On being an Olympic sports fan (three weeks late…)

Editors note – this has nothing to do with the Charlotte Checkers.  And although this is supposed to be a Checkers-focused site, they’ve been gone for what seems like forever, and I’ve barely had time to focus on anything but work in the past month.  But if you want to read weird ramblings about my love of the Olympics weeks after the most recent games ended, read on!

I know it’s been weeks since the 2014 Sochi Olympics ended, but I’m still kind of obsessed by them and in an Olympic hangover.  I planned to write about them throughout the games, but I was too busy watching the events and not getting nearly enough sleep to do any writing.

You see, my very very favorite sport, in ways much more extreme than my love of hockey, is the Sport of the Olympics.  I used a capital S there because to me, the Olympics is the very definition of what a sport should be.  It’s athleticism that rivals no other.  Patriotism.  Pride. Passion. It’s the only time where (for the most part) all differences can be set aside – political, social, and economic  – and the athletes on the field (or ice, or ski slope etc.) are equals.

My master’s degree concentration was in a broad sense, sports communication, but more specifically, the culture of sport. I wrote feminist papers analyzing the language of sport when speaking about women athletes. I wrote a paper about subcultures of sport, and communities of sports fans. I read a lot of great studies and papers on these topics, and continue to be fascinated by them. They have truly impacted the kind of sports fan I am.

So when I watched the most recent Olympics, I saw more than the stories that NBC constructed during their prime time and wins and losses by the American hockey teams.  I saw years of academic study coming to life on my TV.  And everything about the way the Sochi winter games affected me cemented all of the things I feel about being a fan of sports.

I love the community I experienced during the Sochi games. I got angry and ranted on facebook and Twitter with friends about the sexist commentary by Todd Richards during the women’s snowboarding events. I sat in a bar with a bunch of people I didn’t know, and we cheered together for the US men’s  hockey team. I shed a few tears alongside the amazing, strong, fierce women of the American hockey team when they lost in the gold medal game. I shed a few more when I watched the powerful story about the city of Yaroslavl and their loss of the Lokomotiv KHL team to a plane crash a few years ago. But through the tears, and the cheers, and the celebrations, I felt closer to my fellow citizens of this great country, and loved the feeling of pride we shared as we watched our athletes compete.

To me, that is the Olympics. It’s one of the greatest unifying events in our country. And I cried a few times during the closing ceremonies, knowing that the Sochi games were over, but knowing just as every Olympic games I can remember, will be filled with long lasting memories.

In case you were wondering, there are 816 days until the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.  Rumor has it the Winter games could return to one of a number of sites in the USA in 2026, and my best friend and I are planning a trip already.  It’s never too early to prepare, right?


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