With the Winter Olympics starting up on February 12 in Vancouver, I started thinking about my love for the Games. I've long been a big Olympics fan, more so the Winter than Summer (snow just rocks!) My primary window of interest was probably with the 1984-1992 series of Games, back when both the Winter/Summer events were always paired and held 4 years apart, rather than the staggered schedule that started with Winter in '94, Summer in '96, Winter in '98, etc.

2010 Winter Olympics (NBC) // Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

2010 Winter Olympics (NBC)

Believe it or not, I was an avid Olympic lapel pin collector during this period of time, sending off tons of letters to sponsoring Olympic companies, asking to send me a pin. Most did, which was surprising! All this reminds me of the last time the Winter Olympics were hosted in Canada… back in 1988 in Calgary.

1988 Winter Olympics (ABC) // Calgary, Alberta, Canada

1988 Winter Olympics (ABC)

As I thought about that, I remember a different time when I watched A LOT of the Games broadcast on TV. No, it wasn't on NBC, this was back when ABC had the rights, hosted by that great sports journalist, Jim McKay. Sure, we didn't have the tons of hours of coverage that we have today on broadcast, cable, and Internet sources. But I think what that era of broadcasting had, especially during ABC's long Olympic run, was a better respect for the specialness of the event. Maybe that was because we didn't have an Olympics every 2 years like we do now… it was a bigger deal.

The Faces of the Games

The Faces of the Games

As I looked back, it's interesting to note that in many cases, one's perception of an Olympics is framed by those who host it from a broadcaster perceptive. For example, during the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, it was McKay's newsman persona that guided the world through the event. At the same time, when NBC acquired the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Bryant Gumbel was the main face of the experience… and was highly criticized for the way he hosted. CBS had a run in the early 90s with the Winter Olympics featuring Paula Zahn, Tim McCarver, Greg Gumbel, and eventually Jim Nantz. Most Americans now would probably associate Bob Costas with anchoring the Olympics. And though he navigated us through the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, he'll never top Jim in the "disasters at Olympics" department.

While the logos and branding for all these Olympics have been well documented, one thing I think that has been greatly overlooked is the custom logos that each Olympic broadcaster created for their event, specifically here in the United States. Looking through these logos almost tells a story in itself regarding corporate ambitions, rights changing hands, dominance by networks, and various graphical philosophies.

As we look ahead to the Games in Vancouver, I'm going to be sharing examples of these Olympic broadcaster logos and hopefully provide some context along the way. It should be fun!