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Thread: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?

  1. #1
    mathman444
    Guest

    Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    The most popular spectator sport in the U.S. (football) is not represented in the Olympics at all, nor is the most popular sport world-wide (football, aka soccer). At the opposite end of the spectrum are minor sports that no one even knows exist, except once every four years when we see them briefly at the Olympic games, for example kayaking, archery and my personal favorite, the two-man luge.

    Figure skating is in the middle. Our sport attracts a certain live and television audience for National and World Championships, and for a few other high profile events. Still, historically, many people tune in only for the winter Olympics -- at which figure skating is the marquee event.

    It seems to me that in the last few years circumstances have conspired to bring the regular skating seasons into sharper focus and to diminish the role of the Olympics as the only show in town. Some of these factors are:

    1. The judging scandals and the perception that Olympic victories are more about corrupt politics than about sport.

    2. The success and popularity of skating icons such as Michelle Kwan, Irina Slutskaya, Todd Eldredge, Elvis Stoyko and Kurt Browning, with multiple National and World Championships but no Olympic gold medal...In contrast with...

    3. The feeling that many recent Olympic champions were not really the best in the sport, only the luckiest on that day. This is especially true for those who disappear from the sport immediately after their victory.

    4. We have so many blockbuster “entertainment event of the century” things going on all the time (the super bowl, March madness, Wimbledon, the Masters). The big sports people in the U.S. are not Olympians, but those who win major championships in their individual sports (Michael Jordan, Serena Williams -- she’s on TV right now! -- Tiger Woods.)

    What do you think? Are the Olympics fading away as the big whoop of figure skating?

    Mathman




  2. #2
    Joesitz
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    Mathman - much of what you say is 'right on' and the question you pose is too. As Chris Evert said, we have Wimbleton, the Olympics are not necessary.

    So I believe we need the Olys for such sports as kayacking and pushing that thing along the ice (like shuffleboard,forgot the name).

    Figure Skating appeals mostly to women because it has a high show biz entertainment value. One gets a contest, a fashion show, music, interesting balletic movements, and grace. Hardly the factors in Ice Hockey or Down Hill Skiing.

    There is too, a devoted fan base of figure skating which will go out of his/her way to see any form of figure skating. But the occasional TV viewer will watch a competition when it does not compete with another sport at the same time on TV, and without a lot of publicity (good or bad), during the Olys.

    The publicity will be there!! The TV companies will provide any which way they can to produce revenue for their companies. Diet food and Insurance companies, etc., will keep figure skating alive on TV and the Olys. But, are the Olys in general fading? hmmm, maybe. It's nothing new on TV. It can't compete with what Ms Evert said and, of course, the World Series is untouchable. The Olys excitement may have waned.

    Joe

  3. #3
    nymkfan51
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    Mathman, this is a good question.
    I still think that a majority of the people only watch figure skating at the Olympics ... although I think it's not as wide a majority as before. You are right about the fact that several very decorated skaters do not have Olympic gold ... but instead some that had the skate of their life just at the right time, and then pretty much became a non-factor in the sport after that. I wouldn't call them lucy necessarily, because they did deliver the goods when they had to.
    For me personally, the fact that Michelle doesn't yet have an OGM ... diminishes the value of that somewhat. There is still Turino though ... I still believe!!!

  4. #4
    Jaana
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    I would say that in sport (and also figure skating is supposed to be sport) the best of the evening should win. And in that event it means that the one who has won, is the best of the sport in that event. It should not have anything to do with the fact how decorated or not the athlete is before the Olympics. In figure skating though the earlier merits count more than in many other sports.

    There are some cases in figure skating where the strong favourites were not able to deliver their usual level at the Olympics. Sometimes the same has happened to some skaters in more than one Olympics. My guess is that it has very much to do with the nerves for being in Olympics. Or injuries or maybe an athlete has made some wrong decisions in that very important Olympic season?

    The Olympic winners in figure skating have not been unknown skaters without merits. If we for example think of Tara and Ilia, they both had won competitions before the Olympics. Tara has been a National Champion, World Champion and GP Finals Champion. Ilia was the Russian Champion twice, an European Champion, World silver medallist, GP Finals Champion and World Junior champion. Ilia was fortunate that he peaked in the right time. That does not mean just for the Olympics, he peaked in the right season. I think he got some extra iniative because of the Worlds 1997, where he was only fifth. Besides the Olympic season is the very one when athletes should try to peak, LOL.

    The win at the Olympic is a big win, and the fact that an athlete is not e.g. a World Champion of several times, does not make the win any lesser. I would say that on the contrary it makes her/his win even a bigger one, because everything was planned and executed right in that season. It also means that some athletes rise to the occasion.

    I believe that Olympic champions will still continue being those very rare people who were able to win an Olympic gold medal. What happened in SLC, does not alter that, in my opinion. And an athlete carries the glory and honour of being an Olympic champion during the life. It does not matter in what discipline she/he did win or whether it happened in summer or winter Olympics, or what happened after the Olympics. An Olympic champion is an Olympic champion, LOL.

    About e.g. male Olympic figure skating champions staying in eligible skating after their win, it does not seem that many recent ones have stayed. Those who left after their Olympic win season: Curry, Cousins, Hamilton, Boitano (came back later but not successfully), Petrenko (ditto) and Ilia Kulik. Yagudin is/has been injured, nobody knows anything for sure about him. The only one who stayed was Alexei Urmanov who won in 1994.

    And I also think that is is understandable that after an Olympic win, as the biggest goal in the career has been reached, a skater has to consider what she/he wishes to do most. Ilia Kulik for example was interested in doing choreography and to take his skating on another level, the pro skating, where he could concentrate on trying different things which were not possible in eligible skating.

    Marjaana



  5. #5
    RealtorGal
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    <span style="color:maroon;font-family:georgia;font-size:small;">Marjaana, I agree completely with your post. To say that the Olympics is diminished because Michelle doesn't have a gold medal is insulting to Sarah, Tara and anyone else who found it within himself/herself to rise to the special occasion and win on actual performance, not past achievements. Boo hoo. That is exactly what I have always loved about the Olympics: watching athletes do something special when it counts. That is why the Olympics is so special. I have always loved everything about the Olympics (except scandalous judging). Ever since I was a child, I have found myself GLUED to the TV for the duration. I, a mediocre athlete at best, always admired the determination and dedication of these athletes. Whether or not they win, just getting there impresses me, especially when athletes come from countries where competition is so stiff. Even now, at 40+ to me, the Olympics has not lost its luster and appeal. The Olympic competitions still give me goosebumps, no matter what sport I'm watching!</span>

  6. #6
    mathman444
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    I guess the point of my question was this: the bigger the sport, the less important the Olympic Games are to that sport. Michael Jordan has an Olympic gold medal, but it means far less to him than his 6 NBA championships and his multiple MVP awards. Has figure skating reached this level of popularity yet?

    In the olden days, the big people in the sport were the Olympic champions: Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton, Katarina Witt, Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi. Today Michelle Kwan has a larger and more loyal and boisterous fan base than Sarah Hughes, Tara Lipinski and Oksana Baiul put together. Is this evidence that figure skating has outgrown its dependence on the Olympics?

    Mathman

  7. #7
    RealtorGal
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    <span style="colorurple;font-family:comic sans ms;font-size:small;">Michelle is more popular BECAUSE she didn't win the gold medal at either Olympics. Had she won in Nagano, she would not be as popular as she is today.</span>

  8. #8
    Joesitz
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    Mathman - I doubt this thread will continue with the question you posed. It will go on and on about how figure skating results will cause the entire Olympics to fold.:lol:

    There will be no discussion of the Olympic sports versus the World Championships of those sports.

    Certain sports do get a boost from the Olys: Track, Field Events; Diving; Swimming, Equestrian Events; Ice Hockey, Slalom skiing; Speed skating, etc. Their World events are not big on TV although if one is astute and if one is interested, they can be seen. ESPN does play a role here.

    As for figure skating, I think it will remain the same as the highlight of the Olys but with much less interest than hitherto.
    I do, however, see the large numbers of Oly watchers as being less. And yes, baseball, football (American), football (European), golf, tennis do not need the Olys.

    Let's see what happens in Athens.

    Joe

  9. #9
    nymkfan51
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    Mathman ... to more clearly answer your question, no ... I don't think figure skating will ever be in the same league with the so called "big" sports. There is just not enough interest there. (except with women) I doubt the majority of the male population will ever have any real use for it. So I guess the Olympics will always be the World Series, Superbowl, etc. for skating.

    RealtorGal ... the OGM being diminished was MY opinion only. I should have been clearer on that point. It has not a thing to do with any other OGM ... they were all wonderful in their own right. This was just my feeling with regards to Michelle.

  10. #10
    tdnuva
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    Two different points I'm thinking about....

    First of all the Olympics are more than just a high-level event. The idea behind the Olympics since 1896 was different. And I think especially for the not-top-scorers this idea will still be there, no matter which discipline.

    Thinking about figure skating I wonder if the "value" of an OMG might become lower cause the skaters are somehow already part of a kind of pro world during their eligible career and obviously don't need that medal that much to improve their financial standing.


  11. #11
    mathman444
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    RealtorGal, it was that very point that got me to thinking about this in the first place. Michelle became more popular for NOT winning the Olympic gold medal than she would have been if she HAD won it. If she had won in Nagano, she might have been remembered as just another Olympic winner.

    tdnuva's point is well taken, too. During the first half of the twentieth century the idea of "amateurism" was firmly entrenched in the European class system. The nobility did not do anything for -- ugh! -- monetary recompense. Moreover, for the noble amateurs to compete with the common professionals would be to mingle the classes. On top of that, "specializing" in any one sport or activity was regarded as low class -- the sort of thing that you had to do if you worked for a living.

    Now that idea has been turned upside down. Nothing is regarded as worth doing UNLESS it brings in the big bucks.

    Mathman

  12. #12
    tdnuva
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    <blockquote style="padding-left:0.5em; margin-left:0; margin-right:0; margin-top:0; margin-bottom:0; border-left:solid 2">During the first half of the twentieth century the idea of "amateurism" was firmly entrenched in the European class system.</blockquote>

    Well I didn't think that far to the past. I just compared e.g. the Olympic drama around Janet Lynn vs. Beatrix Schuba or the triumph of Torvill & Dean, Kati Witt and Scott Hamilton in 84. Those events really mattered to the skaters, they changed their life more or less. This still is true in a way for Sarah Hughes 02 but when I think about Anissina & Peizerat I really wonder if winning gold or silver would have changed much. Same with thinking into the future. I have the impression that the skaters now don't really *want* the olympic gold they seem to rather calculate "cooly" if it's sensible to do more shows in the next year or compete in the eligible events.

    Of course I might be wrong with my guesses about skater's wishes and feelings. ;-)

  13. #13
    JHarland55
    Guest

    Re: Has the Olympics lost its cachet?


    I am not sure about if the Olympics has lost it cachet. As far it being a competitions for amateur athletes no. There seems to be more pro's, ie/ hockey, basketball.
    What about the cost cities and countries spend for what two weeks. Building new arenas that most never seem to get used much after the Olympics.

  14. #14
    sk8tngcanuck
    Guest

    olympics


    Joe,
    " So I believe we need the Olys for such sports as kayacking and pushing that thing along the ice (like shuffleboard,forgot the name)."

    That sport would be called Curling, and it is enormously popular here in Canada.



  15. #15
    Jaana
    Guest

    Re: Olympics


    Compared for example to a sport like tennis, figure skating is in a very different position. Figure skating has been historically a long time in Olympics and altogether there are only a few "big" international figure skating competitions (Olympics, Worlds, Europeans, Four Continents and GP Finals). And actually from these few, only the Olympics and Worlds are open for skaters from all countries to participate, so to speak.

    Yes, for tennis I would definetely say that Wimbledon is in the position of the Olympics. Tennisplayers compete in all kinds of competition through the whole year (at least it seems to be so), and the important yearly tournaments are US Open, French Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon, which is the most important of them all. For a tennisplayer who has won everything else but not Wimbledon, it is the same matter as for a figure skater having won everything else but not the Olympic gold medal. It is not a matter of money in these days or how big fandoms some skaters may have without an Olympic win, it is a matter of that very extra special glory of having won the most important competition there is in one´s own sport. And of course there is also the glory of being one of the athletes who have been able to win for one´s own country one more Olympic gold medal.

    I would think that most, if not every sport, has a competition which is seen as the most important one in that sport? Anyway, for some sports it is the Olympics and for some sports some other competition. For figure skating it is the Olympics, and from that reason I believe that figure skating in Olympics continues playing a big and important traditional role.

    Marjaana

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