The Olympics are seemingly custom-made for a kid audience: A celebration of amateurs…A field-day of fantastic proportions…A rendezvous of people from remote places…And a chance to see some of their favorite, but often under-broadcast sports performed on screen (soccer, gymnastics and swimming to name a few). Even kid favorites LeBron James (tied for second favorite athlete among 6-12 year olds) and Kobe Bryant (undisputed favorite among 6-12 year olds) make an appearance.
This year’s games not only take place in the land of boy bands like The Wanted and boy wonder Harry Potter, but both of these pop culture icons have already played a role in the torch relay and opening ceremonies, respectively (not to mention that the American women’s gymnastics team’s favorite boy band, One Direction, is rumored to be playing at the closing ceremonies).
On the other hand, this generation doesn’t relate to “appointment viewing” in the same way as previous cohorts. The “amateur” athlete might not be as relatable as he or she was in the past (can we really cheer for LeBron like he’s an underdog?). And when results are broadcast hours before an exciting race, is it still worth watching?
We conducted a poll of 100 kids and tweens ages 6 to 12 from our KidzEyes panel, and the results reminded us that the Olympics still matter to today’s youth. We asked if they were or were planning to watch the Olympics “a lot,” “a little”, “or “not at all”, and over half told us they planned to gander at these gold-seekers as much as possible!
Perhaps the true test of the Olympics’ salience will come in the next few years. Will Lochte replace LeBron as top sport among kids? Will gymnastics phenom Gabby Douglas – who might be relatable in age, but otherworldy in terms of talent – sustain her popularity among youth for the next four years? We’ll keep watching – alongside kids.