Kean students not in the Olympic spirit

By Carl Stoffers

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, came to a conclusion on February 24 with a glitzy, elaborate closing ceremony that put an exclamation point on the two-week international competition. The question is, did anyone care that the games were over?

“I was just too busy to watch,” said junior Jia McRae. “I saw small parts of a hockey game in passing, but I never sat down and watched. I was just too busy to take the time.”

According to Forbes, ratings for the Sochi games were 12 percent lower than the last winter Olympics, held in Vancouver in 2010. Additionally, viewership tapered off as the games progressed, peaking occasionally when a gold medal event took place. The airing of tape-delayed competition and the drastic time difference is being blamed as one of the reasons for the lack of interest.

“I only watched the hockey,” said Dev Das, a recent Kean graduate working in the technology department, “and the tape delay kind of affected the way I watched.
By the time I got home from work, the replay of the U.S. hockey medal game was starting, but I already knew who won, so I only watched a little of it.”

Some Kean students blamed other factors for the apparent lack of local interest in the world’s premier international sports competition.

“In New Jersey, we’re not surrounded by many winter sports,” said freshman  Mahim Chowdhury. “Countries like Russia and Norway, they’re surrounded by winter all the time. I stick to sports that I’m familiar with. I watched cross country skiing, but only because my friend wanted to watch. I saw the U.S. hockey games, mostly because there’s hockey here.”

The 2014 games were not without controversy. Proclaimed the most expensive Olympics ever by Vanity Fair, with a price tag of more than $50 billion, there were numerous accusations of corruption swirling around Sochi, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recently enacted anti-gay laws were the cause of
international protest. The outrage was not limited to the political world, though; it was also evident on the Kean campus.

“How the Russian government treated gays is the direct reason I didn’t watch the Olympics,” said senior Lawrence Carsillo. “Even knowing someone who went to the Olympics, I simply asked my friends and family how the person scored. I sent her an email explaining that I truly cared about her playing, but I wanted to stand against Russia.”

Despite the controversy, the Russian team recorded the top medal count, with 33, and the United States finished a disappointing fourth, bringing home
28 medals and contributing to the lukewarm interest at home.

Still, some Kean students enjoyed the Olympics and were sad to see the games end. Senior Alex Atys was especially interested in hockey and skiing.

“I got into it,” said Atys, who is from Canada. “I watched the hockey and skiing. I watched snowboarding, too. I’m a hockey fan, so I was happy that we took the two gold medals in hockey.”

This year’s Winter Olympics went out with a whimper, as far as Kean students are concerned. The 2018 competition will be played in PyeongChang, South Korea, and if this year’s games are any indication, students at Kean University will barely notice.

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