Feb 12, 2010 1:15 PM by Mike Moran, Bea Karnes
Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee through thirteen Games, 1980-2002. He is now a media consultant. Moran is writing a blog-- Vancouver Vantage Point:
The USOC's "Team Behind The Team" Effort is something to behold, though you don't hear much about the army of passionate and committed men and women, staff and volunteers, who are there to support America's athletes in every imaginable way, getting to Vancouver, a gorgeous selection of clothing, luggage and sundries, top-shelf nutrition and sports medicine, tickets for parents and families, computer access, financial support and health insurance, and care and affection for these athletes who are here to chase a dream of a lifetime.
WATCH TONIGHT: Opening Ceremony, 6:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) in Colorado Springs on News First 5.
Then, there is the Olympian task of meeting the requirements and demands of some 480 American journalists and thousands of others from scores of nations, NBC, the non-rights-holding organizations like ESPN, CBS, ABC, FOX, and more..........and an array of news outlets that can't be at the Games, but want to cover athletes from their own communities or states.........this is where the USOC Media Services Team, directed by 25-year veteran Bob Condron, steps up to the plate and pulls off something that no other nation has, or ever will do........and in a way that no other sports organization in the United States - NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NCAA or anybody else has done...........Condron,who reports to new USOC Communications chief Patrick Sandusky, who handles the role of Olympic Team spokesman that I juggled for thirteen Games from 1980-2002, has a team of sixty PR/Media professionals in Vancouver to carry out this complicated system of getting maximum coverage for USA athletes and at the same time, dealing with issues like which media get the limited number of special seats at premium events like figure skating, the opening ceremony, and ice hockey medal games...........these five dozen men and women, or press officers as we call them, come from a dizzying array of backgrounds and organizations, and many are volunteers who pay their own way to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience on the world's biggest stage.........for example, in addition to the small USOC professional staff, there's former George W. Bush White House communications chief and former NBC Sports spokesman Kevin Sullivan, Denver Post sportswriter Irv Moss, who has covered sports for more than 40 years, Bill Hancock, the Executive Director of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series), prominent Olympic historian Bill Mallon, Consultant Tim Simmons, who has been Beach Volleyball's media guy at the Summer Games and like me, a former sports information director at the University of Colorado, longtime Olympic buff Jim Constandt of Lansing, Michigan, who has been doing this since the 1896 Games in Athens, it seems.........and former USA Canoe/Kayak and USA Rowing media guy Craig Bohnert.......and another corps of National Governing Body media pros like Dave Fischer of USA Hockey, Tom Kelly of U.S. Skiing, Scottie Bibb of U.S. Figure Skating, and Rick Patze of USA Curling............daily press briefings, twittering, videos, websites, hometown news bureaus, special tickets, media guides, photo access, one-on-one interviews, a daily newsletter for the delegation, calls in the middle of the night, advice to athletes on their behavior with the media, and a thousand other things fall on these people, and they get it done without a whimper, and without very many thanks..........Condron's message is "You have 214 athletes that have worked all their lives for this, and it's time for them to tell their stories.".............All this started on a much smaller scale in 1980 at Lake Placid and I know, because I created this thing from scratch......... when I left CU in late 1978 and accepted the USOC's offer to become its PR/media guy, I was promised that I could take a handful of college sports publicists along to the Games as the organization's first-ever professional team of press attaches..........men and women to handle the task of dealing with the media, and more importantly at that time, to aggressively push and promote the stories of our athletes and provide access to them, something that had not been part of previous Games and a source of irritation and angst to journalists and broadcasters from the USA........it was so unsophisticated in 1980 that I had created the first set of U.S. Olympic Team media guides by actually typing them on base sheets and having a printer run them off with pictures that I had pasted up on the mats........we had two-way radios for communications (no cell phones, I-phones or Blackberrys then, folks), stunned the media by staging pre-games briefings with the media and then breaking down into small groups that allowed more comfortable interviews, held immediate briefings with medal winners and coaches, and took our athletes to exotic locations like taverns and parking lots for interviews with the broadcasters that were denied that access since they were not the official rights-holding network..........put athletes on the phone with their hometown papers who could not be there, and even provided medical help to journalists who had a cold or the flu with our team doctors.......that first small team of mine included college sports publicity legends like Bill Callahan of Missouri, Don Bryant of Nebraska, Jim Mott of Wisconsin, Fred Stabley, Sr. of Michigan State, Jim Brock of the Cotton Bowl, Nancy Peterson of Stanford, and Steve Hatchell, now the President and CEO of the National Football Foundation and my former colleague at CU...........Callahan, Stabley, Mott and Brock are gone now, but these guys would be proud of what this rag-tag unit has become in the years since, and what they accomplish now......not a day goes by up in Vancouver that I'm not there with them in my head and heart, and I'm wishing them their own gold medals, as always..........I will see clips and images of Sandusky at the podium, moderating a press briefing that has to suddenly deal with some mess or controversy, or in the middle of some media scrum in a hallway or alley, and I know what he is thinking and feeling, there in just his mid-thirties, in the vortex of media madness as I was then at Lake Placid..........it was the best of times!
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.universalsports.com (the NBC Games site)
http://pressbox.teamusa.org (The USOC's superb media site)
www.gazette.com (click on the link to Olympic coverage)
NBC Universal will present more than 835 total hours of Vancouver Olympic Winter Games coverage on Comcast. That coverage can be seen on the following networks:
• NewsFirst 5 in Colorado Springs
• Universal HD
Southern Colorado Comcast customers can also watch Olympic replays via On Demand - Olympic content will be displayed in the "Top Picks" section On Demand.
Additionally, Comcast customers get exclusive benefits when they sign in to NBCOlympics.com using their Comcast login and password:
• NBC Universal's Live Exclusive Olympic coverage
• Full Event Replay coverage
• Athlete Bios
• Photo Galleries