Why do we watch the Winter Olympics?

By John Toth
The Bulletin

Guess what’s coming to dinner – and breakfast and lunch? It’s the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
The Olympics will stay for 17 days before leaving for a couple of years and then returning as the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Starting this Friday, Feb. 12, the Olympics will invade many of our homes because no matter how much we say we’re not interested in luge, hockey, bobsledding and skeleton, many of us will still watch the games -- a lot.
NBC knows that we don’t really care about most of the winter contests. We’re not a winter sport type country for the most part. We don’t go crazy over all that skiing stuff, and many of us don’t see the purpose of getting out in freezing weather and sliding around, unless it’s done in a stadium with a football on the field.
NBC knows this, and has learned to package the games to get our attention. So, there will be a lot of human interest stuff that will thrill us or break our heart, or just interest us enough in general to keep watching – much like a soap opera.
I start out thinking that I’ll just watch snippets here and there, and then I get stuck on the daily features, drama and the excitement.
I’m not the type of viewer that NBC has to worry about, though. Since I was born in the European country of Hungary, I have a background in watching various winter sporting events more than once every four years.
I remember watching the Hungarian team not do so well in the 1964 Olympics. I think it was 1964, as I write this from memory. There, I googled it. It was in 1964, in Austria. Google should not even be a verb, but I did it, anyway.
I was watching it on a small black-and-white Russian-made television set that stayed broken most of the time. That’s the only type of TV we could buy at the time in a Soviet bloc country. I think we could have built our own from scrap metal and wood, and t would have worked longer than that piece of junk.
Anyway, we actually had a satellite feed for a few minutes, and I was amazed how I could watch those people from another country in the discomfort of my run-down, cold room. Maybe that was the problem. The TV was too cold. All those vacuum tubes weren’t kicking in as they should have.
I was 8 years old, and don’t remember anything about that particular Olympics, except that the TV broke after the first week. BTW: Austria is a five-hour train ride from Budapest, Hungary, where I was born, but at the time, it seemed really far away. Until two years later.
In 1966 my mother and I escaped to beautiful Vienna, Austria, where TVs worked a lot better. I saw my next Olympics right here in the United States in 1968, not understanding much of it because I just got here a year earlier.
That is enough reminiscing for now, though. Let’s get back to the 2010 Olympics. There is a slight problem with anyone getting too involved in the games this first weekend. It’s Valentine’s Day weekend, which means that if you stick your nose in the TV on Saturday and Sunday, you may be watching Olympics in the doghouse starting on Monday.
I hope you enjoy all the drama and excitement for the next couple of weeks like I do, and after the Olympics are over, we can go back to not caring much about bobsledding, curling and skeleton.
What is all of this? Just google it.