FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 13, 2006
Skiers, skaters, snowboarders, sledders compete in Olympics
Olympic-related coverage appears throughout the newspaper. Assign students to see how many articles and photos with Olympic themes they can find in the Business, Entertainment and other feature sections on a designated day or several days. (Sports section and front-page reports don’t count.)
Though the Olympics are a natural TV event, distinctive coverage in newspapers supplements and enhances the on-screen action. Challenge students to point out advantages that newspapers have because of their print format, plus their focus on hometown or home-state competitors in Turin. Can they think of ways that reading Olympic coverage deepens understanding and appreciation of the telecasts?
While the Olympic spirit celebrates pure skill, fair play and a village of international athletes, local and national pride shows in print and broadcast coverage. Ask students if they can detect examples of rooting for the "home team" im this week's newspapers. Have them discuss the value and drawbacks of media "cheerleading."
Ice and snow athletes from 80 countries on Saturday began more than two weeks of competition at the Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. Through Feb. 26, the 2,500 nonprofessionals will display grace, speed, agility, strength, courage and intensity as they try for team and individual medals in 15 sports.
The most popular events include skiing, hockey and figure skating. Action on the slopes, rinks and fields also features snowboarding, speed skating, ice dancing, luge and bobsled races, curling and the biathalon (Nordic skiing and target shooting).
American stars at the Olympics include skiers Bode Miller and Kaylin Richardson, figure skaters Sasha Cohen and Michaelle Kwan, speed skater Apolo Ohno, snowboarders Hannah Teter and Danny Kass, and three-time women’s hockey team member Angela Ruggiero.
The history: The tradition of top athletes gathering to compete began in ancient Greece, where Mount Olympus was the home of gods called the 12 Olympians. The Olympic Winter Games began in 1924 and originally took place during the same year as the Summer Olympics. Since 1994, the Winter Games have been held in even years between their summer counterparts. The Winter Olympics were in Salt Lake City, Utah, four years ago and will be in Vancouver, Canada, four years from now.
The impact: The Olympics, covered by journalists and networks from every developed nation, are a showcase for national pride, a global marketing opportunity for major corporations and even an influential style-setting stage. Blue fleece berets worn by U.S. athletes at the 2002 Winter Games became an immediate retail sensation that enriched Roots, a Canadian manufacturer that made a new style for this event. The games also open endorsement opportunities and other career paths for young stars bringing home the gold.
Media coverage: Expect to see a lot about the Olympics daily on front pages, TV newscasts, sports and news websites, and especially on NBC and three of its cable channels. That network, which bought rights to be the live TV coverage source here, will air a record-setting 418 hours of Olympic events, commentary, profiles, features and festivities in and around the northwest Italian city known as Turin in English.
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