Media Malaise

One quirky little fact of life for an Olympic journalist is that if it’s news, it’s usually news to those closest to the action.

Seriously, you’re so busy dealing with the here and now, you often have no clue of what’s going on just down the street. Whether it’s some bozo tossing a trashcan through a storefront window in protest or a whole lot of people having a great time at Robson Square, there are always two sides to every Olympic story.

For some, these Olympics have been wrought with controversy, tragedy and mistakes. For others, they have been a triumphant success.

The newspapers have been piling up outside my hotel room, which I have christened “USA Hockey World Headquarters” by way of a black Sharpie on the front door. The maids weren’t crazy with the move but a few Olympic pins and so far they have been willing to look the other way.

A day after spending 13 hours in hockey heaven, I made the executive decision to take the morning off. I can’t tell you how nice it was to spend the morning munching on Tim Horton’s Timbits, drinking hotel room coffee and reading the news of the day, or news of the week as the case would be.

I had no idea I have missed so much in such a short period of time. It turns out that I’ve been living at the epicenter of so much bad news and didn’t even know it.

Upon further review of the past week’s worth of news, I have come to learn that VANOC is also being blamed for global warming, the current mortgage crisis and the resurgence of Buffy St. Marie’s singing career.

It’s enough to throw the Fourth Estate into fits. And believe me, you look around the main press center and so many of these scribes are fit to be tied. They even ran out of Charmin in the men’s room.

These are the worst Olympics – EVER!

You doubt me. Just ask the British press. They are already proclaiming these Games to be a complete and utter failure. May I remind our former landlords that the Olympic flame has been lit for less than five days?

The local Vancouver press has taken exception to some of the charges leveled by the British press, and one local columnist has responded in kind by reciting a Netherlands' university study that said British men may be quick on the draw, if you catch my drift.

Talk about tit for tat. You criticize our ability to host an Olympic Games, we’ll question your, well …

Some journalists just seem to find fault in everything. To borrow a line from George Bernard Shaw, some people look at the world and ask why; some journalists ask what happened to all the fresh Danish.

But these Games have given critics plenty to write about. Tragedy on the luge track. A malfunctioning cauldron that delayed the lighting of the Olympic torch. And a number of events postponed at Whistler and nearby Cypress Mountain. News flash: VANOC Responsible For Global Warming.

I’ve always found it somewhat ironic that a ski race could be cancelled due to snow. It’s true. I once spent four days at a ski resort in northern Japan waiting for it to stop snowing so a World Cup ski race could be held. I think my editors back in Tokyo thought I was pulling a fast one.

But here, races have been canceled due to too much snow while thousands of standing-room spectator tickets have been stamped null and void because there’s no snow for them to stand on.

There have also been complaints that locals can’t get close enough to the Olympic flame to light their Marlboros, so organizers agreed to move the fence in.

These are my fourth winter Games and I think they’re off to a great start. Jenny Potter is setting the women’s hockey tournament on fire, the U.S. Men’s Team opened with a victory and I have a great Chinese takeout place right next door.

The crowds have been large and enthusiastic, the television coverage has been first-rate and the people all around have been kind and welcoming.

Sure, the Games are not without their issues, but what massive undertaking is? Even Woodstock was not without its share of problems. OK, that's probably not a good example, but you get my drift.

In the end, despite all the problems, the hands of time seem to have a way of brushing aside the blemishes leaving behind only fond memories for everyone involved.

Every athlete that I’ve personally talked to or have listened to on TV has raved about the facilities, the Village and the organization. Ultimately, isn’t that why we’re all here?

If I haven’t said it before, I’m so happy to cover a nice, safe sport like hockey. The biggest issue we’ve had to deal with came yesterday when they ran out of coffee creamer in the press box during the Canada game.

As someone went to get another pitcher, I saw one scribe shake his head in digust as he sipped his cup of black coffee and proclaim, “These are the worst Olympics, ever!”

Did I mention that the coffee is free for media?

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