Every four years, Americans sit behind the bright lights of their television screens for three weeks and watch the Summer Olympics, but when it comes to the viewership of the Winter Olympics, most of us are apathetic. Since there is such a mass following in our country for the Summer Olympics, it would make sense that we would also be interested in the winter games. That is not the case, however. Most Americans could only name Shaun White as one of our Olympians. There are a multitude of reasons for the Summer Olympics favoritism, but the most significant reasons have to do with geography and demographics.
In the United States, we have all heard of Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Misty May Treanor, but can you name that many winter Olympians? The viewership of the last Winter Olympics was 21 million people compared to the 27 million for the Rio summer games. Less people and less nations are interested in competing in the Winter Olympics.
The biggest reason most people favor the summer games is simply because they were raised in sports that are part of the Summer Olympics. Most American high schools promote sports in track and field, swimming or gymnastics. The inclusivity of summer events makes it more likely that viewers have an emotional connection to the sports during the summer. The majority of Americans don’t go skiing in Purgatory every winter break, so the likelihood of a random person enjoying Alpine Skiing is pretty low. The lack of availability of Winter Olympic sports means most people in our country don’t care about them.
The Winter Olympics on face value looks like it’s more privileged than its summer counterpart. Unless you live in states that receive a consistent snow annually or you can afford to take ski trips every break, you likely have never participated in a sport that is a part of the Winter Olympics. Our country will always have pride and hope in our winter teams, but it’s clear that countries covered in snow will almost always take it more seriously.
The United States will always be one of the greatest nations in the Olympics, and Americans will continue to be one of the best fan bases that any country has to offer…in the summer.