Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Olympics as an expat

After this twitter exchange with Alyssa, I was reminded about a post I intended to write (but didn't).  Seriously, how often does this happen??  Anyway...that post was/is about watching the Olympic Games as an expat.

 If I was an organized blogger, I'd schedule it around the time the Olympics start showing, but I'm not.  So, here it is:

I pride myself on not being an American that feels like "We are Americans.  We are the best.  No other country matters but us."  But, when it comes to the Olympic Games, I find myself being uber-American.  I want America to win all the medals.  I want the telecasts to show all the American events (especially when medals are involved).  But, if you live in another country, that doesn't happen.  Australians want to watch Australians.  Can you believe that?! 

Here's a few of the things that I discovered watching the Olympics while living in another country:

  • You know those little mini stories and bios that usually pull at your heartstrings that feature a personal story about athletes?  If you're in Australia, they're about Australian athletes.  Duh.
    This gif depicts the first ever gold medal won by an Australian, and it is a regular feature story.

  • You know those extremely entertaining sports that are the top priority for my viewing: gymnastics (Summer Olympics) and figure skating (Winter Olympics)?  Well, they aren't all that frequently shown here.  And when they are, they show the Australian competitors...who usually aren't medal contenders, so they don't often show the full coverage of gymnastics and figure skating.  I know.  It's a travesty.

  • I have more to say about this topic.  My most favorite Olympics viewing moments are watching gymnastics and figure skating.  I love the combination of artistry and athleticism.  I love watching the athlete perform a routine, then anxiously await the judges' score.  I like that this fills entire nights of excitement, thrills, and even spills.  I like that the commentators are often former medal winners and Olympians.  I don't get this here.  This is what I miss the most for my Olympic entertainment. 

  • The television coverage here highlights the Australian medal contenders and winners (understandably so).  Sometimes, Americans are in the events (particularly snowboarding in Winter and swimming in Summer).  I've lived here long enough to be happy for Australian winners, but I'll admit it, if they are competing against an American, I want the American to win gold, and the Australian to win silver.

  • Medal ceremonies...those times that an athlete has won a gold medal and he/she is standing on the podium with his/her hand over the heart and singing "The Star Spangled Banner"...and the viewer gets goosebumps as the camera zooms in on the parents in tears and the crowd waving American flags...nope, you don't see that here. 

  • Yes, when something monumental takes place, like beating a World Record or Michael Phelps being awarded the medal that makes him the recipients of the most medals of any Summer Olympian, it's just good journalism for that to be televised.  And, it is.  But, you don't get all the stories and interviews and feel-good American hoopla surrounding it (when you don't live in America).

  • BIG events, like the "world's fastest man" or the 4x100m swimming relay are televised live.  But, living in a land with a timezone that rarely comes close to any timezone that the event is taking place, often the result gets "spoiled" by the time I watch it.  Unless I avoid all social media, news commentary, and turn off all alerts on my phone, I get spoilers.

     Do you watch the Olympics?  What's your favorite part of the Games to watch?


  1. oh. girl. don't even get me started on this... the swimming, sister. and it's not just because i like seeing all those naked backs coming out of the water during butterfly. it's the sound those eight swimmers make coming off the blocks in a freestyle event just before they enter the water. it's the memory of watching the four by two hundred freestyle relay in athens... (THIS ONE, yall: https://youtu.be/-1pODg-IHIA) the ones the australians were supposed to win but didn't. i remember jumping up and down on my coffee table watching that relay. one of the best ones ever.

    and then in the last one... brendan hansen who's been an olympic swimmer since we were in high school, i think, who was supposed to lose to kitajima in his breast stroke event but didn't... because the man's a damned god.

    and our swim team in the last one? best one ever. EVER.

    1. HAH! i found it! every now and then i go searching for the one hundred meter breaststroke event in which hansen, who has the worst time of the eight of them, ends up winning a bronze, beating out kitajima. i FOUND it! https://youtu.be/1g7oRASpJO0

  2. No gymnastics or ice skating, those are my two favorite Olympic sports! It's good to be a competitive American, competition is completely different from being an "I'm better than you all the time American".

  3. ah this is awesome! i love the olympics - it gets me all into being an american when otherwise i'm all 'meh' about it haha. i imagine it would be hard over there wanting to see all the US stuff! i love gymnastics too! and really i think i like the summer ones more overall. it's all fun though!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  4. I love that guy who won two races on the trot solely because everyone else fell over! Brilliant. Isn't he a motivational speaker now? I wonder what the thrust of his speeches is...? I'm not really a huge sports person but the Olympics is different, I think. It must be frustrating to have the coverage all wrong!

  5. I bet it is interesting watching it abroad! Yes, I watch them, 'cause I'm an olympics watching junkie! I prefer the winter over summer. My favorite summer events include swimming, beach volleyball, and diving. My favorite winter events include snowboarding half pipe, snowboarding freestyle, and speed skating.

  6. I don't like the summer Olympics. I watch the winter ones with rapt attention (last time, I was going to bed at midnight so I could see it all), but summer sports aren't my thing to watch. Ice dancing is my favorite (shamefully).

  7. I think there might be something wrong with me because I don't care about the Olympics. And I like sports, so I get that it's weird. I'll watch swimming and gymnastics and figure skating but meh. The spoilers make me happy because I like knowing what happens without having to sit through the events.

  8. I LOOOVVEEEEE the Olympics. Cant even pick a favorite event - I'll watch things I'd never watch any other time of the year.
    That's the thing about living in America - we love our sports people, right? So of course 24/7 coverage is strong here... & I LOVE IT!

  9. I don't even think about what it must be like to watch live sporting events and award shows in other countries! I get annoyed when the NASCAR race is outwest and I have to wait an extra 3 hours for it to start! Haha!

  10. I never really thought about any of this except the time zone thing because it's been an issue for us when the Olympics were in Sydney and Beijing.

  11. A girlfriend and I host an Olympic party for figure skating and gymnastics: my two favorites, as well. I'm trying to figure out what kind of fantasy gymnastics competition I'm going to create to make the viewing fun for those less fanatical than me. The Australian women's gymnastics team does seem to get better each cycle. Not sure if this is a highly publicized fact during Australian Olympic coverage, but the Australian women's national team coach is Shannon Miller's former beam coach!

  12. Oh man gymnastics and ice skating are the only parts of the Olympics I really watch closely. I would be so sad if I couldn't see any of it!

  13. Interesting. As an Australian, I of course root for the Aussies. But I think that Australia is better in coverage in some ways than America. In America they have more channels covering the Olympics, so you can see more events, but they rarely show an event when an American isn't competing. I was in Australia during the 2008 Olympics, and they were showing some non-australian competitors. There was a lot of coverage on Michael Phelps when he was up to beat the gold medal record.

  14. I don't know why, but I'm not a huge fan of the Olympics, and I get kind of annoyed that it's on so many channels here! But I would be annoyed if I was really into it and had to disappear from social media due to spoilers and time zone differences.

  15. Oh man, I can't wait to feel all the feels and get all the goosebumps while watching the Olympics! I seriously don't know what I would do if I couldn't watch all of the American athletes and get all of the crazy American pride because I lived in another country. At least with the internet, you might be able to catch some of it, right?

  16. Pretty much everything you listed is exactly what gets me so !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! about the Olympics, so I totally feel for you. How terrible! I mean, terrible is probably too strong, but sad! I vote you take a little American vacation during the Olympics so you can get the full effect ;)

  17. ahhhhhhh yes i understand! though i do have to be a meanie and agree with Samantha up a few comments, i feel like a coverage is a wee bit more universal? whereas america is a bit more like 'you want us to show something without an american? mwahahaha NO'. or maybe that's just me hahaha
    i'm not super patriotic or like, arrogant about my country, but something about the olympics/world sports just makes everyone super patriotic and defensive, you know?


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