My Favorite Olympic Moment
I was a runner growing up, all through college, and still even hitting the road today (though at a fraction of my past mileage). Perhaps it was an interest that I was born with or perhaps it was one of the few things I could do with my lanky frame, but running appealed to me in a way that nothing else did. And so when the 1984 Summer Games began in Los Angeles, I was glued to the TV, scheduling my runs during boring basketball or soccer matches, so that I could see every bit of track and field coverage that was aired.During those games, Joan Benoit became the first winner of the Women’s marathon. Being the first is not doubt impressive, and it was even doubly so considering she ran it a she did a few months after knee surgery. But what stuck in my mind was the image of her running. Mostly by herself. With grace and smoothness that all runners strive to have. She cracked a smile once, when some fans waved a banner of her small school Alma mater, but most of the time she was stoic, in her own world, dealing with the demons that come in long distance running privately – albeit on a global stage. Once victory was assured, her fixed, focused gaze relaxed. A smile of both relief and pride broke on her face, and a golden glow beamed from her, for even after she broke the finishing tape, the joy she felt kept her running to family, to the fans, and to history. I’m smiling now as I write as the memory of the experience is as powerful now as it was nearly a quarter century ago – I’m thankful to have been able to watch it, as I know that if I were just to have read about it, my memory may have been limited to the statistics and trivia of the event rather than the experience itself. Video changed everything about that moment for me.Unfortunately, my track and field interest is more my interest than that of the mainstream public. Trying to watch a 10,000 meter semifinal or early heats of the 1500 isn’t possible because those can’t draw enough interest of the mainstream audience to warrant broadcasters to put but maybe a highlight of it in their primetime broadcasts. But no more. NBC is dramatically changing the game this year by bringing more than 3600 hours of broadcasts feeds of the 2008 Olympics – more than the total of all of other video aired in Olympics past – to a number of television channels and to the Internet. It’s a remarkable offering, and one that speaks to the power of the network, the power of NBC, and the power of consumer and their desire for a personalize experience. Now, even if there aren’t enough viewers to warrant an hour of prime time coverage, NBC, enabled by Cisco, is delivering the experience their viewers want and allowing them to watch events that may be meaningful in their own ways, whether they be mainstream or individual interests.Thanks NBC – know that I’ll be among the many that will be watching. And thank you, Ms. Benoit for inspiring others to an extent that you’ll likely never fully grasp. It was wonderful to have experienced your Olympic moment with you.