January 5, 2014

Why aren’t the winter olympics capturing public imagination in Britain?

For a country that, only 18 months ago, was gripped by Olympic fever and could not get enough of any kind of Olympic action, no matter how obscure the sport, the British public seem surprisingly unengaged with this year’s Winter Olympics. Why is that? Here are a few thoughts….

Is it a boycott movement against Russia’s extraordinarily backward treatment of minorities? As much as I would love it if this was the answer, I don’t think it is. The politics of mass-protest does not really have a recent history in Britain.

Is it because British people aren’t really interested in Winter Sports? Again, I don’t think this is the answer either. Given the huge numbers of British people who a winter ski holiday is a staple part of the holiday calendar for, snow sports clearly hold interest for the Brits. Plus given that during the Summer games, Brits were going mad for the non-mainstream summer sports, watching unfamiliar sports doesn’t normally put people off.

I think the answer is purely based on the fact that Brits are unlikely to win many medals. In other words, we only watch sports where a) Someone from our country is competing and b) they might win. It is a shame that not more people take the opportunity to watch some of the greatest athletes on earth competing against each other in the setting of some fairly dramatic scenery but the bottom line is this I think…

Most people watch sport as they want to invest emotional energy in a competitor because that gives them a chance of a positive return on that investment, i.e. pleasure. The greater the promise of the return the more likely they are to invest!

If you think I am wrong, I’d happily continue this conversation over a glass of wine by the fire in the chalet!