The 2018 Winter Olympics from Pyeong Chang, South Korea kicked off the other day and this years Olympics come with controversy all over the globe. After the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to ban Russia from the Olympics for having multiple athletes test positive for performance enhancing drugs, they allowed the “clean” athletes to compete, but not under the Russian flag. Instead, they will be known as “The Olympic Athletes From Russia.” Personally I find the idea a bit moronic because they’re still allowed to compete but that’s just me. I understand that you shouldn’t prevent all of them from competing but do you really have to make them compete under the name “The Olympic Athletes from Russia”?
Next, we have not quite a controversy but rather a hopeful symbol of unity. North Korea and South Korea who have been at odds with one another for a long time but have decided to join forces in hockey to form the Korea United Team. Many say this is just a publicity stunt, while others see this as a sign of hope. Even though they lost to Switzerland 8-0, the crowd was roaring and was cheering them on throughout the entire game. Many believe this to be the first step in unifying Korea. Will it work? Only time will tell.
On to the United States. The 17 year old phenom from from Westlake, Ohio Red Gerard took home The United States’ first Olympic gold with his stunning performance in Snowboard slopestyle. Jamie Anderson took home the gold for the women in the same event, but women’s event also came with its own controversy. The howling winds during the day wreaked havoc on the riders and even forced Canadian Spencer O’ Brien to cut her last ride short fearing the wind would push her to far while she was airborne. I can’t blame her either, you’re going into the air and you have no idea if the wind will gust or not. You train for four years for this and the Olympics decide to risk health for this? Many of the riders wanted a delay but the event organizers said no. Wait another four years I guess?
For the first time since the 1994 games, there will be no NHL players in the Olympics. The NHL’s official reason is that the overwhelmingly majority of owners did not want to disrupt the 2017-18 NHL season. They didn’t mind disrupting it until now? I feel that there are several other “real” reasons why they didn’t want to go. One, it’s in South Korea, that part of the world isn’t the most stable at the time. Two, player injury, why risk an injury in a tournament that doesn’t really mean all that much. Three, and quite possibly the biggest is the 17 day break where there is no football or baseball, all they have to compete with is the NBA. You think the NHL wants to give up that opportunity!? Heck no!
I’m not saying they’ll beat the NBA in ratings but if all you have to compete against is the NBA than why not take that opportunity? Don’t give me the “They still have to compete with the Olympics” jargon. Do you think fans are going to watch curling instead of hockey? (No offense to curling) but I think the NHL made the right decision here. Don’t get me wrong, I loved watching Olympic hockey. The intensity was through the roof and I’ll still never forget the gold medal game in Vancouver in 2010 between the U.S. and Canada or the gold medal game in 20002 in Salt Lake City between the same two countries.
The Winter Olympics are great, you get to watch sports that you usually would never watch and you get to show pride in your country yet again. You also get to see the young and upcoming athletes get their spotlight that they only get every 4 years. (Unless you watch X Games a lot) you only get to see the likes of Red Gerard, Jamie Anderson, Hailey, Langland, and others during the Olympics. Or the story of how Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman, and third woman ever to land a triple axle in the Olympics. These Olympics may not be in the most desirable of places in the world, but it still brings us all together.
Written By: Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)