The 2010 Winter Olympic Games kick-off tonight with the opening ceremony. This year’s big Olympic story though isn’t so much the athletes, but the snow. The lack of snow I should say. They are having to use machines to turn water into snow and are even trucking some snow into the area. These efforts go against Vancouver’s focus on being greenest Olympics . At any rate, the show must go on, and it will tonight.
The excitement surrounding the Olympics has stuck with me from childhood. That was back in the day when the Summer and Winter Olympics happened in the same year. The anticipation was more built up, or so it seemed, and the excitement lasted throughout the year. For me honestly I think the excitement was built more around the almost guarantee of something to watch on TV. We had no cable so this was a huge bonus.
Starting with the 1984 Summer Olympics, the Summer and Winter Games started taking place two years apart, instead of in the same year. Though what I most remember about the 1984 Summer Olympics were the Big Macs. McDonald’s was sponsoring the 1984 Olympic Games and ran a contest “When the US Wins, You Win!”. As I recall, each time you made a purchase they gave you scratch off card with a gold, silver and bronze medal. I think the card specified an event; you would scratch the medal the U.S. won in that event to reveal the prize. The gold won you a Big Mac, the others won you an order of fries or a drink. Well it just so happened that the U.S. dominated these games and won gold in the majority of the events. This was mostly due to the fact that the Soviet Union, Cuba and East Germany boycotted the Games in return for the American-led boycott in the 1980 Summer Olympics.
We had a friend who worked at McDonald’s who supplied us with never ending stack of cards. Needless to say, I think I ate McDonald’s, Big Macs specifically, no fewer than twice a day. Those were the days when playing field hockey for a few hours a day, running, swimming, walking or biking everywhere, and having a 15 year-old’s metabolism allowed me to eat this crap with no visible signs of damage. We even rounded out most of the evenings with a hot fudge turtle sundae from the local ice cream parlor. I can honestly say I have not had a Big Mac since that Summer, I still do have a thing for the sundae though.
Another fond Olympics memory was the 2000 Summer Olympics. This along with Anderson Cooper on World News Now at 2 a.m., got me through late night feedings with my daughter. Again, during the Olympics you are almost always guaranteed to have something to watch on TV at any time day or night, cable or no cable.
I still love watching the Olympics, even sports I would never normally watch are exciting. I love hearing the athlete’s stories. I love cheering for the underdog, regardless of the Country they represent. We won’t be home for the opening games tonight, but we are going to tape them to watch later, good fun family TV. Sure beats watching Spider-man for the 800th time.