Winter Games Face Future Challenges, says Hulme
In the face of dwindling interest with key age demographics and concerns about global warming, the Winter Olympics is fighting for its survival, says Olympics historian and Alma College Professor Derick Hulme.
“First, many of the younger generation are not attracted to the mostly traditional winter sports,” says Hulme. “The International Olympic Committee has tried to make the Winter Games more appealing by adding sports like freestyle skiing and snowboarding, but it risks alienating purists by making the Winter Games more like the Winter X Games.
“Secondly, global warming is a serious threat to the viability of the Winter Games,” he says. “The Winter Games are confined by climate to a small number of countries, and they are becoming less able to support the Games. Snowfall is less predictable, and the winter season is shorter. The challenges to the future of the Winter Games will play out in dramatic ways over the next 20 years.”
Hulme, a professor of political science at Alma College, is the author of The Political Olympics (1990), a book about the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Games.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” at Lake Placid in 1980.
“The political context of the times defined the significance of the 1980 Games and the United States defeating the Soviet Union and winning the gold medal in men’s hockey,” says Hulme.
“The Games were hosted in the United States literally a couple of weeks after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan," he says. "The United States and Soviet Union were descending into a new era of the Cold War – the invasion marked the end of Détente that Nixon began 10 years earlier.
“Plus, the United States was coming off a bad decade — it had lost the Vietnam War, endured the Watergate scandal, and suffered the Iranian hostage crisis,” he says. “There was a sense that the best of times for the United States were in its rear view mirror. The ‘Miracle On Ice’ helped the U.S. feel hopeful about its prospects. The victory over the Soviet Union and winning the gold medal were very much a boost that the U.S. needed. It was a feel-good moment for the United States.”
Posted: Sat, February 6th, 2010 at 11:00AM