Has America moved on from the Olympics?

From one of the most hyped sporting events to just another streaming service…what happened?

The Olympics used to be surrounded with lofty excitement, as a new catchy Olympic theme song would blast across radio airwaves and advertisements featuring Olympic stars could be seen throughout cable television. Nowadays, the Olympics essentially serve as benchwarmers to an America with other priorities. It’s difficult to simply find people aware of any athletes participating, or even the fact that the Olympics are happening. 

This winter, competition is not bound to the Olympic village, as the Olympics compete against the Super Bowl and NBA for attention and coverage. This holds especially true in 2022, as the Olympics are again held on the opposite side of the globe. For Americans, viewing a sporting event in China certainly isn’t ideal. With the prestigious Opening Ceremonies held at 7 a.m. eastern time and the majority of events occurring in late hours of the night or in wee morning hours, the majority of Americans are simply unable to tune in. 

Following a catastrophic broadcasting of the 2021 Tokyo Games, where similar viewing issues occured due to the games taking place in Beijing, NBC is asking Americans for a second chance as they drastically transfer their Olympics coverage for the 2022 competition to Peacock, NBC’s streaming service. The platform struggled to reach its potential last summer, as viewers complained of a lack of access to competition coverage. Now, Olympic events are available to Americans on Peacock plus for just $4.99 a month, which one can easily cancel following the conclusion of the games. Peacock currently lags behind competitors in terms of subscriber numbers and NBC hopes its Olympics coverage will spur the platform’s growth. 

The cable exodus may stimulate this growth, as cord-cutting Americans look for other ways to view the Olympics. Almost half of America doesn’t have cable, according to a March 2021 Pew Research study. However, because America is in the midst of its transition to streaming, the Olympics have the potential to become more accessible, and in turn increase viewership, by the time they return for 2024. 

 For years the Olympics served as a global event that somehow managed to bring nations together while also placing them against each other through the realm of competitive sports. However, a lack of American patriotism may have deteriorated Olympic support. An Axios poll, taken prior to the 2016 Tokyo games, displays that only 39 percent of Americans feel positive when seeing the American flag displayed at the Olympics. The same age group is more likely to support athletes taking stands on social justice issues. It’s possible that as American public opinion improves, support for the Olympics increases. However, this may not be possible for a number of Olympics.  

Another essential Olympic component is the stars. New global celebrities are born, cultures spread, and countries made proud. In the months and even years leading up to the Olympics, ads could historically be seen broadcasted and plastered everywhere. However, this year it feels as if those same ads were nowhere.

Americans remember watching passionately as stars such as Shaun White, Lindsay Vonn, and Red Gerard competed in the 2018 games and Olympics prior. That competition also saw the emergence of Chloe Kim, currently one of the few recognizable Americans competing in Beijing. 

Now, as the Olympic torch is being passed down to younger generations of Americans, we are simply failing our country in displaying our pride to the world. It’s difficult to support the star athletes of your country when they aren’t even being displayed for the entire nation to see. The fact that it takes effort and money nowadays to watch our fellow Americans compete for the pride and glory of gold medals against the rest of the world is beyond problematic. Our broadcasting stations are failing us… it’s time to sort this mess out.