Tokyo — Alone at the Olympics.
How does that happen?
Why does that happen?
Saturday morning in Tokyo, I covered the Team USA vs. ROC women's volleyball game. The U.S. is the top-ranked team in the world and was undefeated. ROC won in three sets, as Edina's Jordan Thompson, a rising American star, injured her ankle.
I went to the mix-zone for interviews. The mix-zone is where athletes and coaches parade by reporters and some stop — or are stopped — to talk. I was the only one there, the only reporter working for a media company.
Sure, the match wasn't that important — both teams will advance from pool play. But I've covered Timberwolves-Kings games that were meaningless and the press seats and locker room are still packed with reporters.
So why was I alone?
- Unless you have a local interest (like Thompson), volleyball doesn't command much attention until the knockout round of the tournament.
- Volleyball doesn't rank with the glamour sports of the summer Olympics: swimming, gymnastics and track.
- Volleyball isn't a cool new oddity to be explored, like skateboarding or 3-on-3 basketball.
- There are far fewer American reporters here than at any Olympics I can remember, and if I hadn't been interested in Thompson, I wouldn't have covered the match, either.
So, I got to talk with U.S. coach Karch Kiraly.