March 6, 2006

Students Overlook Winter Olympics

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Gold, silver or bronze? Most Cornellians could care less. While the rest of the world had its gaze on the 2006 Winter Olympics at Turin, Italy during the end of February, a majority of Cornell students were busy immersed elsewhere.

The Winter Games’ schedule “just coincided with prelims,” said Erik Steven Fisher ’09.

The Winter Olympics, which opened on Feb. 10 and ended last Sunday, overlapped with the first week of preliminary exams for many students.

In light of this, some students decided to take advantage of the schedule overlap.

“My calculus T.A. actually on the day after our prelim gave us a quiz, but it was a joke quiz, and one of the problems was to name as many Olympians as you can,” said Emily Lyons ’09. “Most people couldn’t name more than one or two.”

Unlike the Summer Olympics, which get ample attention, the Winter Olympics tend to be overlooked. And it certainly did not help when U.S. figure skater Michelle Kwan pulled out at the start of the games.

“I kind of would have watched ice skating for Michelle Kwan, but since she got injured I really haven’t followed anything much at all,” Lyons said.

Even for those in front of TVs, staying tuned solely to the Olympics was no simple task. In addition, NBC, which broadcasts the games, had to vie for viewers against programs like ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and Fox’s “American Idol.” This year’s games were a ratings disaster for NBC by finishing down more than a third from Salt Lake City four years ago.

But for others, these weren’t the only complaints. Call it a lack of time. Call it the “Cornell lifestyle” – non-conducive to “frivolous” activities such as following every biathlon bout, skiing stretch or curling contest. Ultimately, what it boils down to is a campus-wide sense of apathy toward the Winter Olympics.

“I felt that many people were apathetic about the Winter Olympics, and I wish there were more events on campus that increased awareness of this event,” said Lisa Cao ’09, a staff member of the Cornell Fitness Center, which promoted increased awareness of the Olympics through its Winter Games Incentive Program.

Participants were encouraged to monitor their fitness levels during this period. Workout sessions were tracked, and raffles were offered as incentives.

Nonetheless, there were a few students, like Matt Estersohn ’07, who spent a considerable amount of time following the Winter Games on a daily basis.

“What could be more exciting?” Estersohn asked. “Watching Shaun White win gold on the half pipe was just amazing,” he said.

But people like Estersohn represent the minority of Cornell students. More people shared the attitude of Sheikh Shuvo ’09. “I just don’t have time,” he said. “And I just don’t care.”

Archived article by Stephen Xian
Sun Contributor