Olympics Abroad

February 17, 2014

in England, Europe, Katherine Jensen, Spring 2014

So I’m sure as many of you have been doing, we’ve been watching a lot of Olympics in our flat the past week or two. It’s almost the solely thing on to be completely honest. I think many of us haven’t watched anything but the Olympics and the new season of House of Cards unless we had to for media class. However, no in Britain quite understands this, as they are not so big on the winter Olympics. This probably has to do with the fact that they’re not very good at them. Nothing explains this better than the fun fact that this year a snowboarder won Britain’s first medal on snow. In case you’re wondering, this means that from 1924 (the first winter Olympics) to 2014 Britain did not win an Olympic medal on snow. So, I suppose it’s understandable they’re not big on this.

Still, the BBC has a lot of coverage and you could watch some sort of Olympic programming close to 24/7. What they cover a lot is curling. They absolutely adore curling because they’re good at it (apparently). They love curling so much, they had a whole day dedicated to it and it had its own hashtag (#lovecurling in case you want to look it up). So, we’ve been watching a lot of a sport that no one understands. And even after the large amount of curling I’ve watched, I still don’t understand it. Every time I think they’ve got a great shot off, the commentators instantly tell me how rubbish the shot actually was. Needless to say, none of us have caught the British curling fever and we will now hope for anything, but curling to be on. Luckily BBC has about four different channels that could be playing the Olympics at any given time. Still, I think we’re all excited to be back for the next Olympics where we’ll see significantly less curling and more US athletes.

One of things I will miss about watching the Olympics here are the commentators. For one, they are clearly biased. When anything remotely good happens for the British, they go absolutely bonkers. The only thing to compare it to is when someone scores a goal in soccer and the commentator screams “goal” for about a minute. It’s on that level. When there are no British in the event, they’re mostly just entertaining, but the level depends on the sport. Snowboarding has got to be the most entertaining. Not to say it’s not expert-level, but they add so much color commentary that it’s hard to focus on anything else, which is completely fine with me. Another plus has been that we’re about six hours closer to Russia than the US is, so the timing for the games has been a lot easier for us. For example, we didn’t have to get out of bed at 6 to watch the US v. Russia hockey game. For us, we could just make lunch and eat it while being fully rested. A random side note about hockey (which they call “ice hockey”), one of the commentators just said, “If you’ve never watched ice hockey before…” This is just an example of the difference between sports cultures. Pretty sure no commentator in the US would ever have to say that.

Overall, it just seems like not as big of a deal over here. It’s still on, but I’m not sure a lot of people watch it, at least not the one’s we’ve been talking to. There aren’t Union Jacks everywhere and Olympic gear for sale that we’ve been able to find. We’re pretty lucky, though, that they’ve been covering the US pretty well, at least with the bigger stuff. And don’t worry, we’ve been compensating for the lack of American pride here in the UK.

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