Why the Olympics Wasn’t Blogged

The International Olympics Committee missed a big one this time around.

You may have noticed the blackout on weblogs covering the Olympics – oh, there’s lots of people talking about the Olympics. But none of the atheletes are allowed to share their experiences online.

The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other websites. To protect lucrative broadcast contracts, athletes and other participants are also prohibited from posting any video, audio or still photos they take themselves, even after the Games, unless they get permission ahead of time.

So basically the IOC is paranoid that web publishing is going to threaten the non-stop, multi-lingual, global television coverage. That is completely stupid and misguided.

What if NBC had hosted a central blogging site for all of the Olympians? Or Reebok? Where atheletes could chronicle their training and challenges. We see their training records and see as their abilities improve – or setbacks inspire them to train harder. Where fans could write tidings of good luck or congratulations. Where we see athletes go from hopeful, through to the trials to the gold medal. Can you imagine the kind of web traffic that would have generated? Just think how many people would see these first-hand accounts of individuals going for their greatest dreams. And on each page is a non-interfering banner with your product name. Throw up an American flag and you’ve got a trifecta: brand, patriotism and passion.

People love watching the Olympics because it is inspiring to watch others at the peak of performance in their professions and we hope that one day we can be at the same level of performance. Adding weblogs to the mix would not have competed with television coverage – it would have supplemented it. It would have enriched it.

I think the IOC is less focused on sportsmanship and sharing a global experience than guaranteeing broadcast monopoly to a handful of broadcasters. It’s like sharing sports scores. Even people that know who one will still tune in to see how it all happened. Fans are what drive athletics and further, revenue. Ignore them at your peril.

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