Is anyone paying attention to the Olympics?

Maybe when Shaun White takes the hill

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Americans have no shining star athletes to follow during this month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing and its surrounding winter competition sites. Over 3,000 Olympic hopefuls from about 90 nations have arrived for the games, which started on Feb. 2 and will last until Feb. 20. But Americans don’t even seem to know the names of their own country’s top athletes.

Even in Alaska, the winter athletes are not household names — Scott Patterson, a cross-country racer who trained at Alaska Pacific University, is relatively unknown, as is fellow cross-country skier Gus Schumacher, who trains in Alaska. Neither of them placed in competition over the weekend. And Keegan Messing, the male figure skater raised in Alaska but skating for Canada, has been sidelined by Covid.

According to Morning Consult, Americans just are not well informed about who is competing. Or are they not paying attention? The share of U.S. adults who said they plan to watch all or some of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics is smaller than the share who said the same ahead of last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, which had the smallest average primetime audience for an Olympics since at least 1988. More from Morning Consult here.

“Despite Team USA entering the Beijing Olympics without a standout women’s skating star, Morning Consult polling data indicates Americans are more interested in watching figure skating than any other sport at this year’s Winter Games. The U.S. delegation’s most well-known athletes, however, can be found on the halfpipe,” Morning Consult wrote.

According to the polling company, the most well-known Olympic name is Shaun White, the snowboarder whose name 54 percent of Americans recognize. After White, the most well-known American athlete is snowboarder Chloe Kim, whose name is recognized by just 32 percent of Americans.

And if Americans are eager for a figure-skating medal for the U.S.A., they might look to Nathan Chen. Yet only 27 percent of Americans know that name associated with U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January.

More from the poll:

  • “The American delegation for the Beijing Games is bereft of household names. White, a three-time Olympic gold medalist who made his Olympic snowboarding debut in 2006, was the only athlete whom at least half of U.S. adults (54 percent) recognized by name. One in three respondents said they had a favorable opinion of White. Kim, who in 2018 became the youngest woman to win a gold medal in snowboarding, was the next most-known American athlete, with 32 percent of respondents saying they had heard of her.”
  • “USA Bobsled left a fairly well-known candidate for its team, Lolo Jones, off its roster for the Beijing Games, likely bringing an end to the 39-year-old’s chances to win an Olympic medal. Thirty percent of U.S. adults indicated they had heard of Jones, the track star-turned-bobsledder who competed in two Summer (2008, 2012) and one Winter Games (2014). Her story would have presented rich material for NBC.”

The Anchorage Daily News has a reporter in China covering the Olympics. Reporter Nat Herz just moved back to the ADN after working as a public media reporter for several years, and is restarting his ADN career with a coveted beat — the Olympics; he is also writing on behalf of a national cross-country skiing publication.

A poll on Must Read Alaska’s Facebook page asks the question: Are you paying attention to the Olympics? Take the poll here.

35 COMMENTS

  1. Suzanne, did you read something very recent regarding Messing? Last I read in an article by Ken Browne and Nick McCarvel on Feb 5., Messing had finally tested negative for the 4th time and was suppose to land in China this morning in time for his competition tomorrow.

  2. I’n going with no. The land of the bio weapon anti-christ holds little attraction. I love the regular people there. There used to be some interesting cultures but the imposition of communist values adds nothing we want in this country. Accolades earned there at this time are even commercially devalued and rightfully so..

  3. I am not watching the Olympics. Probably the first time in years that I have tuned out. It has nothing to do with the athletes…my boycott is against China, and the enemy that they are to us.

  4. I stopped watching the Olys in the early 90s, after Bob Costas and NBC ruined the games by celebrating only certain “star athletes”, concocting weepy sob stories about their life struggles, and then only broadcasting those parts of the events that featured their anointed stars. This kind of nauseating packaging eventually took over the entire sports broadcasting business. Sometimes, though, you can still find live events on YouTube without the annoying patter from the “sports” commentators.

  5. I am not paying attention to it. Actually i don’t follow sports. It was never part of my childhood family culture. But I am very glad people are exercising.

  6. Remind again why one should give even a small damn about children or sports professionals who “play” in the Chinese Communist Genocide Games for no other reason than to get money and get their faces on a cereal box
    .
    … while being very, very careful not to annoy their Chinese Communist hosts, who just happen to be Peoples Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Walker’s new best friends.

  7. Have not consciously watched one second of the Communist Chinese ‘Genocide Games’ and the same goes for the NFL for years.

  8. Are we supposed to act like everything is normal? China and their human rights abuses? Their lies about COVID and influence over the World Health Organization and therefore the CDC? And influence over our colleges? And Hollywood? And “China” Joe Biden who should be in jail? Who cares about the Olympics? Any thinking person has lost faith in our government, our medical industry, our doctors, our judges, and our media. And we are supposed to watch the Olympics? I am embarrassed for any athlete who would even consider going to China. As China Joe would say, “come on, man!” What a joke.

    • Well said, Larry!
      .
      And you are correct, basically EVERY establishment institution has lost all credibility and legitimacy, particularly in the last two years of the Covidian panic-demic, and most of all every agency and aspect of the Fe(de)ral Government.

    • Good news! America allows you to leave if you aren’t having a good time. It seems like you are angry with how things are going here. Maybe you would be more happy moving to some place else.

  9. Frankly I think the US should not have sent delegates over and the athletes should have declined. Just having it in China turns a blind eye to the atrocities they are actively committing. I’m disappointing Alaskan athletes went at all. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, they should still be doing whats right, that’s part of life.

  10. I will watch with interest all events that include a stopwatch or a measuring tape. Those that do not involve either of these are performances rather than competitions. An exception would be ice hockey.

  11. It was really cool when Anchorage’s Gus Schumacher, age 21, finished 39th in a ski race and then started ranting about climate change. In China. That was great.

  12. I honestly have not been paying attention to the Olympics and have not for decades. It’s in the same trash heap as the NBA,NFL,MLB…..

  13. Did you hear the men’s bobsled team named their sled the “Joe Biden”?
    .
    It’s the fastest thing ever discovered to take Americans downhill.

  14. I love snow skiing and decided to watch the men’s Super G. It was fun to watch these amazing athletes who have trained their entire lives for this moment. An American even won silver in a very exciting run with just a .04 second difference between the gold and silver. One thing I did notice, and I don’t know if other events are the same, but all the skiers I watched were in their 30’s. One American is 39. Maybe younger kids are too afraid to go to China.

  15. Years ago when Olympic figure skating judges were exposed for corruption was when I came out of fantasy land. I still have sincere amazement at the dedication and skill of the athletes but times are different now. People world wide have lost basic freedoms, family members, careers and homes. Nations, including ours, are fighting for survival. Personally, I am more excited to follow our freedom-loving neighbors to the North as they peacefully expose their leader for the crooked cowardly dictator he is. In answer to your question, Suzanne, not so much.

  16. 2022 Winter Olympics:A slightly altered version of the Hunger Games for liberals with gender identity issues.
    Nope. Not interested.

  17. Well, I guess everyone here is way to busy making snarky, cynical comments on MRAK instead of watching America’s finest young people play their hearts out for our flag.

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