By James Howey
Last Thursday night NBC kicked off its winter Olympic coverage in Sochi, Russia with the best Thursday night prime time rating since the opening of the NFL regular season. Despite the lack of knowledge of many of the athletes and events, every four years the winter Olympics seems to captivate the American public.
Many aspects of the Olympics hit home with audiences in the United States. Americans love the underdog and the Olympics is always filled with many stories of the young woman or man who has worked through adversity to be on that gigantic, international stage to represent the United States. We love to lavish over young, up-and-coming star athletes, and no event is a better example of this than women’s figure skating.
I’ve always said that when the Winter Olympics come around the three most popular American athletes are Peyton Manning, LeBron James, and whoever is the best women’s figure skater. 18-year-old skater Gracie Gold lived up to the hype surrounding her when she helped the U.S. skating team earn a bronze medal. Gold scored the second highest individual score behind fifteen year old Russian star Julia Lipnitskaia. American Ashley Wagner also helped the figure skating team with her solid performance. Wagner and Gold are slated to have their own individual events and are both looking to bring home medals to the U.S.
The Olympics also bring an opportunity for American auditions to have a united patriotic rooting interest in the games. For most of the sports year fans usually have their own specific team to root for, but with the Olympics, fans have a chance to root for their country.
The Olympics can bring about historic moments in sports lore. Just about every American knows about the 1980 Olympic Hockey match between the U.S. and Russia. Also known as “The Miracle on Ice”, it is one of the most monumental and enduring American sports moments ever to come from Olympic hockey, even though hockey is not a very popular sport in America.
So with all the controversy that surrounds this year’s hockey games in Sochi, including the recent human rights issues, people should not be shocked that plenty of people will tune in to watch the great sporting spectacle that is the Olympics.
Contact James Howey, sports editor, at email@example.com.