Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Washington Post
Iraq Order of Battle
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News

Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Digby's Blog
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Yawn Olympics

So when does the World Cup start?

Games Found Lacking, in Fans and Atmosphere

Published: February 15, 2006

TURIN, Italy, Feb. 14 — When the American speedskater Jennifer Rodriguez walked into Oval Lingotto on Tuesday for the 500-meter race, she said she could barely believe her eyes. In two previous Olympics, Rodriguez skated in front of roaring crowds, in Nagano, Japan, and in Salt Lake City.

This time, a smattering of flags waved and clumps of fans were scattered around the oval's 6,807 seats.

"I'm very disappointed," Rodriguez said. "I came out and it was like half-empty, or half-full, depending on how you look at it. But I feel like the Olympics should be sold out."

Rodriguez's sentiments were being echoed in other sports, where scores of vacant seats brought flashbacks to Athens's empty stadiums and its lack of enthusiasm for many Olympic events.

So far, organizers and the International Olympic Committee express nothing but happiness with the crowds, but the sparse attendance, including at the two premier events Tuesday — the men's combined skiing and the men's figure skating short program — is startlingly reminiscent of the embarrassment of Athens.

"I would feel very bad if I was an Italian skater," Rodriguez said. "You expect to hear the roar of the crowd. It's a little bit dead out there."

The oval's misery has plenty of company. Freestyle skiing failed to crack the 50 percent mark in attendance at the women's moguls qualifying event Saturday, the opening day of competition, and the atmosphere drooped. The men's figure skaters performed Tuesday night in front of huge gaps of empty seats, and ushers urged people to move down and fill out the lower sections, just as they had done in Athens at the women's gymnastics.

For every sold-out event like men's snowboarding, there is a half-full luge site — even when Armin Zoeggeler was favored to win, which he did, earning Italy's first gold medal. Four years ago in Salt Lake City — where luge is no more popular than it is here — fans piled four deep along the track and filled the bleachers as well.

Even the men's downhill Sunday, which was announced as sold out with 8,784 people in the stands, struck athletes as less than the festive atmosphere they usually enjoy. In Salt Lake City, more than 15,000 crammed at the bottom of the mountain and created a constant ruckus.

"Everything is going fine," said Giuseppe Gattino, spokesman for the Turin organizers. "Last week we had sold 700,000 tickets, and now we have a total of 789,000, so it is going very well. In the last two weeks, we have seen an explosion of passion."

NBC did a story about the Turino Calcio team, and how 60+ years after a tragic plane crash, how the locals want the new team to make it back to Serie A, the top Italian league. They seemed a LOT more excited about that than the Olympics.

The fact is that the event the vast majority of Italians are interested in starts in June in Germany. The World Cup dwarfs the Olympics. The Africa Cup is getting as much play as the Olympics in Europe, more in Africa.

If people are going to spend money, they're far more likely to save that money to go to Germany than to watch people skate or ski.

The reason that the Olympics feels so flat in the US is also due to the rise in soccer and the X games. Downhill Skiing is boring compared to the X Games. And there are now enough Americans who care about the World Cup that the Olympics have been reduced to a TV show.

Also, I don't think NBC has ever been as good as ABC in covering the games. That also hurts. But the fact is that the same audience who cares about international sports can revel in soccer.

And then there is the joy of watching woman's curling

posted by Steve @ 2:58:00 PM

2:58:00 PM

The News Blog home page


Editorial Staff

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans