Talking Points: Olympians gone, but yet forgotten?
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
No doubt this nation -- sports fan or not -- was captivated for a fortnight (all-time great word) as the Olympic flame burned in London. But now is the time we see how indelible these athletes' marks truly were.
We are inundated with the stories of Missy Franklin, Gabby Douglas and Ashton Eaton, whose achievements made them instant stars. But will they have staying power once the NFL and college football starts? Will they be anything more than "who was that again?" by the end of the year?
Obviously, prodigies such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt transcend the once-every-four-years fame that most big-time Olympic athletes enjoy. But sometimes you get a gold medalist -- like an Anton Apollo Ohno -- who rule an otherwise obscure event and remain in the public consciousness.
Right now, we're all familiar with who stepped on the podium. Now we wait to see if they can stay elevated.
Speaking of Olympic staying power, while we have seen major spikes in interest for the U.S. women's basketball and soccer teams in Games' past, that hardly translated into day-to-day fandom once the Olympics ended.
The WNBA hasn't gained sustainable popularity, and if the best female soccer players aren't all on the same team, people don't seem to watch. But based on the excitement and charisma Katie Taylor brought to women's boxing, there may be a chance that the sport begins eliciting views in non-Olympic years.
That's not to say that it will reach the popularity of MMA, or produce stars that hold similar drawing power to Manny Pacuqiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. But anybody who watched some of those matches knows full well the level of entertainment these women brought the crowd, and with the right characters in place, they also know how they can keep interest high.