Quick. Name a Curler, or Luger, or Biathlete, or Bobsledder. Nothing? Now, name one player from this past week’s Super Bowl — yes, just one.
More of us than for any other televised event watched Seattle’s beat down of Denver to reign as the world’s best football team. But merely calling the Super Bowl a game pales its cultural significance. By intersecting entertainment with sport, there isn’t a rival for its pop appeal–its capacity to infatuate us is only matched by its capacity to infatuate all platforms of creative and media expression. One result is players with higher Q-scores than screen stars or world leaders.
Tomorrow, the Winter Olympics are going to open in Sochi, Russia with elite athletes in their own right drawn to their penultimate competition. In their own right because besides (snowboarder) Shaun White and some name recognizable NHLers competing for their home countries, Joe Q. Public is stumped to name another contestant, especially with (speed skater) Apolo Ohno retired and (downhill skier) Lindsey Vonn injured.
But thanks to extended coverage by NBC and their affiliates, we will be become fast friends with these world class, but not-on-TV athletes who ply their talent on ice and snow. From in-depth profiles we will learn of their dedication, sacrifice, and commitment to physical activity that mostly is done in obscurity, save the lone parent or family member waiting at the finish line to gather their competitor for the long drive home.
Hmm, sound familiar, (except competing at a world-class level)?
Even though you may not know their sports, and even though it might seem the opposite, you (already) know these not-on-TV athletes compared to the on-TV athletes you watched play the Super Bowl because the essence of your activity engagement is the same—self-supported, self-driven, and without outside recognition, toward the ideals of self improvement, self expression, and wellness.
Some will profit from the next two weeks with endorsement or sponsorship deals but more will compete in the fleeting spotlight, and then return to the anonymous training rigor that feeds their soul. Not to say professional football players love their sport less, but whereas we know about them, we really know their not-on-TV counterparts.
Let the Games begin, and every time you watch a luger, bobsledder, curler, biathlete, etc. receive their medal feel it going around your neck, too! That’s you up there…