LOVE THOSE GAMES
I don’t hate the Olympics. Nor do I carry on a love affair with them. They make for a difficult two and a half weeks every two years, alternating between the summer and winter games. To be frank, the potential for looking bad during the Olympics is just too great for someone in my profession.
I have actually covered the World Figure Skating Championships, but I got into this profession more than 40 years ago primarily for baseball, just like most in this profession who grew up in my generation, and I’m not going to watch ice dancing and give you an accurate scoring, though I did amaze my wife yesterday with my nearly spot on assessments of distances and scores in the men’s ski jumping, but hey, that’s an event I’ve enjoyed since the late 60’s. I remember the “Agony of Defeat” guy crashing through the corner post on the ski jump ramp, when it actually happened. I also know when someone falls in downhill skiing it’s not going to help his chances of medaling, but the rest of the scoring, you know, missed gates and such, leaves me guessing with the best of them.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was mesmerized by the women’s curling competition last week, and I am picking up on some of the scoring, I’m even starting the figure out the purpose of the guys with the brooms and what makes for a good stone release, but I didn’t spend a career in sports casting to become a curling afficianado once every four years.
We in this business create a number of our own problems by trying to pass ourselves off as knowledgeable in events we never cover, or see only once every four years, some even less frequently than that, depending on which events happen to be the “Evente du Olympique” for a given Olympiad.
I understand most of what goes on in a hockey game, but, show of hands, and be honest, how many of you were taken by surprise when T.J. Oshie came out for a second shot in the shootout, then a third, and a fourth? How many of you realized that under international rules a player can shoot as many times as they want him to? Good thing for the U.S. Oshie was the difference in the win over Russia.
But, for most of us, most of our knowledge of events like the biathlon, ice dancing and the scoring in most of the snowboard events comes from what we read, putting full faith in those who wrote it, who aren’t always accurate. By setting ourselves up as experts because this is our baileywick, reporting sports, when we get it wrong because someone else got it wrong, it’s our phone that rings off the hook, while they just get off the hook. Most of this stuff I only see once every four years while I’m spending the rest of my time with baseball, football, basketball and hockey at every level imaginable, and much of it is just Greek to me.
And don’t get me started on the timing. Was that this morning or last night, yesterday or today, tomorrow or Thursday or are they both the same day? And I don’t give two hoots on a tin whistle who’s anchoring for whom at NBC because someone has pinkeye, but I do enjoy sharing the feel good moments every time an American wins a gold medal or overachieves. In that way my interest in the Olympics is just the same as it is with most of you. What I know most about the Olympics, even after having covered one, is my life gets a lot easier when it’s over.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.