On Monday, we gave you the reasons the Winter Olympics are king. Now it’s time for the counterpoint. Here are 12 reasons the Summer Olympics are the best of the two.
1. They’re more inclusive
Yes, Southern Hemisphere countries aren’t technically excluded from the Winter Games. But the nature of the games makes it difficult for athletes from these countries to participate or be successful at the games. There are 88 countries or territories participating in the Sochi Olympics, compared to 204 who went to London in 2012. And outside of the Jamaican bobsled team, how often do you hear about southern athletes during the Games?
2. They’re more objective
Winners at the Summer Olympics are mostly determined by a stopwatch, scoreboard or finish line — not by judges. There are exceptions, of course — diving and gymnastics come to mind — but for a percentage of total events, the Summer Games have nothing on the Winter Olympics’ 17 judged events this time around.
3. Sheer numbers
There were 302 events in the London Olympics. There were 26 sports and 39 disciplines represented. At Sochi, there are 98 events over 15 disciplines in 7 sports, and that’s even after 12 events were added this year, making the Sochi Olympics the biggest Winter Games ever.
4. More people can relate
Far fewer people have participated in the sports being contested at the Winter Games. Most people watch the Winter Olympics because they’re curious about the sports. They want to see an athlete launch himself off a snowy hill or fly down an ice chute. But the sports they get excited about in the Summer Games are the ones they have experience with. They’re fans throughout the year, not just once every four years.
5. Winter events start to blend together after a while
There’s huge variation in summer sports. If you’re not a fan of diving, you can check out basketball and not be reminded at all of diving. But if you’re not a fan of watching people slide down a snowy hillside (regardless of how much talent and athleticism it takes), you’re left with a few ice sports, like figure skating and luge. Even if you’re entertained by all the jumps and midair acrobatics, about halfway through the Olympics it all starts to become a snowy, icy blur.
6. They’re not entirely reliant on weather to go off without a hitch
Summer Games can be held in a wider variety of climates and don’t rely on those climates for a successful Olympics. The Winter Olympics are limited to the northern hemisphere, where there is consistently enough snow for competition. But even then, the Games aren’t foolproof. Sochi has spent days with temperatures hovering in the 60s, and the warm weather has softened the snow, making it difficult for athletes to give as strong a show as they normally would.
7. The timing
The Winter Games conflict with all kinds of stuff, but the Summer Games come right in the middle of the lull between season finales and premieres. Plus, they ease a bit of a dry spell: If you’re not a baseball fan, you’re pretty much out of luck in the summer when it comes to sports — except for when the Olympics come around every four years.
8. U.S. dominates the Summer Olympics
Pretty much any sports fan will tell you they’d rather watch a close game than a blowout. But they also want their team consistently at the top. The U.S. isn’t as strong in winter events as it is in summer sports, and while it’s always fun to watch a good competition, we want to see the U.S. on the podium more often than not. The Summer Olympics give us that: The U.S. leads the medal count with 2,400 medals overall, 976 of those gold.
9. They make an awesome season even more awesome
The Winter Games just make a crappy season slightly less crappy. But the Summer Games come when many people (or at least their kids) have more time to follow the events and make an occasion out of the Olympics. Try having a barbecue before the figure skating competition in most parts of the country. It’s just not as fun.
10. The Winter Olympics are more known for their scandals than for their sports
Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. The French figure skating judge in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City winning the games in the first place. We’re not saying the summer games have any less scandal associated with them, but the scandal isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think “Summer Olympics.”
11. Speed is the name of the game
With a few exceptions, the Summer Olympics are all about speed. And you can’t blame a cracked board or other equipment failures for the final standings. It’s all about the athlete’s abilities.
12. Summer personalities
“Drama, drama, drama” should be the theme of the Summer Olympics, and it sure is fun to watch unfold. From track and field to swimming to gymnastics, there are divas all over the place. Win or lose, the summer events are always a good watch.
Speaking of, gymnastics is always dramatic. Always. Remember Kerri Strug? Always. Add to that big personalities in other events like Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt, and the constant upmanship — everyone shows up anyone, anytime, all the time — and you’ve got captivating TV.
Graydon Johns contributed to this story.