Few students show interest in Winter Olympics

By Katy Duffy

The greatest challenge as a fan of the 2018 Winter Olympics at Columbia is finding someone who shares your interest, said Tori Levin, a sophomore American Sign Language-English interpretation major, who described discovering other Olympics fans as “few and far between.” 

Because sports fans on campus are rare, there are very few sports opportunities at Columbia. The Student Athletic Association lists seven active sports leagues on its website, but also encourages students to start their own teams.

Levin said her favorite moment of the games so far has been Red Gerard’s performance in slopestyle snowboarding, for which he earned the first U.S. gold medal of the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

The North and South Korean teams, which were united during women’s ice hockey but not in other events, have also been an intriguing watch, Levin said. The two nations marched together in the 2018 opening ceremony under a single flag for the first time in history. 

Senior design major Anthony Ruiz called himself a “minority” as a sports fan on campus, which he said becomes more exaggerated during the Olympic games.

While other students’ have been indifferent to the Olympics, Ruiz said everyone should watch because the games go beyond sports.

“It’s a good time for the world. We can kind of shut up and watch people get in a bobsled and whip around really fast,” he said.

Ria Dockerty, a junior multimedia journalism major, said people should care about the Olympics because of how it affects the future of sports. The exposure events get at the Olympics could increase interest, particularly for the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team, which recently went on strike seeking equal pay with male hockey players.

“Women’s hockey isn’t televised nearly at all,” Dockerty said, “so the fact that it’s being televised could impact the sport of women’s hockey so greatly.” 

Dockerty said she expected this years Olympics to be the sporting celebration Columbia students would care about because of its significant LGBTQ presence. Two U.S. athletes, figure skater Adam Rippon and snowboarder Gus Kenworthy, are the first openly gay men to ever compete in the Olympics. 

Dockerty added she would enjoy being able to watch the games with other students and hopes to see a watch party put together in the future. 

Student Athletic Association President and senior audio and arts and acoustics major Matt Coyle said although there was initial interest in a watch party, it does not seem likely to happen, but added that students should be interested in the games. 

“People should be enjoying the spirit of competition and that’s what the Olympics is,” Coyle said, “to understand other cultures while still competing and going for the gold rather than the silver.”