Notes from the North
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I just can't get excited about the Olympics this time around. In fact, I'm not even sure when they start, although I know it's sometime soon.

The closest I've gotten to catching Olympic fever is by watching the Britcom "Twenty Twelve" every week on the Comedy Network up here in Canada. It's a great show, so good in fact that I'm worried it will turn out to be a heckuva lot better than the Games themselves.

Why can't I get excited about this edition of the Olympic Games?

Is it because the USOC forced a bunch of knitters to rename their own "Ravelympics" for fear of a copyright infringement lawsuit?

Is it because my own beloved Canada doesn't seem to have any big-name stars this time around who are sure-fire bets for medals?

Is it because the London organising committee of these games seems to be in such disarray that the 2012 Olympics appear to be a sure bet to be a complete disaster?

Not really.

It's because I feel the world has lost track of what the Olympics are all about, that's why.

Already, the pre-Olympic coverage seems to be focusing on mainstream sports that feature over-hyped and over-paid professional athletes like basketball and tennis.

For me, the Olympics are supposed to be about the other sports, the so-called minor sports that feature amateur athletes who toil away in relative obscurity just for the joy of competing, the thrill of representing their countries and the hope that maybe, just maybe, the Olympics will give them a chance for a tiny bit of recognition, a brief visit, if you will, to the media spotlight.

Instead, we're inundated with sports were already know played by athletes we're likely completely sick of.

We just watched Roger Federer win at Wimbledon and regain his number one ranking. We were wowed by Serena Williams and her return to the top at the same tournament. Coverage of their matches was complete, both in terms of being available to watch live and being able to read the media's response to each match.

We just saw LeBron James win his first NBA title. It was a media circus that dominated the airwaves.

And now we're supposed to get excited about seeing them all again, playing the same sport, at the Olympics. And the coverage will be overwhelming.

To the detriment of the other sports, like track and field, fencing, weight-lifting, platform diving, swimming, cycling, volleyball, rowing, and all the other athletic competitions that we really only got to see when the Olympics come around every four years.

Until the big sports and the professional athletes took over.

Frankly, I don't care who wins the men's basketball gold. I won't pay attention to whether or not Roger or Serena or whoever takes the Olympic title in tennis.

I'll be hoping to find five minutes of coverage here and there for the athletes I don't see every week, the ones who compete for themselves and for their country, knowing that, even if they win a gold, they're not going to be able to give up their day jobs.

Those are the true Olympians. And those are the athletes who really deserve the media coverage and attention, at least for this two-week period that comes around just once every four years.

I just don't understand why the powers that be in the Olympic movement would ever have wanted to take that spotlight away from those true amateur athletes in the first place.

July 20, 2012  03:31 PM ET

Olympic-sized greed, that is why (the powers that be) professionalized the games. But you knew that already. Amateurism is bedrock to this competition and most fans agree. But most fans will watch anything the powers that be put on the tube: dancing footballers, close-ups of corpses and arguments about storage facilities. Talk about a wasteland.

Good write, good stand.

July 20, 2012  04:43 PM ET

Agree wholeheartedly. The Olympics were better when the U.S. sent real amateurs (especially when the amateurs beat the Soviet block fake-amateurs).

Best Olympics: 1984. Mary Lou Retton, Edwin Moses, the USA basketball team (Jordan, Mullin, Ewing, Alford ... all still before they turned pro).

July 20, 2012  07:52 PM ET

Obviously television shows the sports that the most people want to see ... so they believe that most people want to see the big stars of big sports. Which really means that marginal sports fans dictate the coverage ... "fans" who only watch when recognizable names are involved. Just another change to pander to the lowest common denominator because that's where the money is.

July 20, 2012  11:05 PM ET

"Is it because my own beloved Canada doesn't seem to have any big-name stars this time around who are sure-fire bets for medals?"
Yes, that is it. If you know at least one athlete that you wanted to cheer for, and was a favorite to medal, then you would singing a different tone.

I wonder if London can top China's opening ceremony.

July 21, 2012  12:30 PM ET

Excellent read. The reality, though, is that this isn't an argument for amateurism -- that ship sailed decades ago thanks to the Dassler brothers and others who would deign to get Olympians sponsoring their gear -- so much as it is an argument for shining a light on obscurity. I've long thought myself one of the few American sports fans who are engrossed by the non-traditional sports, seeking out track meets and cycling races and swimming and water polo and all those other sports that most Americans forget even exist until the Olympics roll around. The problem here isn't professionalism... it is that only professionals who are already well-known to the public are used as the primary marketing engine.

Great read... thanks for provoking some legitimate thought around FanNation!

July 21, 2012  12:32 PM ET

Excellent read. The reality, though, is that this isn't an argument for amateurism -- that ship sailed decades ago thanks to the Dassler brothers and others who would deign to get Olympians sponsoring their gear -- so much as it is an argument for shining a light on obscurity. I've long thought myself one of the few American sports fans who are engrossed by the non-traditional sports, seeking out track meets and cycling races and swimming and water polo and all those other sports that most Americans forget even exist until the Olympics roll around. The problem here isn't professionalism... it is that only professionals who are already well-known to the public are used as the primary marketing engine.

Great read... thanks for provoking some legitimate thought around FanNation!

July 21, 2012  12:33 PM ET

Damn double posts!!!

July 21, 2012  04:07 PM ET

Disagree, completely. This will be the most user friendly Olympics of all time. You will be able to see the LIVE feed of every event, not to mention following your favorite athletes during the competition. You can even get apps alerting you to their start times. Tape delay this Olympics will be the thing of the past. LIVE online viewing. together will TV rights, will probably make this the biggest Olympics in history.

Speaking of history, the Olympics hasn't been the same since it's revival in 1886. That's progress whether you like it or not.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_Games#Revival

 
July 21, 2012  04:21 PM ET

This is why I miss ABC's Wide World of Sports. The sport might be in the Olympics but the network televising the Olympics spends more time showing the more 'popular' stuff.

Still will watch as much Olympic coverage as I can, but I'd like to see more of the not-so-popular sports.

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