I love the Olympics.
The games begin this week in London and many other cities in England. Actually, they start two days before the opening ceremonies. Because there is so much soccer to be played all over the country (excuse me–it’s football to them), preliminary games begin two days before the opening ceremonies.
Regarding the opening ceremonies, the producers have been forced to slice about a half hour off of their production on Friday. The reason? Well, they want to make sure the spectators can get home before the public transportation shuts down for the night. Huh? This is the Olympics! It’s a once in a lifetime chance for most people to witness the opening ceremonies. You think they could keep the public transportation system open maybe a half hour longer?
But, I digress. I do love the Olympics. If you ever get the opportunity, go witness history. I was honored to work as a commentator for CBS/Westwood One Radio at the Sydney Games in 2000. It was one of the highlights of my broadcasting career. I never worked harder, but to be in that environment for three plus weeks was a blast. When I wasn’t working a 12 hour shift, I would sacrifice sleep to get to some of the venues. I loved watching swimming. (I was about 30 feet from an American relay team getting their gold medals as we watched the Stars and Stripes elevated on the center flag pole.) My credentials got me in any venue. I spent close up time watching track and field and basketball. The gymnastics are breathtaking. Olympic boxing is special. I watched the U.S. win gold in baseball.
I was breathing the same air, walking the same ground as many of the greatest athletes in the world.
I worked in the International Broadcast Center which housed every major broadcast network in the world. Looking back, what a terrorist target that would have been. There was security, but nothing like they will be seeing in London.
I will watch as much as I can. NBC says 302 events will be televised. I think I’ll skip Canoe Slalom, BMX Cycling, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Taekwondo and a few others. But I will spend more than the normal time in front of the big box.
I will enjoy seeing friend Bob Costas host the prime time broadcasts. No one has done it better. He is the best.
So, if you ever get the opportunity to watch the games in person–do so. There will be complaints about long lines, too much security, rude spectators. Possibly some anti-American sentiment. It is expensive. But, put up with it. It’ll be a lifetime memory. The is the Olympics, after all!