Times Insider delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how news, features and opinion come together at The New York Times. In this piece, the deputy sports editor Jay Schreiber introduces readers to the scene in Rio de Janeiro on the eve of the Summer Olympics.
I’ve been an editor in The New York Times sports department for 25 years and, until now, my presence at major sports events outside the United States has consisted of exactly two moments, one of them real, one of them essentially make-believe.
Last summer I flew to Winnipeg with one of my daughters to watch the American soccer team play a first-round game in the Women’s World Cup. That was the real experience. The pretend one happened four years earlier, in Montpellier, France, where I stood on a sidewalk with both of my daughters and my wife, our luggage spread around us, and used a Blackberry to track a dramatic victory by the American women in the 2011 Cup. The game was being played next door in Germany, which sort of made us feel like we were there. Except we weren’t.
Put these two experiences together and — that’s it! — you get my meager international resume. This, of course, makes me the perfect outsider for an inside look at the Summer Olympics set to begin on Friday in Rio de Janeiro.
I arrived Monday morning after an overnight flight from New York and had not even found my way out of the airport when I was greeted with a “Welcome to Hell” sign from a group of disgruntled workers.
It was actually a two-tiered protest that included subway workers threatening a strike as the Olympics approached, and aircraft maintenance mechanics making the point that it wouldn’t be so smart to phase out their jobs….