It’s tempting to mimic Rush’s 40th-anniversary tour here and go backwards in time through all the different jobs I’ve had covering the Olympics. The bad news is that we would end up buried in some sort of technical manual for the Olympic results feed.
Let’s sum up this way: I served as Olympics editor for USA TODAY’s site at various times from 2001 to 2010, and I traveled to four Olympics in varying capacities from media center-bound blogger to “man of all venues” in Beijing. Along the way, I did all sorts of technical work I won’t describe except to say that I also tried to interject the human touch to explain what all these numbers meant.
Also within the Games, I was a live-blogging pioneer — at least by U.S. standards. What I did for Athens (2004) was inspired by the instant messages I kept sending the Northern Virginia staff from the media center in Salt Lake City (2002), but when I was taking a turn writing it, I was also inspired by the BBC and the Guardian’s lively live updates.
I also tried to boost interest in Olympic sports between the Games. I started a weekly feature recognizing the best U.S. Olympic sports athletes of the week. I did some interviews that tried to go beyond the usual “Yay, I like my sport and work hard.”
By 2008, USA TODAY had come up with the perfect way to use someone of my enthusiasm and skills. Give me the soccer beat, but also turn me loose all over creation to cover anything and everything: badminton, fencing, canoe/kayak, wrestling, boxing, shooting, triathlon, modern pentathlon, handball, and water polo. That’s 12 sports. Make it 18 when you add beach volleyball, diving, table tennis, field hockey, trampoline, and track and field from my “8 venues in one day” assignment. I got a glimpse of the personalities of the USA’s top badminton pair, plowed into intrasquad controversies in wrestling and boxing, saw the favored U.S. sabre team fight back for bronze, and rushed the handball court with the first lady of Iceland.
In 2010, I had a little less traveling to do. I was stationed in Whistler, a couple of hours away from Vancouver, and I went to Utah Olympic Park all but one day. I covered Nordic events and one of my personal favorites, biathlon. I covered the USA’s first Nordic combined medal, then saw them add a relay medal and a gold-silver performance to their medal haul. I introduced readers to one of the Games’ great personalities, ski jumper Simon Ammann, and I captured the party atmosphere of biathlon. (“The German people make very party” is still one of my favorite quotes.)
When I left USA TODAY, I lost my ticket to the Games. But I couldn’t stop covering something I love. In 2012, I did my first comprehensive medal projections, did some technical work for a startup called Trapit, and wrote a few pieces and live blogs for Bleacher Report. In 2014, I did more medal projections, wrote a few previews for OZY, and rounded up volunteers to do event-by-event coverage.
I have a few other offbeat sports interests. I run an elementary school chess club, and I’ve written the occasional story about the game. SportsMyriad branches out into other sports — some mainstream in the USA, some not. Way back when, I went out and covered high school sports and college basketball.
The line I’ll draw, though — I’d prefer not to write about the NHL because I prefer to be a fan. Go Caps. (OK, I’ll write about Caps-related heartbreak as needed.)
- The definitive word on participation trophies … - From a Cracked piece responding to a rant about Millennials: Simon, let me tell you about my participation trophies. I got them for playing soccer, and they were handed out from a bag at the end of the year with all the ceremony of communist factory workers getting their lunch rations. My response was not … Continue reading The definitive word on participation trophies …
- Curling crowd getting too loud - The easy joke here would be that having more crowd noise would be infinitely preferable to hearing “HARRRRRRRDDDD!!!!” all the time. (Seriously — broadcasters should consider putting a decibel limit on their on-ice microphones, or just mute them when they’re not talking strategy. Some of us are listening on headphones to avoid irritating the rest … Continue reading Curling crowd getting too loud
- Belated U.S. Curling championship preview - The U.S. Curling Championships are underway, and though I neglected to do a preview (in part because I was curling myself on Saturday — literally, in one case I think I threw myself farther down the ice than the rock), it’s actually a good time to look at the stats coming into the tournament and … Continue reading Belated U.S. Curling championship preview
- Winter Olympics 2018: Go old people! - I broke down the USA’s medal chances and found this: If the medal count is going over 30, count on athletes who are over 30. Source: Winter Olympics 2018: veterans could grab record medal haul for USA | Sport | The Guardian
- How to and how not to host the Olympics - For the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Deseret News has a nice package of stories, including a look at the still-viable venues. Winter sports athletes train and compete there on a regular basis, and they have a few fun features to draw tourists and local recreational athletes as well. Meanwhile, in Rio … … Continue reading How to and how not to host the Olympics
- Did you know?: Major cricket event in USA - If your stereotype of cricket is that it lasts several days, you may be in for a shock. More and more cricket is being played these days in its abbreviated forms — the “one-day” format and the even shorter “Twenty20” game, which can easily be shorter than a typical baseball game. And yet its competitions … Continue reading Did you know?: Major cricket event in USA
- Curling update: Manitoba showdown, Week 2 - Craig Brown and John Shuster each picked up three wins to break even at the triple-elimination Canad Inns Men’s Classic in Manitoba. Brown beat Shuster head-to-head, while Shuster picked up a big win over third-ranked Mike McEwen. Pete Fenson and the half-his-age team snagged one win. Arizona’s Mike Siggins was shut out. Brown still slipped … Continue reading Curling update: Manitoba showdown, Week 2
- Stats work against Cubs (and all regular-season wonders) - The Cubs had the best record in MLB this year, and enter the NL Championship Series as favorites – but history shows such a record is usually a kiss of death. Story includes references to Spinal Tap and the Washington Spirit. Source: Is this finally the Chicago Cubs’ year? Sadly, the stats suggest not | … Continue reading Stats work against Cubs (and all regular-season wonders)
- Curling update: McCormick on the move - Most top U.S. curling teams descended on Minnesota over the weekend for the mostly American St. Paul Cash Spiel, giving us a good opportunity to see how the teams stack up face to face. The answer? Heath McCormick’s new High Performance team is No. 1. McCormick — with HP veteran Chris Plys and recent juniors … Continue reading Curling update: McCormick on the move
- Desk Potato Sports: Live streams for Sept. 28-Oct. 5 - The USOC Sports Scene is finally back after an Olympic/Paralympic break. Highlights from the prior week’s action include Brady Ellison’s fourth Archery World Cup Final victory. Consistency. They don’t have much to offer by way of webcasts this week, though. They’ll have the men’s softball slow-pitch nationals, which is softball but is neither women’s nor … Continue reading Desk Potato Sports: Live streams for Sept. 28-Oct. 5