The games of summer
Decades ago I was a sportswriter. I loved it.
Summer, however, was a challenge. Basically, in those days, you had baseball, baseball, some more baseball, baseball, and a little softball thrown in for variety. Make no mistake, baseball is a fine game. It is a joy of summer, but too much of anything can tilt your demeanor, if you know what I mean.
When I was a sportswriter, I came to specialize in the sports that other writers avoided. Soccer, cross-country running, skating, bowling, to name a few among a fairly long list. My colleagues called these activities minor sports. A term that I hated then and still loathe now. At the risk of over generalizing, sportswriters tend to focus on baseball, football and basketball. For many sports types, most everything else falls into that pesky minor sport category.
Thirty years later I still feel a little traumatized in the summer by the sheer profusion of baseball. The fantastic news is that there is a profusion of other sports to enjoy as well. There is tennis with Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. There is always golf. This week we have the British Open, which always offers some otherworldly golf course to admire. There is bicycling with the conclusion of the three-week-long Tour de France, which is for my money among the most dramatic and impressive sporting events of each year.
And this year, we have the Olympics.
Will you be watching the 2012 London Olympics? With about 200 nations participating, NBC will be covering 302 events in 26 sports. In that circumstance, avoiding the Olympics will be, well, an Olympian task. The promotional ads say that 3,500 hours of coverage will be available online. Thatís a big number. Thatís almost 146 days of coverage crammed into 16 days of events.
London has not hosted this event since 1948 and there are a lot of worries about security and the ancient infrastructure of that city. You can practically hear the city creaking from here.
I donít know how much of it I will watch. My work schedule (being a little weird) should be favorable for watching events live. London is six hours ahead of us here in the central time zone, so prime time for live viewing will probably be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or so. That makes it more likely that I will be able to watch some of the events during the day. Primetime viewing? Not so much.
What I most enjoy about the Olympics is seeing the spotlight on the lesser-known sports. These are events you donít generally see anywhere else. Badminton, for example, is always amazing, highlighting the speed and finesse of the players and those funky little rackets. Thereís the drama of weightlifting, the equestrian events, and track and field, with its quadrennial moment in the sun. But thereís also rowing, canoeing, archery, cycling, diving, fencing and water polo. Some of my old sportswriter colleagues might call it a minor sports paradise.
Will you be interested in the London Olympics when they begin Friday, July 27? What sports will be of interest to you? How much of the television presentation will you try to watch?
Please share your opinions with us.
Follow Shawn Sensiba on Twitter @shawnsensiba.