More Than Medals

More Than Medals

If you’re anything like us, you’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks glued to your television, watching sports you’ve never heard of and criticizing world-class athletes from your couch. Why? Because the Olympics are awesome, that’s why.

Every four years (or two, if you’re a sucker for the summer AND the winter games) the Olympic fever pandemic strikes and even the least-enthusiastic sports fans find themselves completely hypnotized. Figure skating, snowboarding, whatever it’s called where they ski and then shoot and then ski some more — if it’s happening at the Olympics, we’re watching it. But what is it about these games that makes them more interesting than your average sporting event? Is it the nonstop coverage, the exotic locations, or the fascinating strategy behind curling?

It’s all of this. The characters, the setting, the triumphs and defeats — it’s the stories.

The Olympics appeal to our emotions, crossing political and geographic lines and giving us the rare opportunity to all root for the same thing. They’re different from most televised sports because many of the events focus on the individual, inspiring us to rally behind new heroes and find out everything we can about them. Whether the athletes win or lose, their stories are what make viewers tune in. Marketers take full advantage of this appeal, using those stories to create powerful personal connections between audiences and brands. If Super Bowl commercials exist to make us laugh, Olympic advertising exists to make us feel.

So while you’re trying to interpret the complicated scoring systems and and marveling at just how many times a human being can flip through the air while attached to a pair of skis, take a moment to appreciate the stories being told. Listen to the passion in the commentators’ voices, and let yourself be moved by the surprising victory of an underdog. The Olympics showcase more than athleticism. They’re the center of some truly remarkable storytelling, and that’s what makes them so much fun to watch.