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Why don't we care about the Winter Olympics?

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Are you aware, sports fans, that we are on the precipice of a monumental, worldwide sporting event?

Yeah, it sort of snuck up on me too.

But no one would blame you if you didn't have Friday, the day the Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver, circled on your desktop calendar long ago. In fact, it probably makes you part of a majority of people who ho-hum this jamboree of frozen athletics.

One could make an argument that compared to its much sexier Summer counterpart, the cold-weather Games are a distant second -- and that the difference between gold and silver is stark.

In fact, do we even care about the Winter Olympics or are they just a glorified two-week succession of made-for-TV human interest stories? Cynical as it may be, it's a valid question.

As sports fans, should we care about the athletes who sacrifice so much for this one shot at glory? Why can't we get as emotionally invested and entertained?

Maybe you do. If so, bless your heart.

You're able to appreciate the artistry of the figure skating, every little nuance to a record-setting luge run. You're able to appreciate these non-traditional sports for what makes them different.

But for many of us, there's just no connection to the niche sports that permeate the Winter Games. We've never tried a double axel or taken a life-threatening aerial off a ski jump. The sports lack a certain connectivity that we see in the summer.

Running, jumping, throwing, swimming. These make sense on a very primal level.

We understand the impossibility of what Usain Bolt does with his legs and what Michael Phelps does in the water because we've been there before. It connects deeper, both physically and emotionally.

We understand that when a sprinter crosses the finish line or a swimmer touches the final wall, they win. Understanding the artistic integrity of an ice dancing performance is much harder to grasp.

Perhaps it's an indictment of our inability to stretch outside the comfort zone. It's human nature to like what one is used to. The Winter Games challenge us to learn new rules, new methods of scorekeeping, to assess sports that are completely foreign all together.

Without looking, try to remember where the 2006 Games were. Now the 2002. Try to remember the remarkable events that happened. Try to remember which athletes networks an advertisers hope we'll drop everything to watch.

Not so easy, is it?

Even if you were able to get the answers (Torino, 2006, and Salt Lake City, 2002), combined they flat-out lack the panache the Summer Games of 2008 in Beijing had (Phelps, Bolt, the new Dream Team).

Sure, there will be big names in the hockey, where some of the NHL's best will be on display. But as an editor pointed out, the contest lacks the intensity that made the 1980's miracle in Lake Placid so transcendent. No Cold War, less intrigue, he points out.

Perhaps this is an overreaction.

Then again, maybe not. Unscientifically, it sure seems like there has been an obvious lack of buzz surrounding the Vancouver Games. NBC, which paid $820 million for the broadcasting rights, is expecting to lose a couple hundred million bucks on the endeavor.

As a public, we can hope. Hope that they exceed our expectations and deliver dramatic moment after dramatic moment. Hope we learn a new appreciation for a new event. Hope they can be as sexy as their Summer counterparts.

Even if they snuck up on us.

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5 Comments

I like Olympic hockey. That's the thing I get excited about in the Winter Games. It's more open and the players more skillful than in the NHL and it's just more fun to watch.

Other than that - and some people zipping down death-defying tracks at super-high speeds - though, there isn't much I have to watch. Have you seen the bobsled track? It looks insane.

But sports like the Biathlon? I don't get it.

Such typical US garbage writing. I am sure if a US city hosted the games there were would be none of this second guessing. How selfish to take away from the hard working athletes with such drivel comments.

Oh my God, take a map and look outside your borders. There are indeed other countries who DO care.

With the exception of short track speed skating, which is a relatively new event, the winter sports winners are determined by a Time Trial or Judging.

People want instant gratification.

Actually, real speed skating, 500 meter track, is determined by head to head competition between athletes - and by the athletes battling the clock. It's a great sport. I'm in the US and I feel we get a lot of ridiculous columns and articles like this because in many ways the Winter Games aren't "Politically Correct". Bryant Gumble really went off on this a few years back. Who cares? Let the countries who participate in Winter Sports in high numbers and at high levels compete. Just because it doesn't snow in Rio or skiing isn't big in Zambia doesn't make the event or sports any less legitimate than other sporting events. Individual sports in general are interesting and exciting to watch because of the amount of work the athletes put in, along with the talent they must have in the first place. This is true whether it's track and field in the Summer or speed skating in the Winter. Last time I checked, hockey was a popular sport in many places around the world, except in the offices of Gary Bettman, the NHL Commisioner, where he and his cronies are purposely trying to destroy the sport.

Sure, there are events at the Winter Games I'm not interested, like figure skating. But plenty of other people are. If you're not a fan of something, no one is forcing you to watch. Change the channel.

There are plenty of places in the world where the people think the NFL and NBA are boring, idiotic jokes. Maybe they're right on some level.

The title of this article should read "we dont care about the winter Olympics cause we don't dominate it" Typical American comment. Yuu dont like it cause your not #1. I bet if you had a Phelps in the winter Olypmpics you would be singing a different song

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