While I've never been the biggest sports fan, the Olympics have always been different to me - and I'm sure many of you can relate. There's something special about them. The Summer and Winter Olympic Games both offer a unique opportunity to celebrate global community with healthy competition amongst our hard-working role-models (as opposed to over-paid and entitled professionals), and welcome spectators from all over the world visit and explore the host city/ies (in person or through media). When you think about the effort put forth by all levels of society involved - from the athletes' supporting friends and families, to the government of the host country - it's straight-up incredible. I was lucky enough to intern for NBC Sports Communications during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. No, I didn't get to go to China...but I did get to experience the Olympics behind the broadcast scenes at 30 Rock in NYC and spend my summer researching how the Olympics affect the global community with a focus on human rights to earn my college credit. I dug deeper into how the Olympic Committee chose the city of Beijing as the location for the games, and the implications of picking China to host a tremendous international event. Beijing needed to open its doors to the media and thousands upon thousands of visitors in a way it had never done before, and with the new spotlight, human rights organizations like Amnesty International were especially critical of China's reputation and kept a close eye on the execution of the event. Of course, China's not unique in this case; the same pressure will likely be applied to every host country as it has in the past. I'm curious to see how human rights organizations follow Russia's preparations for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
From a technological standpoint, the Olympics are just as fascinating! Think about how much it takes to bring endless Olympic footage to your living room. By seeing first-hand the tremendous effort put forth by the production teams, talent and fellow interns at almost every single event (if you recall, you could watch the Olympics 24/7 between all of the NBC-owned channels and robust online live-streaming) - the Olympics has given me new appreciation for sports broadcasting. The athlete's are talented, the arenas are huge and everyone's watching. Could you imagine if the live-stream was interrupted or you couldn't find that one piece of information you missed online? It doesn't happen with the Olympics - the media has the event completely covered.
To get a quick glimpse behind the scenes, read about the preparation NBC Sports is finishing up for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Did you know that they transform the Saturday Night Live stage into an Olympic "mission control" center?
So, that's why I'll be watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics tonight. And that's why I watch as much of the Olympics as I can. Why do you?