A-List Blog: Oly ennui
With the Olympics over, what are we to make of this noise we’re hearing that they don’t mean what they once did?
From my perspective, it was an odd Olympics year because I watched hardly any of the events on television, as I usually do (for winter, not summer). I’m not sure if this was because I was crowded off the TV by my Playstation-playing kids and “Bachelor”-watching wife or if I was just too immersed in them from work.
See, this year, for the first time, we sent our own reporter to the Games. Shauna Farnell went as a representative of several of the mountain-area papers in our group, including the Summit Daily, Aspen Times and several papers in the Tahoe area that we own. As the main point of contact for Shauna, I got and edited all her stories, posted them to the Web site, distributed them to the group and found and tweaked the photos to go with them.
So, sure, it was a little hard to get excited about watching an evening television broadcast about an event the winners of which I knew pretty early that morning.
But there was more at work, “they” say (the media, I guess). With everyone dialed into the Internet all the time, and so many different outlets to get the information during the day, there just isn’t the same inspiration for people to cluster around the TV in the evening. Too, we didn’t have any heart-thumping stories a la the 1980 U.S. hockey team, and some of our biggest stars simply didn’t deliver.
There’s more, though: The Winter Games used to be the place to see the best athletes in the world competing in sports that we didn’t often see that much on primetime. But now, the TV lineup is overflowing with bizarre, extreme or outrageous sports of all stripes – many of them truly dangerous. How does curling or figure skating stack up to that? Could it be that we’ve become inured to lower-level stimulation and require much larger jolts to get our pulse up?
Even so, no one will ever be able to explain to me why people singing poorly and being insulted for it can trump watching, say, an alpine downhill race. “American Idol?” Please. Even the winners of this thing make me want to retch. Clay Aiken? Good god! Where’s the search for the next Tom Waits or Elvis Costello? (Never mind, I know the answer.)
The Winter Games will always have a special appeal to residents of the High Country, no doubt. But we will be checking our Web site figures to see what kind of readership we got online, and we’ll no doubt look at what we spent to send someone there in relation to the reader interest. So, if anyone has any thoughts pro or con, let us know. We’ll be making this decision again in a few years about whether to send someone to the Games in Whistler …