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 branched 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.)
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Projects and indexes
- Rio 2016 coverage (Bleacher Report)
- London 2012 coverage (Bleacher Report, SportsMyriad)
- Vancouver 2010 coverage (USA TODAY)
- Beijing 2008 coverage (USA TODAY)