In 1905, Vladimir Lenin paraphrased Karl Marx by saying “religion is the opium of the people.” Whether one agrees with that statement or not, it has become one of the most infamous quotes of the 20th century. In talking with my dad one night, he contends that sports in general has become the opium of modern day society. We tune in to tune out the rest of our lives for a few hours. We want sports to make us feel good and inspired and to forget the troubles of the world. Why else do we latch on to the underdog stories of March Madness?
If this is the case, than speed skating needs to do a better job in general of being our “drug of choice.” This year I found myself sitting at World Cups wanting more. The product on the ice was fantastic. Inspired skating by many. Great stories behind the scenes. But the production of the speed skating events has run its course.
A simple comparison to what the X Games is doing to what many Olympic sports are doing for production says it all. Great lighting, live music or DJs, and a carnival atmosphere goes a long way making the sport product that much more exciting and engaging. That’s what we need as a sport to move forward and have mass appeal.
Some will contend that that those element are a distraction to the sports product. I could not disagree more. Spectators nowadays want engagement from the moment they park their cars to the moment they get back in their cars to leave. We are in the entertainment business! If people are going to spend their hard earned money in these economic times they better get a long and sustained fix. Twenty minute resurfaces with bad entertainment are not going to do it anymore.
Hopefully, this year we can make our product stronger and make the WC circuit and our OG trials more closely resemble the X Games. Because, let’s be honest, this is what people demand and if we can not provide it than we have no right in complaining when people don’t come to us for their fix.