Monday, August 22, 2016

Why it is hard to be a fan of the Olympic Games

Despite criticisms, the Rio Olympic Games just ended with a huge success. The organizers, staff, athletes, coaches, volunteers, media and tourists will all take a break and will celebrate the success of the games. However, there is one segment of the society who will be the saddest as the games end.

The FANS of the Olympic Games.

I was excited to watch the games for the first time as a fan, hoping to sit on a couch and watch the games all day (and not training for 8 hours each day). However, the last two weeks, I ended up working and going to classes each day. Thanks to NBC, I was able to stream the games live. All day, I had a tab on with NBC streaming the games live; I would sneak in once in a while.

Each evening from 10pm – 1am, I would watch the highlights, catch up on all the tweets and Snapchat stories from Rio. I was not the happiest fan, because I missed a lot of LIVE action.

Everyone said I had become anti-social. Thus, I decided to watch the finals of the women’s singles Table Tennis competition between Ding Ning and Li Xiaxoi over dinner with friends. I was supporting Ding Ning, my favorite female table tennis athlete. I didn’t care while I jumped to cheer and pumped my fists when she won a point. I didn’t care if people around me wondered if I had springs beneath me, all I cared was to cheer as loud as I can each time Ding Ning won a point.

One of my friends, who is an American football fanatic, interrupted, “Neha, I need to confess something, I am NOT a fan of the Olympics”

Not surprised, I still asked him why.

He honestly replied, “Well I love watching volleyball and handball but I hardly get to see any games on the TV or online. Even on social and digital channels, I hardly see any coverage. Its hard to be a fan, I don’t have any stars to follow. Well, Olympics are once in 4 years, what am I supposed to do with the rest of the days? With football, I can watch numerous games every week for half a year, follow my favorite athletes easily and be a loyal fan!”

I knew this was coming. I smiled and gave an empathetic nod and got back to cheering and jumping each time Ding Ning won a point.

5 days back as I watched Sindhu winning the semi final in women’s singles badminton competition, I recorded the final point and her celebrations after and tweeted it to my followers so that they can enjoy the moment again and again. Within 2 hours, I received an email from Twitter that my tweet was taken down as it violated the copyright policies of the IOC. Only the IOC and NBC hold official rights to stream the games and share video content on their social and digital platforms

Description of my tweet: The copyrighted work at issue is a televised broadcast (where a user is taking video of a television or other screen) of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Description of infringement: Unauthorized broadcast of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The Tweet that violated IOC's copyright policies.

The fan in me was hurt a little.

Thus, let’s get it real, it IS hard to be a fan of any of the Olympic sports. Having experiencing the sporting scene in both India and USA, I am not hesitant to claim that this issue exists in all countries.

The cause?
  • The games are once in 4 years: The fans are pumped up ONLY for 2 weeks every 4 years to enjoy the spirit of the games. Thus, conversations about the games in person and on social media is limited. Recent TV Viewership numbers from Rio show that, in comparison to London, there has been a 30% drop in that number of TV viewers of ages between 18 and 34.
  •  Minimum TV coverage during rest of the days: We hardly see our favorite Olympic athletes on TV competing. Thus, its almost impossible to follow your favorite Olympic athlete unless you use OTT services or stalk your favorite athlete on social media.
  •  Strict rules regarding Olympic sponsorship (Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter): Corporates are inclined towards non Olympic events and there is comparatively little marketing and advertising for Olympic sports/athletes.
  •  Olympic sports are not our country’s favorite pastime. Its either cricket (India) or baseball/football (USA) or EPL/ La Liga/Bundesliga (Europe) as these events are televised on a nearly daily basis.
All these factors are a part of a vicious circle.

For the athletes, the Olympics Games are every single day. But, for the fans...?

We get to see a Stephen Curry play every week, a Virat Kohli bat every two weeks, a Liverpool game and sing YNWA every other week. We DON’T get to see the Bolts, the Phelps, the Biles, the Dipas and the Sindhus shine on TV screens each time they compete, we see them only ONCE in 4 years.

As the games come to an end, I will take a few days to get over the “Olympic hangover”. I will go back watching Sindhu’s interviews, Sakshi’s final bout, Dipa’s purdonova and Phelp’s numerous races. I will go back watching the endless content on every social media platform until I have covered all.

However, this will end in a month’s time.


The wait for next Olympics games will begin.

4 years to go! See you in Tokyo 2020!

1 comment:

  1. Very Interesting but at the same time you have no idea as why you don't see them . Your profile says you are an ex Olympic athlete which makes it absolute bonkers that you actually wrote this article .

    I have worked in 2 Youth Olympics and returned yesterday from Rio after working for 4 months with LOC as Venue Media Manager for Hockey .

    It looks to you it's very difficult to follow your stars and leagues but the real reason is that broadcaster in your country dont buy rights to any other sport except cricket and football .

    Go to China And tell me you can't see LIVE Table Tennis And badminton on CCTV and Xinhua dint cover it . Go to Japan and tell me Kyodo dint cover Gymnastics. Go to France and tell me if AFP dint cover cycling and fencing ,etc,etc .

    Handball is absolute insane in Europe . Go to Brazil once and watch people going crazy in bar during Volleyball match .

    Star sports in India has started showing different sports as now they have 6 channels .

    Marketing of Olympic athletes is massive . Check the deal of OMEGA with Phelps and just go through how much did Ryan Lochte lost in sponsorship .

    Your tweet was blocked because nobody has the right to record LIVE unless you are Rights holder . You are lucky you did it from your house, if you were a journalist from ENR or non right holder side in stadium and was caught for the same , you would have been asked to leave the stadium And your accreditation would have been either cancelled or blocked for few days .

    I am amazed that you being an Olympic athlete saying you are not fan of it . Maybe someday I get to meet and explain you in better way but as of now , this article seems to be emotional distress than factual . No disrespect at all as you wrote what you felt but you should have researched more .

    Good luck with your sports management degree .