Keeping Track Of The Olympics On The 'Net

THE WILD WEB

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Sixty years ago, "communication" was what happened on a party-line telephone, from a radio, in a "read all about it" newspaper or magazine, and in newsreel at the local movie theater.

In the 1960s, sportscaster Jim McKay brought us Olympic competition accompanied by videotaped interviews of athletes showing us their hometowns, families and training facilities. We were taken "up close and personal" via the television in our living rooms. We saw the black power salute by several U.S. athletes on the victory podium in Mexico City and the aftermath of the terrorist killings of Israeli athletes four years later in the Munich Olympic Village where athletes stayed.

For the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, "wireless" refers to satellite transmissions instead of radio telegraphs, and the Internet will provide us with "real" time medal results, hours ahead of NBC's television broadcasts. Since NBC paid a hefty sum for exclusive broadcast rights, Internet Olympic sites will be restricted from showing video clips of events, but they can provide interviews with and diaries written by athletes, historical trivia, and interactive games.

NBC has its own Web site, http://www.nbcolympics.com. There we can access broadcast schedules for NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC. We can choose a sport and read about equipment and scoring, the athletes, and the sport's history.

Other links take us to stories relating behind-the-scene politics of team selections, injuries and recoveries, and expected post-Games retirements. The site also offers contests, games and souvenirs.

IBM is bringing its 40-year association with the Olympics to a close with its official Olympic site http://www.olympics.com. The company started preparations in 1993 and currently has 1,500 employees working on the site. They've provided space for 10,000 athletes to set up personal home pages, and the athletes can update their sites and read and respond to e-mail at a special IBM Cybercafe at the Olympic Village.

If we want to send messages of encouragement, we can go to http://www.fanmail.olympic.ibm.com IBM will filter out any messages containing inappropriate content such as pornography, hate mail or political propaganda. For providing generic identification such as age and country, we can download a FanMail screensaver, showing animations of athletes.

At ESPN's site at http://www.espn.go.com/oly/summer00/index.html, most of the headline articles concern American athletes and teams, but the site also includes stories such as one about the eagerness of two Palestinian athletes to march under their flag; one about the possibility that the North and South Korean teams might march together under the Olympic flag; and one about the Orthodox Church blessing the Russian team.

The CBS Sportsline site at http://olympics.sportsline.com/ offers still another perspective, including complete rosters of U.S. Olympic teams, results of the U.S. Olympic trials, an update on the search for a successor to the president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, and the history of the Olympic Games. Fox Sports.com at http://foxsports.com/olympics/2000/index.sml will join the 500 journalists and photographers of the Australian "News, LTD" at http://ourolympics.com/home/index.cfm to provide wide coverage with an Australian flair. The News Corporation owns both companies.

At least one more site provides Olympic Games information http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/olympics/. A link there takes you to the Fantasy Challenge at http://challenge.si.cnn.com/. Log in and pick the most correct answers in the races for gold, silver, and bronze and you can take bragging rights.

Eidos is marketing a Sydney 2000 game for both Playstation and PC. Teams from 32 nations compete in the 12 Olympic events, from the Hammer Throw to the Kayak K1 Slalom along with more well-known sports.

In this age when we can earn university degrees in communications, information systems, and information technology, can we tire of too much information? With the choice to still read coverage in newspapers and magazines, to watch television broadcasts, and to obtain information, history, and interactive games on the Internet, we can match the source to our time, interests, and thirst for "in-depth" coverage.

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