Thursday, November 19, 2009

Colbert to sponsor US Speedskating Team

2nd Blog post: Colbert Speedskating

On Monday, November 2nd on Stephen Colbert announced on his show, The Colbert Report, that he will officially be sponsoring the 2009 US Speedskating team. This bold move was a financial lifeline for the speedskating team, because their largest commercial sponsor, the Dutch Bank DSB, went bankrupt and left a $300,000 hole in the team’s budget. FYI- speedskating is very popular in the Netherlands.

One might ask why other sponsors didn’t line up to support this highly medal-bearing sport for the US. One reason is that speedskating isn’t exactly an American past time, and so doesn’t attract as much supporters. And of course the slump in the economy doesn’t help this unpopular winter sport’s chances as well.

But fans of the sport shouldn’t jump for joy just yet, as Colbert won’t be handing the team a check for any set amount. Over the next few weeks, the Comedy Central show will ask viewers to donate money to the patriotic cause- something the show has pulled off successfully in the past with the Yellow Ribbon Fund. Colbert viewers raised $240,000 for the cause, which assists injured service members and their families. With the Olympics less than 100 days away and a down economy, it will definitely be interesting to see how much the Colbert Nation can help raise.

One philosophical or ethical question that some have pondered is the involvement of a comedy show with a serious, athletic event. US Speedskating executive director Bob Crowley stressed to the Colbert staff that they have “exquisite athletes who have trained their entire lives for that Olympic platform…They can’t minimize that. They get it, and they recognize that.” Short track skater Katherine Reutter reminds skeptics, “We’re Olympic athletes, and that in itself deserves respect. But we race around in little circles in full-body spandex. There’s plenty of stuff to make fun of.”

Right now the long-track team is preparing for a competition in Berlin, while the short-trackers are in Montral for a meet.

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