How the media focuses on Olympic athletes rather than sports

By: Hannah Bruneman

With the 2014 Winter Games underway in Sochi, it is near impossible to come across an internet home page or newspaper that isn’t riddled in Olympic news.  Nearly every main news source around the world has sent reporters to the Olympic village to capture the athletes in their prime. However, it’s not always the sports that take center stage.

The Olympics thrive on the stories and gossip that surround the athletes. Each year, there seems to be a new “America’s Sweetheart” or story of an underdog who overcame so much. Our obsession with the athletes may be blinding us of what the Olympics are really about; the best of the best coming together to show the world what they can do.

For example, the top story on the Yahoo Sochi Coverage page is about the secret relationship between figure skaters Charlie White and Tanith Belbin. The article romanticizes the idea of the two keeping their relationship hidden from the public. The reporter even questions White on the chemistry between himself and his skating partner on the ice; something that really is just part of their job.

There are also a number of Olympians on Twitter who provide us with an inside view of the games. Iowa-native and two-sport Olympian Lolo Jones has over 383,000 followers hoping to get a look into her busy life. Many of the athletes use Twitter to congratulate their teammates or to talk about the experiences they are having in a new country.

What do you think about the media coverage during the Olympics? Does it take away from the competitive nature, or does it add another dimension of personality to our team?

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4 responses to “How the media focuses on Olympic athletes rather than sports

  1. I think this coverage adds another dimension of personality to our team. There can be some slow points in the games and to hear about the Olympians’ lives and thoughts towards the games can reengage me. Personally, I don’t know too much about our team and the only information I get is from watching those back stories during the games.

  2. Great point! Now that I think about it, without any coverage on the athletes, we would be cheering for people just because they wear USA on their sleeve. But knowing their stories may give us a reason to want them to win, which brings us closer as a country.

  3. I love the stories on the Olympians! Particularly with the winter games, there are a lot of sports that we don’t normally follow and are less than thrilling–curling, cross-country skiing and the biathalon to name a few. Yet each year I find myself watching hours upon hours of this type of coverage. Hearing the stories gives me someone to root for. I can watch an hour long cross country ski race if I know the stories of the various athletes. It makes an event that may not be thrilling on its own interesting.

  4. I have found it interesting how the Olympics this year seem so much more “relaxed” for lack of a better term. A lot of the Olympians seem to be under less stress and pressure and just seeing the Olympics as yet an other competition. I wonder if that has anything to do with the evolution of social and mass media? In a way, the fact that we can follow Olympians on Twitter or Instagram sort of demystifies them. They become human, people just like us who happen to have incredible talent and drive. I don’t think it takes away from their talent or from the sport so much as it brings as more realistic, human dimension to the Olympics. Fascinating!

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