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Watching the Olympics

We are not boycotting the Olympics.  I know a lot of people are for various reasons, and I fully support that move if it feels right to you.  Despite Russia’s war on LGBT rights, we are watching the Olympics.  Not watching them on NBC affects NBC and the athletes more than it affects Russia itself.  Russia, in the case of my viewing, is unreachable in terms of a boycott.  So we sat through the opening ceremony last night, cheering on the US team and the Israeli team.  And the Wolvog and ChickieNob decided they would cheer along any team with a low number of participants in order to help them feel welcome.  So we were cheering on Jamaica and Andorra from our bed.

It is an odd Olympics because it feels so fraught.  Beyond the anti-LGBT laws, there is this looming threat of violence that makes me keep skittishly picking up my phone to check for a CNN alert.  There was such a strange tension watching the opening ceremony; feeling like we were all holding our breath while those women walked ahead of the athletes in their strange cage-like outfits, holding the name of the country.

On average, a person will get maybe 20 Winter Olympics in their lifetime, and that’s only if they reach old age.  They won’t remember the first one or two.  They may not be fully cognizant of the last one or two.  They’ll miss a year here or there due to travel or work or children being born.  So maybe they get 15 chances to consciously watch this.  And then we’re off this earth.  And the next generation gets their 15 chances.

Sochi is one where the twins and I overlap.  Where they are seeing one of their 15, and I’m seeing one of my 15.  So it felt heavy last night, holding onto this moment in history together, knowing how painful this particular space is for so many people, knowing how loved this particular space is for so many people.  And feeling caught in between it all, caged, because we feel as if we can’t miss it and look away.

We’ll be watching again from 8 pm to 11 pm tonight. (The whole schedule is here if you need a printable version.)  Maybe you’ll be watching the same events too.  Because that is the flip side of the divisive nature of these particular Olympics; there is also the idea of us coming together, watching the very same thing, cheering on the very same people at the very same time.  Peace in whichever route you take.


1 Rachel { 02.08.14 at 3:43 pm }

I’m watching them for the same reasons…not because I agree with what’s happening in Russia, because I don’t, but because it’s certainly not the athletes fault. I feel like it’s unfair to let them suffer for Russia’s mistakes when they have worked their whole lives to get their chance in the Olympics. One of my old coworkers is an Olympic Swimmer and seeing how hard he worked, and what he sacrificed to get the Olympics – how cruel to have that all be in vain because the Country hosting the Olympics is spreading hate messages.

2 Erica { 02.08.14 at 6:01 pm }

I just read an article that the man responsible for the ring mishap at opening ceremonies was found dead. Beyond disturbing.

3 a { 02.08.14 at 7:51 pm }

I continue to marvel at your ability to make any moment into something historical. ‘Round here, we just call it watching TV (and supporting our athletes). 🙂

4 Kimberly { 02.08.14 at 8:30 pm }

I’m not comfortable with the Olympics in Russia but I’m still watching to support my country. I had mixed feelings through the opening ceremonies but I’ve spent all of today cheering on the Canadian athletes into 3 medals and the great finishes by the others. I don’t like NBC’s coverage of the Olympics so I follow CBC and their well rounded coverage of the Olympics as a whole, but that’s just my preference. I feel bad for my friends on social media because I get bad when it comes to hockey and curling, and now that I think of it, speed skating, bobsled, figure skating and anything involving skis or snowboards. I can’t help it, I’m a bit of an Olympics junkie and much prefer the winter ones to the summer ones.

5 loribeth { 02.08.14 at 11:00 pm }

@Erica, my understanding is that story is a hoax.

I am with Kimberly… I am a bit of a sucker for the Olympics (& I too much prefer our CBC coverage to NBC), & especially I love the Winter Olympics. I took figure skating lessons for several years when I was growing up — my parents curled — and being Canadian, you are pretty much guaranteed to be immersed in hockey culture to at least some extent. (Thus, I was thrilled to see both Vladislav Tretiak & Irina Rodnina — both legendary Soviet athletes from the 1970s that I remember well — lighting the flame at the opening ceremonies!) My first Olympic memories are of watching Karen Magnussen & Janet Lynn in the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, & I have followed figure skating ever since then.

There is certainly a lot about these Olympics to protest (and to worry about)… but at the same time, it’s not the athletes’ faults. @Rachel, when I first started working in the mid-1980s, one of my coworkers was a Canadian champion swimmer who was supposed to have gone to the Olympics in Moscow in 1980. He wound up staying home when Canada & the U.S., among other countries, boycotted those games. And never got a chance to go again.

6 Jess { 02.09.14 at 3:21 pm }

@Erica- that story was from a “joke”/ onion like site. Thank goodness.

I am 100% in agreement, Mel. Putin is not going to analyze our TV viewership. I like to watch to support athletes and the equality that the Olympics can briefly bring to the world.

7 Mia { 02.12.14 at 9:29 pm }

I also agree about watching. Due to last week’s ice storm (in the NE) our cable was out until this morning and I was so upset to miss so much of the action.

8 magpie { 02.13.14 at 10:17 pm }

i love the olympics and i hate NBC.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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