Colorado

Feb 15, 2010 2:15 PM by Mike Moran

Image is all important at Olympics

Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee through thirteen Games, 1980-2002. The Omaha,Nebraska native was the Sports Information Director at the University of Colorado for a decade before joining the USOC in 1978 as it left New York City for Colorado Springs. He was the Senior Communications Counselor for NYC2012, New York City's Olympic bid group from 2003-2005 and is now a media consultant.

Never A Dull Moment In The Image Game

Through 13 Olympic Games as Olympic Team spokesman, I knew that it would always come...........the dreaded, unforeseen themes or events that would impact everything throughout the Games, the thread that would dominate and influence the way the media reported from the Games about the U.S. Team and others, the impossibility of altering it except through a tragedy, scandal, or stunning triumph like the Miracle On Ice in Lake Placid.........in Lillehammer it was Tonya & Nancy , non-stop, around the clock, suffocating every aspect of the coverage of the Games and placing a blanket over the stories of the rest of the U.S. Olympic Team and infuriating our Norwegian hosts.........and it did not end until they finally skated...........in Salt Lake City, it was the figure skating judging scandal called "Skategate" involving Canadian pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier losing to Russians, only to have the IOC later award them a duplicate gold medal and two judges suspended.....one, Frenchwoman Marie-Reine Le Gougne, returned to her home and found U.S. reporters staking her out............in Atlanta, it was a messy transportation system for the media, with drivers getting lost, and some tacky commercialization of its downtown by businesses........directly across the street from my office at the Main Press Center were 40-foot inflated figures of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, with a full-blown rodeo bull-ring just four blocks away as well..........and then the tragic bomb explosion in Centennial Olympic Park that brought everything to a standstill for a day............in Seoul, it became the Steroid Games after Canada's Ben Johnson was busted after the finals of the 100 meters and later, two U.S. swimmers were arrested for stealing a religious statue and bringing it into a bar and placing it on the seat next to them.......in Nagano, it was our first team of NHL players and a handful of them, frustrated by losing, trashing their rooms, burning clothing and tossing furniture off their Olympic Village balcony, then sneaking out of the country early in the morning, leaving the USOC to try to explain to a hostile media............in Calgary, the frustrating performance by our team led to an announcement in the middle of the Games that the USOC was appointing George Steinbrenner to head up a commission to explore the issue......the media event we did to reveal that was a classic PR disaster, though what that commission did a year later, was one of the best things for athletes that the USOC ever created........in Sydney, it was American shot put star C.J. Hunter withdrawing because of an injury, but after it was reported that he tested positive to both nandrolone and testosterone at the Bislett Games in July. .......Hunter was then the husband of sprinter Marion Jones, and we all know how that worked out...........now,in Vancouver, I can see these same themes growing and dominating the news cycles and the coverage........the unspeakable tragedy and death of the Georgian luger...........the need-for-speed at the expense of safety..........the lousy weather that has forced postponement of the Alpine events day after day.............the Canadian "Own The Podium" program with its mission of putting the host nation atop the medals chart, and the decision by the Canadians to limit advance training ahead of the Games on their venues to athletes from other nations, unlike the usual policy at other Games...........the commentary that perhaps the Olympic Winter Games have lost their "buzz" among a worldwide audience..........and we are only in the first three days of action...............however, U.S. television ratings to this point exceed expectations for NBC and its family of networks..............through Saturday, 97 million people have watched the Vancouver Olympics Winter Games on the networks of NBCU; nine million more than watched the first two days of the Torino Games in 2006 (88 million) and the most since the tabloid-fueled 1994 Lillehammer Games (100 million), according to data released today by Nielsen Media Research..........The 30.0 million average viewers for the first two days of the Vancouver Games is the most for a non-U.S. Winter Olympics since the 1994 Lillehammer Games (39.9 million). The 30.0 million is 33 percent higher than the two-day average viewership from Torino (22.6 million)........... "It's simply remarkable for a Saturday night, television's least-watched night, to surpass the audience total for every one of the 17 nights of the last Winter Olympics without the benefit of figure skating - the single biggest event in a Winter Games - which was the featured event of the first Saturday night in Torino," said Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports and Olympics............and, in the half-century of televised Olympics, NBC's coverage of the Opening Ceremony from Vancouver was the MOST WATCHED EVER for a non-U.S. Winter Olympics with 67.5 million total viewers, 17 million more than Torino in 2006 (50.2 million) and six million more than the Lillehammer Games (61.7 million) which stood for 16 years as the most-watched Opening Ceremony for a non-U.S. Games............with luck, the performances by athletes like Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller, the hockey teams, Apolo Ohno, Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane, Tim Burke, Rachael Flatt, and Shani Davis will be the stories in the days to come, especially if they gain success and medals.........I have to tell you that the USOC's final, wrapup press conference at each Games, which were designed to showcase several athletes and their compelling stories and glory, were moments of tremendous relief for all of us, because in the end, as it should be, it's all about them........in the 14 days remaining, we all hold our breath in the meantime.

 

Here's some really good websites to help you follow the Games

 

www.teamusa.org (Official USOC site)

www.sportsfeatures.com (scores of Olympic stories from all over the world)

www.nbcolympics.com (the NBC Games site)

http://pressbox.teamusa.org (The USOC's superb media site)

 

 

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