The Olympics are the pinnacle of sport.
There is no “arguably”, “perhaps” or “possibly” required in that sentence.
They. Just. Are.
However, the very qualities that make them unique – history, heroism and that higher purpose – could conspire to start loosening their grip on that No 1 position.
The Olympic “movement” – and that very word makes them unique – only truly let go of its amateur past in 1992 when the Dream Team swept all before them on the basketball court in Barcelona. The process had begun in the 1970s with the end of Avery Brundage’s term as IOC president and the financial problems of the Montreal games.
A key moment came in 1983 when the IOC reinstated the 1912 decathlon and pentathlon gold medals and nullified records of Jim Thorpe. Widely accepted as his country’s greatest all-round sportsman, the native American was penalised after accepting modest payments for playing minor league baseball. Unfortunately, the u-turn came 30 years after his death.
But despite a somewhat uneasy relationship with the norms of modern sport, the Olympics remain the Greatest Show on Earth and, having witnessed the London games at first hand, its ability to change a national psyche is unsurpassed. Yes, for a couple of blissful months back in late 2012, we felt openly proud to be British. It was an unprecedented moment in my lifetime.
The Olympics' ascent from the nadir of the 1970s had always been gradual but now, in relation to the whirlwind of change elsewhere in sport, the trajectory can look laboured. For example, the so-called revolution in social media at Rio ended up being seen as restrictive and pleased very few who were looking to innovate.
Still, in the content space, the Olympics have reacted to their obvious Achilles heel in their narrative – the gap between games. A dedicated TV station started after Brazil and they have developed an outstanding Instagram account.
Their historical split-screens are my favourite. They showcase the uniqueness of the event and its position at the summit of human endeavour. Whether it is contrasting the shot put gold medalists 100 years apart or pitching a 14-year-old Katie Ledecky to swim against herself four years later, it is the perfect platform for that sporting staple – comparison.
Every four years the world comes together to compete, and we see how far we have come. These posts offer a historical perspective over a longer time frame – it is a direct hit on the Olympics’ USP.
Then there are tales of courage. Danish rider Lis Hartel contracted polio at 23 leaving her paralysed from the knee down but she still went on to win a couple of silver medals. Snowboarder Chris Klug took a bronze medal in Salt Lake City just two years after a liver transplant. Their stories have been skillfully reflected.
It is not all in the “worthy” bracket. Great imagery is always worth posting, especially on Instagram. If you sprinkle in the inspiring phrase encapsulated in a pertinent Olympic moment (plus Usain Bolt being Usain Bolt) then you have a content stream that will keep you engaged in the fallow periods between the last closing ceremony and the next time that torch is ignited inside an expectant stadium.
It is not my gold medal Instagram account but it is certainly on the podium.
* What are your top three sports Instagram accounts? Let me know below
* Why I Love… is a regular series on MrRichardClarke.com celebrating excellence, innovation or just difference in digital sport. Criticism and deconstruction is easy, creativity and effective execution is hard. Let’s support those who concentrate on the latter.