MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: 16 odd observations from covering the ’16 Summer Games

This assignment is not normal.

I’ve said that before, right?

In fact, I have probably detailed it quite a bit in this space over the past few weeks. I have discussed how this three-week Olympic experience affects my diet, sleep, and health.

But I probably have not described much of the minutiae.

Here, then, is this list. As my assignment winds down (I leave Monday following the closing ceremonies), I bring you 16 odd observations from covering the 2016 Olympics:

  1. I could never handle the traffic in Rio de Janeiro on a full-time basis. And I say this as someone who lives in Atlanta and grew up outside of New York. Rio traffic is special.
  2. I am staying at a perfectly fine hotel with an outstanding restaurant, which I appreciate on those nights where I can’t snag a full meal before heading home.
  3. In terms of wearing one’s national pride, the Canadian fans seem to do it the best. As I walk around the park, I always spot people decked out in full Canada gear.
  4. I have met a lot of people not from America wearing Team USA basketball jerseys (or just NBA jerseys of particular American players).
  5. According to my FitBit, I am averaging more than 16,000 steps per day at these Olympics. I’d say at least a third of those steps involve carrying camera equipment.
  6. I cannot believe this considering the monumental lack of sleep I have received, but I have not drank an ounce of caffeine. Not coffee, not tea, not soda. Not an ounce.
  7. I have not been bitten by a single mosquito. But I put on repellent every day. My skin may end up permanently covered with a thin layer of DEET.
  8. The NBC commissary, for which I am supremely thankful because of its endless supply of free food and water, has served five different types of tater tots.
  9. One version featured tots with smiley-faces baked into them.
  10. The bathrooms in our workspace are labeled with computer print-outs of superheroes. The women get Wonder Woman, while the men get Batman and Superman.
  11. The most scenic views of Rio at our workspace facility are at the smoking sections.
  12. At the beginning of our second week, I discovered the “Quiet Room” in the main press center. It exists to enable journalists to take naps if they need them. I have used the Quiet Room for 20-30 minutes nearly every day since.
  13. The “Quiet Room” is separated by a thin wall from a loud, working newsroom. I bring headphones.
  14. In addition to being recognized accurately as American, I have been identified incorrectly as Italian and Israeli.
  15. After eating at a Brazilian steakhouse in Rio, I feel obligated to find one back home. Terrific suff.
  16. I just fell asleep on the bus while typing this blog post.

Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at

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