Monday, February 24, 2014

Blame it on Eruzione

The Olympic flame has been extinguished, and another page in sports history has been written by athletes from around the world who competed in Sochi Winter Olympics.

Throughout the 17 days of competition, I was glued to the television, laptop, and iPhone to catch everything from the opening and closing ceremonies including the Jamaican bobsled and another epic battle between the United States and Russia.

Some may call this an addiction, or an obsession. I blame "The Miracle on Ice" for my extensive Olympics viewing habits.

Back in 1980, I was 6-years-old and my mom sat me down in front of small cathode ray tube television - the one you needed to get up and change the knob to switch channels between the three VHF Detroit stations and Channel 9 from Windsor - to watch the American hockey team make history against the Soviet Union.

Ever since Al Michaels uttered "Do You Believe in Miracles" in Lake Placid, I have been glued to the television every Olympiad for 17 days to catch the next amazing athletic feat.

From Los Angeles to Seoul to Vancouver, I have been drawn to the games. While I enjoy the behind-the-scenes stories about the athletes, the competition between the best athletes from around world draws me in every four years. Track-and-field, bobsled and speed skating. It doesn't matter if it is marquee, or minor, I watch.

Looking back, I should have invested in an industrial size bottle of Visine to keep my eyes moist as I switched between screens on Comcast. Between cable, Internet, broadcast channels, there was nearly 1,700 hours of content available through Xfinity according to The Detroit News,

Additionally, for those of us who can see Canada from Jefferson, the Olympics returned to CBC-TV after losing the rights to the Vancouver and London games. Throughout the games I was able to get the games with a Canadian angle. And instead of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night, I was able to join other Red Wings fans who may have been up early Sunday for Hockey Morning in Canada and cheer on team Canada - which was led by General Manager Steve Yzerman and Coach Mike Babcock - to the gold medal.

While Sochi had a number of great moments, I don't know if any will stand the test of time like that of the victory over the USSR. Only time will tell, but thanks to members of the men's 1980 hockey team, I am an Olympic fan for life.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When Detroit Was Super (And Still Is!)

It took some time, but I was able to locate a photo from the night I took field at the Super Bowl.

I'm a little small to be a lineman, my aim may be a bit off to hit a receiver and I might not have the leg to split the uprights - but maybe my pants - but I did have my moment on one of the biggest stages in the world.

For Super Bowl XL, I was part of the halftime crew that assembled the stage for the Rolling Stones. Not only did I get a front row seat for the show, but I was also on assignment
for The Detroit News.

As a reporter for the paper, I chronicled the rehearsals and experience as part of our Super Bowl coverage. It was an unforgettable experience transporting the stage into a packed Ford Field, help assemble the stage and then wait for Stones to perform.

While waiting for Mick to "Start Me Up," I took a moment to look around to soak in the moment and enjoy the moment. After the show, I worked my way into the stands to catch the second half of the game to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Seattle Seahawks.

This was a great moment for the city of Detroit. Despite being a cold-weather host city, the organizing committee embraced the weather and planned events to celebrate winter. The Winter Blast, Super Bowl activities and related events attracted crowds downtown. And those who attended even used public transportation!

(By the way, Super Bowl Boulevard in New York this year looked reminiscent of our festivities.)

After the game I walked down Woodward Ave. and was amazed at the crowds who were celebrating the game, the city and activities. One local television reporter, who is in New York now, asked me "can you believe this?" And another fan was on the phone stating that he was "Detroit's version of Michigan Ave."

This was a great time for the city, but like the fortunes of the Seattle Seahawks, the following years saw some losing seasons. The Seahawks had losing seasons while rebuilding, and Detroit had to deal with the Kilpatrick scandal, automotive bankruptcy and economic downturn challenged the city and region.

But the Seahawks rebuilt, and so did Detroit. The administration changed (full disclosure - I did work in the Bing administration as a press secretary) and brought respectability back to the office, Quicken Loans moved into the city and residences downtown are renting at a premium.

Is it time to throw a parade like they will have in Seattle? Maybe not yet. But Detroit, and the region, are moving the ball forward and driving in the right direction.

About the blog: These are occasional ramblings from the shores of St. Clair Shores. The name of the blog, XACO Communications, is a tribute to my dad's company. He called his import/export business XACO, which I always admired the name, his logo and how he traveled the world for work and to support his family.