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MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: Just hold on, we’re going home (almost)

I started noticing on Sunday.

For so long, those of us working at the Olympics were so consumed with our work that we rarely talked about our families. We reveled in the excitement of the Olympics, focused on the many assignments and opportunities in front of us, and tried to stay afloat long enough to get a sustainable amount of sleep per night.

Things changed Sunday. The weekend brought, for many, a relative lull, in both activity and demand for content. We run far fewer newscasts on the weekend, so we can dial back somewhat on how many stories we produce. Many of us did so, enabling us to catch up with family members who had previous received the briefest of conversational windows.

For my part, those catch-ups – and the simple opportunities to breathe – allowed me to think about my life back home. I quickly realized how much I missed it.

I was not alone. I took part in and passed by conversations that included statements like this:

“Only one more week …”

“I talked to my kids today, and it just broke my heart …”

“I think I’m ready to go home.”

I have seen this happen before. On both of my previous Olympic assignments, I noticed a tendency for journalists to get antsy towards the end of the Games’ first week – which, for most of us, marked the end of our second week in a foreign country. The end draws nearer, and people begin to get both restless and wistful for home – even despite the mountain of work still ahead.

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PODCAST EPISODE #14: Dave Schwartz, sports anchor, KARE-TV

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“What is it like to cover the Olympics?”

I have heard this question from virtually everyone I know since I came back from Russia three weeks ago.

But before I answer, I generally need to ask a question of my own:

“Which part?”

Reporting from the Olympics combines an array of unique experiences for any journalist. On the list:

  • covering a massive international event
  • corresponding from a foreign country
  • working extremely long hours, with zero days off, for nearly a month

In the case of the 2014 Winter Olympics, you can throw a few more items onto the list, such as concerns about security and privacy in what many consider a hostile country.

I documented my experiences through my numerous on-air stories as well as fifteen blog entries from Russia. But I promised I would use this space, soon after I returned, to showcase the viewpoint of someone else.

Enter Dave Schwartz.

The sports anchor and reporter for KARE-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul worked several seats down from me in Sochi, but in some ways he experienced the Winter Games far differently. He covered numerous local athletes and events, where I typically focused on the Olympic atmosphere. He worked with a partner from his station, while I mostly worked by myself.

And on a personal level, Schwartz spent three weeks in Sochi, ten time zones away from his wife and kids.

Schwartz joined me on the latest episode of the Telling The Story podcast.

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