By: Charles Bowen
With the opening of the Winter Games this month, we’ll be reminded that the Olympics — like politics — are always local. Eyes in individual communities all around the world will be focused on small (and occasionally huge) dramas being played out by their local heroes who have come to the international stage in Salt Lake City.
Chances are your own state or community also has at least one connection with this year’s Olympics. Unfortunately — as past competitors in the luge, biathlon, and curling can attest — network television shines its bright lights on only a fraction of the Olympic venues. Unless your local heroes are skaters or skiers, their best hope for broadcast face time is likely to be outside prime time, if at all.
But the good news for local editors is that since the arrival of the Web, all those intensely local Olympic stories get told in cyberspace. Scores of Web sites — from the official Salt Lake City home page and special editions by Sports Illustrated magazine and NBC to those devoted to specific sports like bobsledding and snowboarding — can be mined for local content.
For general information on schedules, athlete biographies, and broadcast timetables, visit Salt Lake’s official site at http://saltlake2002.com. It provides fast access to information on all 15 sports and profiles of the more than 80 countries represented. If you write about the site in your news columns, be sure to mention its unique features, such as its virtual tours of the Olympic complex, picture shows from the TV covers, and kids’ services. The site’s introductory page also provides hyperlinked headlines to current news stories from the Olympic Committee, NBC Sports, and other resources.
Speaking of NBC, the network’s own Web site (http://nbcolympics.com) is a deep reservoir of breaking and archived news stories about the games and the competitors. And unlike the global scope of Salt Lake 2002, here there is more of a narrow focus on the United States only, with sections devoted to introducing members of the U.S. Olympic Team. Look to the site also for live results and analyses by former Olympians.
For more about the Americans in the gold medal hunt, check into the U.S. Olympic team’s own site (http://usolympicteam.com). The site’s Search for Olympians option, located under the Athletes tab at the top of any screen, lets you search for American competitors now and in the past, searching by last name or by year and sport.
Need more hard sports copy? CNN/Sports Illustrated‘s site (http://cnnsi.com/olympics) could be the answer. Working independently of NBC and its broadcast plans, this site may turn into the Web spoiler for pre-primetime results as the games roll on. Judging from past Olympics, you also can count on these guys to produce quite a lot of pure Internet content in addition to that recycled from print and the airwaves.
And here are some other notable online Olympic resources you can call on in a hurry:
1. Looking for educational sites that you can tell your readers about? The Utah Education Network has created an excellent Web page at http://www.uen.org/2002 that has a lot of material on the participating countries.
2. Also the American Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles offers an Olympic Games Primer (http://aafla.org/6oic/primer_frmst.htm) that answers a lot of questions about the current Olympic Games and competitions of the past.
3. Since figure skating and skiing are usually the featured events of the Winter Games, you’ll do well to have a few of those Web sites tucked in your toolkit. U.S. Figure Skating Online (http://usfsa.org) has news and archives, team bios, features, and related material. For U.S. Alpine skiing, check out http://www.usskiteam.com, which provides rankings, news, bios, and assorted links.
To see Bowen’s last 10 columns, click here. Previous columns may be purchased in our paid archives. Search for “Bowen” in the “Author” field.