Recently going on is the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. However, in my 15 years of living, I am beginning to notice a pattern- there is never that same vigor and energy for the Winter Olympics compared to the Summer Olympics. Now, why is that?
1. History– We all know when the Olympic games originated from- during the old old days in Greece. However, only Greeks participated in it- thus only the Greeks got excited about it. The first international modern Olympics, however, would no doubt bring a lot of excitement. I mean, think about it- it’s the first time nations are competing with each other in which no war is involved, so there must have been extreme patriotism back then. Oh and guess what? The first modern Olympic games were summer, not winter, Olympics. Winter Olympics only came around 20 years after. Thus, from the beginning, all the main initial excitement has always been focused on the summer games.
2. Accessibility– you can’t just go out in the middle of the street and start ice skating all of a sudden. But you can go out to the middle of the street and start playing basketball, soccer, or any of those summer sports. Pretty much, anywhere you go, even in places best for winter sports, you can play summer sports. Whereas with winter sports, one is restricted to the ice rink or places with snow.
3. Mainstream popularity– let’s face it- the last time you watched a luge competition was probably the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In between 2010 and now you probably didn’t even bother about it. Now let’s look at basketball- oh wait isn’t the All-Star competitions happening right now? In the middle of the Winter Olympics? Pretty much, we all pay attention to summer sports even when its a Winter Olympic year.
4. Time– the Winter Olympics take place around February. I’m still at school; most adults are still at work. If I have a freaking test to study for the next day, I’m not gonna watch the Olympics. Pretty much, the time the winter games take place in is merely inconvenient for many. We still have to go on with our normal lives and in turn, not bother about the games. Whereas with summer, why it’s the season of vacations! And why not when you’re free tune in at the summer Olympics? More convenience here.
So what does this all show? One thing is that the appeal for winter sports is relatively low. Whereas most nations opt in for the Summer Games, a fair number opt out of the Winter Games. I would predict a slowly declining interest in winter sports, specifically sports like luge or bobsledding, yet I guess the only reason why these sports are still retaining a good amount of their appeal is pretty much due to the Winter Olympic Games itself. Second, winter athletes are paid poorly. The only reason why Kobe is sponsored like hell is because basketball is being watched almost daily, and thus Kobe has more fame appeal to take advantage of. How about people like Shani Davis? The nation only pays attention to him like for two weeks every four years. Very little incentive there for sponsors.
But I guess there is one thing that’s good about all this. Winter athletes are more passionate about their sport. Despite the lack of fame, money, and good incentives, these athletes still practice and work out everyday. They still compete and do it for the fun of it even if they know nothing as good as summer sports might come out of it. Who knows if basketball stars really love basketball? Maybe it might just be the fame or money they like. But we all know that the little-known skeleton racer who places in a little-known competition is doing it for the sport.
On a last note, this year’s Olympics has actually made me more open to watching skating. The skaters are beautiful. But so hopefully will be my next post on the relation between the concept of entropy and the concept of civilization.