For the Olympics, we’ll be sleepless in Seoul

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For the Olympics, we’ll be sleepless in Seoul

It’s about time for sports fans to wake up and get into the excitement. While the European football championship (Euro 2012) is still going on, the highly anticipated London Olympics is also less than 50 days away.

But for those who live in Korea, enjoying these events may not be easy. That’s right. Koreans have to stay up overnight to enjoy sports happening in Europe. Sometimes living in a faraway part of the world can be a hassle.

For instance, the group campaigns of Euro 2012 start at either 1 a.m. or 3:45 a.m. No school or work next morning? No problem. But for many adults, there’s a price to pay for watching these sporting events.

Last Sunday, especially, was full of sports events and probably many had to juggle what to watch until late into the night, forgetting what Monday would be like on their way to work.

There was the French Open men’s final with Novak Djokovic versus Rafael Nadal and Euro 2012 Group B action - Spain versus Italy. The events were broadcast on television and also could be streamed online.

I eventually ended up watching the football match between Spain and Italy, since the tennis final at Roland Garros was postponed due to rain. The high-level football match between two European giants ended in a 1-1 draw, but it was so exciting to watch that I didn’t realize how fast the time went.

The match ended about 2:50 a.m. Monday, Korean Standard Time. From there, I could have waited about an hour to watch another Euro football match, Croatia versus Ireland, or turned to the Wegmans LPGA Championship to watch how Korean women were doing in the final round.

In the end, I had to go to bed to catch some sleep before work. And besides, I was tired.

Whenever there’s a major international event overseas, it reminds me of my younger days and begs the question: Are male students in Korea more vulnerable when there is an international sporting event like the World Cup or Olympics broadcast into the wee hours?

When I was in middle school, I remember watching Euro 2000 until late into the night.

This may sound like an excuse, but I take responsibility for not doing particularly well on my midterm exam after watching Euro 2000 instead of getting my rest.

Interestingly, my friends who also like sports, reported similar downward trends on their test scores. Our female classmates suffered no such decline.

Of course, this is just my own case and obviously it’s my fault for not studying harder. But it would be very interesting to see some scientific research on this topic.

When I say to others that I stayed awake until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. to watch sport events, one of my friends told me: “You could have watched the game in highlights on the Internet or the delayed broadcast today. Why push yourself to fatigue?”

True enough. I could have not stayed up and gone to bed early to be fresh for the next morning, for things like an important test. But personally, I think the excitement of sports comes from watching live coverage and seeing magnificent and unpredictable plays unfold as they happen.

Watching prerecorded action can still bring excitement if you don’t know the score in advance. But these days, it’s very difficult to avoid seeing results on the Web or TV.

In my experience, watching sports when I know the result is not all that much fun, more or less like knowing how the move ends.

This summer, many Koreans will have insomnia watching fellow countrymen like Park Tae-hwan or Jang Mi-ran competing in London. And I assume many will appear red-eyed at work while some may have hard time with their studies.

What I hope is that Korean athletes perform well in London because many of us will sacrifice sleep to support them. And for fans, prepare yourself to adjust to late nights, because from July 27 to August 12, you have to feel the Olympic vibe live.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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