The Olympics provide an extraordinary opportunity for underprivileged athletes from across the globe to participate in a primary global event, one that celebrates competition and determination.
However, U.S. media coverage of these ancient games is focusing primarily on U.S. athletes alone and not on lesser-known Olympians from around the world. Many athletes from countries such as Kazakhstan, Nepal and Zimbabwe are represented in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the story of how they made it to Sochi from such disadvantaged beginnings must be fascinating!
But instead, we get tickers and graphics at every turn that emphasize national medal counts. The medal count is really rather predictable, as it’s a reflection of those countries’ wealth and investment into winter sports. It’s a story of powerful countries continuing to dominate.
Furthermore, the U.S. team isn’t performing very well lately, or at least to American standards. At press time, the U.S. is tied for the Netherlands with 20 overall medals. Sounds pretty good, right?
Well, in the 2010 Winter Olympics, the U.S. earned seven more than the runner up. In the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2008 Summer Olympics, the U.S. finished first by 10 and 18 medals, respectively.
Before the games even started, media outlets were focusing on the drama surrounding the location of the games in Sochi. There are many other important features of the Olympics that media outlets can be focusing on. How cool is it that a biathlete from Ukraine won a bronze medal in the country it once shared in the Soviet Union? On Saturday, Slovenia beat Slovakia in a major hockey upset, its first ever Olympic victory in the group stage.
“This is like a gold medal for us,” forward Bostjan Golicic said. “We didn’t expect that, but this is amazing for us. It’s history. It’s our first win in the Olympics.”
That is what the Olympics are about. The best stories are the ones at the bottom of the medal count, not the number at the top.