The Olympics Seem Different This Time Around

Something's different about these Olympics.

It's hard to put a finger on exactly why it's different, but it's different nonetheless.

Perhaps the American sports fan is drowned in overexposure. It's possible that the baseball fan is glued to the TV to find out if the team he or she loves made a trade.

Football fans are following along on Twitter for every hitch-and-go route their favorite wide receivers make. The camps are tweeted. Play-by-play rules the feed of the devout.

For those who love hockey, they can follow along the strange saga of this year's free agency. Or, they can research the possibilities of a looming lockout.

Basketball fans can watch basketball. Well, there's one group enthralled with London's games. Yet, many of those fans are focused on the hoops of the hardwood, not the hoops of rhythmic gymnastics.

A few years ago, the internet was growing but it wasn't the necessity it is today. A television was on in every household, but the sports viewing was confined to local channels.

If you had cable, you got the best of the sports fan's world. You were lucky enough to see a few national games a week. By those standards, it was something to shout about.

Now, it seems as if everyone has DirecTV. For a couple hundred bones, packages can be purchased to allow viewing of every game in each league.

Sports have turned into specialized fields. You can find out everything you need to know about your favorite team regardless of location.

When things were different - and simpler - the Olympics ruled the days. Each trip to the office would open up a water cooler discussion about the gymnasts or the swimmers. The rallying point would remain patriotism, but the awe of an athlete from another world could become the topic of conversation.

Quite simply, there was nothing else to watch as a sports fan. There was nothing else to read, and little else to talk about.

Add that in with the tape delays and the spoilers across social media, and the Olympics have lost some luster in the states.

There is no universality to the Olympics anymore in America. The events are charted out, put on a menu, and found when they are desired.

Instead of watching basketball and going live to watch a record-breaking swimmer, you go and find it yourself. You choose what you'd like to watch and that's comfortable.

Yes, it's comfortable and easy. Watching sports has become so damned easy that it's not hard to forget what it used to be like.

NBC used to be NBC. Now, it has channels all over the cable box. When table tennis is on, good luck finding the channel.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's the reality of our times. In 2012, the Olympics seem to mean less than they did before. In 2008, Michael Phelps had us all falling over ourselves to find his next meet. His chase for Olympic glory brought us all together. He was unparalleled, and this year's games illustrate that even further.

When the show packs up and moves from London, we'll all go back to the NFL and the pennant chase. Staying power, something quite rare in today's over-saturation, will rely on football's week-to-week schedule.

Whether for better or worse, one thing is clear - things are different for the sports fan in today's America.

The 2012 Olympics are only magnifying that.

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