Sunday, July 13, 2014

Putting things in perspective

The Olympics have a way of putting things in perspective.
My original trip to the biggest sporting event in the world really opened my eyes to how much organization, planning and hard work goes into pulling off an event of that magnitude.
But it also made me a little jaded against other events, chief in that are the NASCAR weekends at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
When I first started covering the NASCAR weekends (I believe it was 2004 or 2005), the events always impressed me. There was more than one hundred thousand people cramming into the stands and infields. I was up close with the drivers, working alongside writers and television and radio personalities that I read, watch or listen to on a regular basis. I wrote in my weekly newspaper column after each race how cool it would be to cover the circuit on a full-time basis, traveling around the country from track to track.
While I still think that would be a cool job, this year I look at the NASCAR weekend with a different set of eyes, eyes that have seen the magnitude of an event like the Olympics.
As I was eating lunch at the media table, colleague RC Greenwood asked me about my Olympic experience. I told him it was a lot like the NASCAR weekend, just times 1,000. There are no words to describe just how much organization goes into putting on an event like that. The people at NHMS do a fantastic job of keeping things running smoothly. I’ve been a fan watching the race and I’ve been a media member covering the race and I have always come away impressed with what they do.
But, like I said, the Olympics push that up a notch, or two, or a thousand. While I was in Sochi, I learned that time is of the utmost importance. If an event was scheduled for 9:33, it started at 9:33, not 9:32 or 9:34, but 9:33. Same for the buses. They had a schedule to keep and if you were late, you had to wait for the next one, which in fairness, probably wasn’t that far away. NHMS NASCAR weekends do the same thing, with events planned for certain times and they are all expected to go off at those times.
And like the events at NHMS, the media access to the athletes competing at the Olympics is fantastic. I was able to meet up with local athletes with relative ease at the Olympics and I participated in interviews with some of the most famous athletes winter sports have to offer, including Bode Miller, Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety.
There are some times when I really like my job, and getting to cover events like the Olympics and NASCAR weekends are certainly the high points in those times. But, I also enjoy doing what I did all week leading up to Sunday’s NASCAR race, which is covering youth baseball, from Cal Ripken to Babe Ruth.
Because in fairness, every event is a big event to someone, whether it’s a local youth baseball game or the Sprint Cup Series or the Olympics. It’s fun covering all of them.

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