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Column: The Olympics can wait

The Olympics are delayed and the plan is that the games will take place in the summer of 2021. Photo via unsplash.com.

When I was on my college search four years ago, I knew how important making connections and getting industry-specific internships would be for my future career in journalism. The fundamental reason I chose to come to Bradley was because of the connections it had with major organizations such as NBC Sports and programs like the Hollywood Semester.

As a recently graduated high school senior, nothing excited me more than the idea of getting to work the Olympics for any company, let alone one of the most recognizable television networks in the world. Applying for the Olympic internship was something that I looked forward to from the moment I was accepted into Bradley.

At the end of freshman year, I applied for the winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea. As a first-year student with only a cashier gig at a Buffalo Wild Wings on my resume, I did not anticipate getting the internship.

Fast forward to senior year, a semester in L.A., two internships, a part-time job and a conversation with a former NBC Sports recruiter later, I was ready to apply for the summer games in Tokyo. I got an email for an interview in October, and in December, one day before getting my tonsils removed, I got a phone call with a job offer. Suddenly, I felt an unbelievable sense of relief.

So, one can imagine how worried I began to feel about my job security when the NBA postponed its season, and then MLS, and then MLB, all due to the impact of COVID-19. In the beginning, I thought all of this was a massive overreaction. Now, more than 347,000 cases and 10,389 deaths in the U.S. alone have shown me that this outbreak is serious. The virus does not care that sports have stopped.

Originally the International Olympics Committee (IOC) pushed back the idea of postponing the Olympics, with NBC sending us interns an email on March 13 stating that everything was moving as planned.

However, on March 24, the IOC decided to postpone the summer games, for the first time, until 2021. The decision was inevitable and as I waited for communication from NBC about what this meant for my employment, I couldn’t help but be upset. My entire college career had been built up for this, and for reasons outside of my control, it was gone.

A fellow Bradley student and sophomore sports communication major, Miguel Agyei, was also hired by NBC for Tokyo. His sentiments echoed mine.

“It sucks that this had to happen at the time it did,” Agyei said. “But with that being said, it’s better safe than sorry. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was going to be a huge honor to represent the Bradley Braves through production for the Olympics.”

Moving forward, NBC has canceled all of its interns’ assignments this summer. It told us that it will evaluate the need for interns in the months to come, and gave us the option to express our interest to work in 2021 or to pursue other opportunities. It also made it clear that graduating seniors would still be able to participate if they so choose.

It’s okay to be upset about these cancellations. For many of us, sports are literally our livelihoods. For others, they’re just an escape from the pressures of our day-to-day stresses. 

The month of March has felt so long, and the start of 2020 even longer, but know that we will get through this. All of these actions being taken are for the best. We will eventually get to feel the excitement of the world coming together in 2021, but for now, the Olympics can wait.

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