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Editorial: Why not hold more Olympics?

Published 9:21am Monday, February 10, 2014

The Olympics get excellent TV ratings, unite the world in sport and showcase host countries in ways no other spectacle can.

So instead of holding them every two years, why not have them every year?

Presently, the Summer and Winter Games each are held every four years, but they leapfrog in a way so that an Olympic Games occurs every two years.

A Winter Olympics is happening in Sochi, Russia, now. A Summer Olympics will happen in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016. In 2018, the Winter Olympics comes to Pyeongchang, South Korea. In 2020, the Summer Games come to Tokyo, Japan.

Perhaps it would be unwieldy, expensive and cumbersome, but considering the popularity and success of the event, why not step up the pace and have the games be summer one year, winter the next, summer, winter, summer, winter and so on?

The ancient Greeks held their Olympics every four years. That’s the reason for the four-year interval.

But this isn’t ancient times. Who doesn’t enjoy watching the best at so many sports compete in one place? And who hasn’t complained that four years is too rare to watch sports such as curling, speed skating or ski jumping on television?

The problem at other times of the year is that these sports alone won’t hold the attention of audiences. Americans are unlikely to tune in to the 2013 Speed Skating National Championships, for example. But allow the TV directors to hop from one sport to the next, and it makes for great television. Even men will watch figure skating if there are breaks in the action for, as an example, a bobsled race.

What’s more, everyone in America knows athletes such as Michael Phelps, Lindsey Vonn and Apolo Anton Ohno, but they only got to follow their greatness once every four long years.

That interval might have been fine in the 20th century, but in modern times, successful events tend to expand. NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, NCAA conferences, pro golf, pro tennis and myriad other sports always are seeking to expand audiences, often by expanding the frequency of the contests. The Olympics look to expand, too, by focusing on world appeal, but it seems to be low-hanging fruit to increase the frequency of the Olympics.

NBC can provide 34.64 million reasons why. That’s how many viewers the network garnered for the opening ceremonies. Not bad.