For the next 17 days (August 5 to 21), the sports news will be completely different. That’s because the Summer Olympics will be taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Kids love the Olympics. I think that’s because Olympics news is so different from the usual summer baseball scores and reports from pro football training camp.
How are the Olympics different? Let’s take a look.
Opening Ceremonies: Friday night, more than 11,000 athletes from 196 countries will march into Maracana Stadium in Rio to officially begin the 2016 Games. The Opening Ceremonies are super cool. So grab a world map or globe and try to locate all the countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
This year there will be a Refugee Olympic Team. That’s a group of athletes who have been forced to leave their native countries because of war and other problems.
Women’s sports: Most of the time, television concentrates on men’s sports. A study by the University of Southern California in 2014 indicated that three local television stations in Los Angeles spent only 3.2 percent of their airtime on women’s sports. The study also showed that during six weeks, ESPN’s “SportsCenter” dedicated only 2 percent of its show to women’s sports.
In the Olympics, women athletes are front and center. In 2012, the U.S. women won 58 of America’s 103 medals. This year should see more of the same. Gymnast Simone Biles and swimmers Katie Ledecky (of Bethesda) and Missy Franklin should be stars. U.S. women’s soccer, basketball and rowing teams are favored to win gold medals. NBC, the network broadcasting the Games, will follow those teams. So in the Olympics, it will be easy to see that girls rock!
Different sports: TV sports coverage is usually limited to baseball in the summer, football in the fall, and basketball and hockey in the winter, with a little soccer, golf and tennis mixed in during the year.
The Olympics involves about 40 different sports. And I mean different. There’s archery, kayaking, fencing and badminton. But this isn’t backyard badminton. In Olympic badminton, the shuttlecock is buzzing around so fast you can barely see it.
There’s rowing, table tennis, team handball, volleyball and water polo. NBC will televise 260 hours of Olympic programs. The NBC cable partners will show more than 6,700(!) hours of Olympic sports. So kids should have plenty of chances to see lots of sports.
Foreign athletes: NBC will concentrate mostly on American athletes, but there will be plenty of foreign stars. Jamaican Usain Bolt will try to defend his title as the world’s fastest human, while runners from Kenya and Ethiopia should dominate the longer men’s and women’s races, from 800 meters to the marathon.
So check out the Olympics during the next two weeks. It’s different. And that’s great.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 21 sports books for kids.