Reporter’s Notebook: There’s more to Games than the games

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It sounds like a cut-rate riddle of the Sphinx: If you go the Olympics but don’t go to any events, are you really there?

Wednesday was my 14th day in Salt Lake City, and as of 4:30 p.m., I had been to exactly zero Olympic events. Zero. At every Olympiad, the kind folks of Sports Day take pity on a poor, downtrodden reporter from the Metropolitan staff and lets the reporter come along for the ride. This time, I’m the lucky one.

But instead of spending our time at the bottom of the slopes or at the end of the halfpipe, we Metro types are asked to write about everything non-sports-related at the Games. If there’s no puck, snowboard or bobsled involved, it’s our turf.

The result: I’ve become a mini-expert on 1840s Mormon migration patterns, Utah’s Jell-O fetish, pin trading, and Mormon-Hare Krishna relations. But I still couldn’t tell you what a Salchow is, or why curling is a more legitimate Olympic sport than shuffleboard.

Finally, on Wednesday night, I got a chance to see a few events. At first, I felt a bit like a fraud – what’s an education reporter doing sitting in the press box at a hockey game? – but I got over that awfully quick. Like somewhere around Team USA’s third goal in its 5-0 dismantling of Germany. I could get used to this job.

Joshua Benton