By this time during this seemingly never ending winter of snow, ice, slush and drifting, we feel that we should be hosting the Winter Olympics here in Reading rather than in the actual location in Russia. The Winter Olympics have never held my interest as much as the summer games. On my part, the primary reason for this favoritism is the fact that swimming, gymnastics, track and field, soccer and boxing are a major part of the Summer Olympics experience. One is more apt to view these sports on TV in non-Olympic years than Winter Olympic sports such as bobsled, luge, biathlon, speed skiing, curling and skeleton. We’re more familiar with the names of Summer Olympic athletes, even if they aren’t from the USA.
Swimmers, gymnasts, basketball players and track and field athletes, are given significant TV exposure in non-Olympic years. However, I must admit that the Winter Olympics have become more interesting and exciting in recent years with the addition of the dare-devil X-games, competitions made popular by such starts as the USA’s Shaun White. Events such as half pipe appeal especially to younger viewers, who tune in for the dangerous aspect of the sport. Skating, hockey and Alpine skiing are always popular sports, and, fittingly, they receive a lot of coverage on TV.
In addition, European athletes have grabbed more of the spotlight at the Winter Games by routinely winning more medals than the USA, especially of the silver and gold variety.
Young athletes in the USA are still more apt to gravitate to summer games’ sports such as basketball, swimming, tack and field and gymnasts, than to less popular winter game pursuits in which success is less likely to occur on the world stage. Such countries as Austria, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland do traditionally well in the Winter Games, but never achieve the same success in the Summer Games. We usually watch more of the Summer Olympics on TV because we understand the sports more and have followed said sports on a regular basis. Sadly, it seems we’re almost rooting for a skier or another athlete to wipe out and/or crash. Often the skills that Winter Olympic athletes posses aren’t appreciated by those casual observers of these games. Finally, the Summer Olympics sports are played by athletes who have grown up honing their skills before our very eyes. USA Winter Olympic hopefuls are not as visible as they prepare for the Olympics, the most important competition of their athletic lives.
Nils Groten is a resident of Berks County.