London Olympics 2012: Why the Summer Edition Trumps the Winter Games
We're already halfway through the 2012 London Olympics and the Games have provided numerous reminders of why the summer competition is much more intriguing than its winter counterpart.
The Winter Olympics bestow yet another reason to unify as a country—no matter where you're from.
Competition is always fun, too.
Yet, the Winter Olympics are not nearly as popular as the Summer Games. Here are 10 reasons the summer edition earns 4.7 billion viewers to the cold-weather classic's 185 million.
History, Beginnings and Longevity
Ask almost anyone where the Summer Olympics originated and they will likely be able to tell you it started in Athens, Greece.
Ask the same person where the Winter Olympics began and they may not even know.
The answer is Chamonix, France.
Not only is Athens a little more well-known than Chamonix in general, it's synonymous with the term "Olympics."
The Summer Olympics began in 1896. Including the 2012 Games, there have been 27 editions. This does not include three that were cancelled due to war and one "Intercalated Games" in 1906.
Beginning in 1924, the Winter Olympics have taken place 21 times.
The Winter Olympics started as an afterthought to the summer edition and has remained an under-card to the main event ever since.
In fact, they used to be held in the same year until the International Olympics Committee decided to alternate them every two years.
Of course, the Winter Olympics were the Games to be moved.
Take a look at the opening ceremonies alone: The summer edition might as well be an event in itself, with the host nation pulling out all the stops to outdo the last performance. The Winter Olympics isn't quite the spectacle.
Tis the Season
Summer is a time when the sun is shining and the weather is warm. During winter, it's cold and dreary.
Summer is the time when many take vacations, "staycations" or have just a little extra time. Winter is filled with equal amounts of work on top of sick days.
Summer is synonymous with happiness—winter with loneliness. Seasonal Affective Disorder—which causes an individual to feel heavier symptoms of depression during the winter months—affects 10 million people.
Tune into the Summer Olympics and you'll see people running outside or swimming. They're playing beach volleyball, soccer and rowing on the River Thames.
Check out Winter Olympics and it's people wrapped up as tightly as possible hoping not to fall on the ice or in the snow.
Not many wish to be reminded of how cold winter is by seeing its brutality on others.
Less Competition in Television Programming During the Summer
NBC, ABC and FOX affiliates schedule their most popular programming to run from fall to spring.
Shows like American Idol and Dancing With the Stars go on hiatus afterwards. Mad Men, The Office and Glee air re-runs during the summer.
Even sports are slower.
Sure, baseball is in the thick of its season in August, but with 162 games on the schedule, baseball fans constantly tune in and out.
The Winter Olympics face much steeper competition.
Basketball and hockey seasons are nearing playoffs and each game becomes more important. In February, the nation begins to gear up for March Madness, too.
There's less to watch in summer.
More Attractive Athletes in Less Clothing During Summer
We live in a society which extends high status to good-looking individuals.
That being said, it's hard to tell how good-looking a person is during the Winter Olympics when they're all wrapped up in parkas and goggles.
Sometimes, it's hard to even tell who is who.
Not during the Summer Olympics.
The male swimmers are in speedos or racing trunks, displaying an impressively hard set of perfectly sculpted abs. The female volleyball players are in their patented spandex shorts. The beach volleyball players usually play in swimsuits.
The Summer Games put our most chiseled athletes in less clothing. That's a win for all of us.
More Impacting Scandals in the Winter
Think of the largest scandal in Olympic history period.
Did you immediately think of Tonya Harding's brutal attack on Nancy Kerrigan?
It was one of the most absurd stories to ever come out of the Games, and it's one that will not be forgotten any time soon.
Perhaps you thought of Marion Jones' press conference announcing she in fact took steroids during the 2000 Summer Olympics. She won in 2000, but her admission came seven years later.
The next most memorable scandal came in 2002, at the Winter Games again.
A team of Canadian figure skaters took second place in head-scratching fashion after clearly outperforming the rest of the competition. The Russian team took gold.
Later, one of the judges admitted to trading a first-place vote for Russia in exchange for a first-place vote in a different competition. Of course, it wasn't the first time such a claim has been made.
The Summer Games Are More Inspirational
More people look up to Summer Olympic athletes than they do Winter Olympic athletes.
How often do our children say, "I want to be Michael Phelps" or "I want to be Gabby Douglas" versus "I want to be Shaun White"?
Summer is also a time when people are inspired to take advantage of the nice weather. They're moved by the phenomenal feats during the Games and so they get out there and run. They go for a swim. They go to the gym.
Olympic cross-country skiing doesn't have the same effect.
During the Summer Games, you'll see more people outside being active, working out and training just a bit harder.
Take 2012 for example. There's a Citibank commercial airing in which athletes claim to not have ordered dessert in two years or watched television since last summer.
How many of us skipped dessert afterwards?
At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, 82 nations sent 2,566 athletes to compete.
At the 2012 London Summer Olympics, 204 nations sent approximately 10,500 athletes.
That's twice as many countries sending representation and five times the amount of participants.
Consider this: There's a reason the Jamaican bob-sled team had a Disney movie made about them. It's because not as many nations can either afford to send athletes in events like figure skating or have the ability to practice snowboarding.
More Events in Summer
Both the Summer and Winter Games typically run for 17 days. There's no difference there.
But sport-wise, there are double the amount of competitions.
Vancouver saw 86 events in 15 sports. London on the other hand, hosts 302 events in 26 sports.
More people watch in the summer because there is more to watch (that, and it's on all the time).
There are more competitions. That means there are more chances to win and more superstars participating.
More Important and the Potential for Upsets
If you look at the events in the Winter Olympics, you will see a ton of individual sports. Even within the individual events, it seems to matter more about the person who won rather than the country.
Hockey, bobsleigh and curling are the important team events.
Beyond those, figure skating and speed skating are semi-important to countries, though they feature singles competitors (speed) and pairs (figure) rather than teams.
There are more team competitions during the summer.
Archery, badminton, basketball, gymnastics, rowing, sailing, volleyball and soccer earn medals for an entire country.
But when Michael Phelps wins a gold for himself in an individual medley competition, it feels more like he's earning one for the entire United States as well.
Snowboarding doesn't have the same effect.
The nature of the events calls for closer finishes. The amount of events provides more medals, more wins, more competition and more importance.
It doesn't matter if the United States loses ski jumping. It matters when they lose a swimming relay, though.
The Summer Events Are Easier to Relate to
The Summer Olympics are easier to relate to for the common person.
Everyone can run. Can everyone ski?
Millions of people know how to swim. Do millions of people know how to luge?
As children, the majority of the world grows up with soccer, track and field or swimming. Walk in to any gym and it's easy enough to pick up a basketball and start a game with strangers.
The same cannot be said for curling, skeleton and ski jumping.
We watch and enjoy the Summer Olympics because after watching 100-meter sprints, we feel like we can go outside and do that too (albeit much, much slower).
After watching an Olympian complete a half-pipe on a snowboard, most of us still can't do that.
Worse, we have no desire to even try.