JENKINS: Olympic Games are sports for non-sports fans

Photo by Ginny Sampson 

Photo by Ginny Sampson 

At the risk of committing sacrilege, I have to ask: Am I the only one who's pretty much done with the Olympics?

Of course, by the time you read this, we'll all be just about finished with the Olympics, literally, as the closing ceremony is this afternoon.

But surely I won't be alone in welcoming the merciful end of the 2012 Games. Surely I'm not the only one who's tired of the endless hype, the 24/7, wall-to-wall coverage of teenagers competing in sports that, for 206 weeks, you couldn't pay people to watch.

Speaking of which, did you hear about the professional synchronized diving league that's coming to Atlanta? Or the rumor that Gabriel Douglas is "taking her talents to South Beach" for a reported $18 million a year?

No? That's because there is no professional synchronized diving league. No one would watch it. And Gabby may be headed to South Beach, but only to film a sports drink commercial -- after which she will make the morning talk show rounds, grace a cereal box, and then disappear until 2016.

That is, unless she's supplanted in the next Games by some now-13-year-old, patiently waiting in the wings and lusting for the spotlight.

It's not that I don't appreciate the athletic ability on display in gymnastics, diving, and some of those other sports. I DO appreciate it -- for two or three days. After that, in all honestly, I find that I just don't care.

I think most real sports fans would agree: The Olympics is just something to watch when the Royals and the Blue Jays are not playing on ESPN 4. For that matter, data show that the vast majority of people who watch the Olympics hardly ever tune in to ESPN.

The Olympics, then, are sports for non-sports fans, more reality TV than athletic contest. Perhaps that's why those of us who can't go to bed before checking out "SportsCenter" find the games oddly unsatisfying: we feel like we ought to be interested, but we're just not.

Or maybe it's because we refuse to take seriously any sport in which the process for determining a winner is so utterly subjective. Two times in this Olympics, gymnasts' scores have been overturned because their coaches objected to the judges' decision.

In one case it was an American, Aly Raisman, who was elevated to third place and won a bronze medal as a result of her appeal. Good for her.

But can you imagine a baseball umpire reversing a bang-bang call at home plate in response to some dirt-kicking manager's profanity-laced tirade? Or an NBA referee saying to Kevin Durant, "You're right. You were fouled on that last play. Let's go back and shoot the free throws."

No, real sports fans can't imagine any such thing. And that's why the Olympics leave us with one burning question: How long until football season?

Rob Jenkins is a freelance writer, a college professor, and now a pariah. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter@rjenkinsgdp.


henrystamm 3 years, 3 months ago

Well Rob in the case of the NBC showing the games one did not no when and where. Sadly this is a network that is incompetent in everything they do. One had to first check the Olympic schedule for the times of your interested sport, than go to the 4 or 5 channels to find out if they are showing it live. Most of the channels ordinary viewers do not receive. If NBC decided to show it at night, tough luck. I personally saw every event I wanted but only because NBC thinks they are not important, stay that dumb NBC. For your statement that all the athletes competing in this event will be forgotten, that is true. But that is the only place they can show and be rewarded for all the efforts and training they have accomplished. Do not diminish personal accomplishments but congratulate them. It is better to train than do drugs behind your shopping center. Blame NBC for their incompetence.


Sign in to comment