Are you bleary-eyed?
Hiding your 3 p.m. yawning attack from your equally-bored colleagues, while trapped in the Zoom wasteland??
The answer to those questions can be determined by how much you are watching the Beijing Winter Olympics. NBC is trying to show a lot of stuff in prime-time, where they want your eyeballs, but it is a mixed bag. The best live moments have been having deep in the night, like 1-4 a.m., thanks to the 13-hour time difference between Beijing and the East Coast.
You weighed in pretty clearly to the Open Court about the start of these controversial Games - and thank you so much for the lively comments. Your thoughts on Open Court and its subject matter are always welcome.
You don’t want to watch the Beijing Games, stemming from the human rights issues and the ongoing global diplomatic issues with China. Zero intended offense to the athletes, but you’re at ‘No Thanks’ to this whole thing.
NBC’s ratings reflect your sentiments, down 43 percent for the Opening Ceremony and on track to being overall the lowest Olympic ratings in history.
Occupationally, I don’t get to check out of the Olympics or Paralympics. I’m watching and monitoring, because there is card-carrying sports writer stuff in effect. Even from a warm house, soft blankie and couch situation located 6,500 miles away from Beijing.
So here's some stuff I think you need to know about:
China’s Eileen Gu? Or not?
The Eileen Gu situation is getting verrrrrry interesting. Gu, the 18-year-old American from the Bay Area, is the hottest star so far in Beijing. Partially because she won the gold in Big Air, throwing down an insane double cork 1620 in her final run. But also because Gu is A) competing for China, thanks to her mom being from Beijing; B) a model; C) an incoming freshman to Stanford; D) and her SAT was sky-high (something NBC was crowing about. Congrats on your 1580.)
All of those things seem nice…except for the part of not knowing her true nationality. She switched from the U.S. to competing for Team China three years ago, a smart business move ahead of these games. Go get that endorsement money, in the world’s biggest market by population.
Okie dokie. Throw in that she loves both countries, but chose China to inspire future generations of girls to shred and dream big. Which is fine.
Could China’s superstar actually be...technically and legally...American - and then what? Hard to believe the U.S. Department of State and/or the Chinese do not know what her exact status is.
This is not going away, because she has two more events in Beijing. Stay tuned.
Let’s keep playing
The theme of the day, heading into the Team USA-Team Canada women’s ice hockey preliminary round match-up, was the not-original train that they are bad for the game. The canard that the USA and Canada are so ahead of the competition that nobody will ever catch up, and whiiiiiine about the other poor countries getting killed 8-0… or 12-1.
Yes, there is a gap between the best of North America and the rest of the world. The U.S. and Canada have been the only gold medalists since the Olympic women’s tournament started in 1998. But that’s true right now. We have seen from other women’s sports that things can change, thanks to the best opening doors to show other countries the way. Women’s soccer, softball and basketball, in particular within the Olympic space, have seen the U.S. be dominant - thanks to funding, talent and a head start. But as other countries get on board, find the will to throw some money into the national governing bodies, VOILA - women seem to suddenly get more talented. The American college sports system provides a ton of opportunity for female athletes around the world to improve their skills at the elite level.
Advocating to remove the sport from the Games, until the competition gets more depth is a destructive paradox. Why would any country throw money into developing a program if there was no showy end game - like the Olympics? We saw the psychological impact on softball when the Olympic pathway was taken away after 2008. The sport came back in 2020 Tokyo. And now will be gone again in Paris for the 2024 Games. (Another long discussion for another day. The host city/country can add and/or subtract things from their Olympic program.) Having the aspiration to compete at the highest level - which is the Olympics for most women's sports - leads to more funding and momentum.
You never get more by having less opportunity.
It’s a disrespectful slash to the American and Canadian women’s hockey teams, who have been fighting for their own governing bodies to treat them with more respect and funding. Their advocacy has led to change, with women going on strike, in several countries, to demand better conditions.
As much as we want to see female athletes as having the same opportunity and experience as the men…we know that’s not true. Yet. So why take opportunity away from a sport that is still growing?
(And can we quietly mention some of the baked-in misogyny in the Americans/Canadians are too good idiocy? I don’t remember hearing how the peak-era Golden State Warriors and New England Patriots were bad for their sports. Hmmm?)
By the way, the Canadians won, 4-2. The world did not end.
Hot off the press
As a sports writer, I am a massive student of the game inside the game - the word magic on deadline. There are so many good stories to be told, and as a journalist, you want to be the one to spin the tale and nail it on deadline. Some overwrite the story - bleccccch. Others leave their written putt inches short.
Eddie Pells of the Associated Press is one of the good ones, and he cooked up a corker (as the Aussies would say) of a narrative. The start of this piece (also called a lead - or lede - in journalism lingo) is a classic.
The rest of the piece is just as good. Check it out.
I'm curious...is there anything you have read or seen that has been good? Let me know - please share so we can check it out!
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👀 BTS video recco: The sing-a-long of the century. Where they destroy their own songs. As always, remember to turn on CC.