the end result; what the athletes had worked toward for five years. My ability to watch them, even on television, wasn’t the same. They didn’t even really feel the same to me as the 2012 or 2016 Games.
To begin with, if I wanted to watch the track and field events live, I had to set an alarm to wake up around 3 a.m. (7 p.m. in Tokyo) so that I could roll out of bed and turn the TV on in time – it was that or stay up all night which always sounded equally unappealing.
Beyond that, the rules and restrictions surrounding COVID made me feel as though I was watching some satirical show about professional sports. With empty stands and nobody cheering on the runners, I couldn’t help but only think about how weird it must be for them.
Imagine, working your entire life for this, earning a gold medal and nobody is there to clap, there isn’t a single fan in the stands.
I love track and field, I ran in middle school and high school, and I still try to push myself to run every once in a while. I wanted to watch the races and field events during the Games but I found it so hard to get myself up to do so. I obviously had the choice to watch any and every sport on tape delay but by then I would have already seen an ESPN or New York Times notification about the result.
This is in no way saying that NBC, or any other station, did not do their job well. I think it just didn’t actually feel like the Olympics, and they couldn’t help that.
Because of the time change between any state, it was a weird year for Americans to watch the Olympics. When you have to add on the ramifications of COVID protocols, it was weird for any country to watch the Games this year.
I look forward to the Paris Games and am hopeful that by then, they’ll be able to feel a little more normal.