Soldiers view Olympics at camp sports lounge
By Pfc. Leah R. Burton
28th Public Affairs Detachment
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Whether it is from the ancient plains of Olympia, from the comfort of one's living room, or from the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Sports Lounge on LSA Anaconda, since the inception of the Olympic games in 776 B.C., Soldiers have been watching displays of extraordinary achievement and noble competition.
Sunday is the last day that Soldiers, civilians and contractors can enjoy the spirit of rooting for their country in events ranging from archery to wrestling while relaxing in an air-conditioned MWR tent.
"We provide this service to support what's going on in the world, because everybody watches the Olympics. Not all Soldiers have access to TV where they live. That's why we're here," said Nerissa Hives, MWR coordinator.
Some people have watched the Olympics every four years since they were old enough to understand it.
Deployment doesn't have to be a reason to miss out on this tradition.
"I've watched the Olympics every year since I was a kid. I watch it here every chance I get," said Spc. Desmond Smith, 276th Engineer Battalion, who works as a track and field coach stateside. "I coach athletes who have a chance to end up going to the Olympics, so I have a personal interest in it, and this is the only way I can see it."
The MWR Sports Lounge has two large screen televisions for the purpose of watching sports. The staff looks up the programming schedule online every day and makes a conscious decision as to what they will show.
"We gear to sports first. If sports are not on or people don't want to watch sports, then we go to news, but sports is our priority," Hives said.
If the majority of people in the facility don't want to see what's showing, they need only ask an MWR coordinator to change the channel. The facility is equipped with one receiver for both televisions, so they both show the same programming. While patrons are enjoying the Olympics or whatever program is on, the MWR staff provides free water, soda and potato chips.
Patrons can also play cards, board games, pool, foosball and dominoes in the MWR recreation tent. The MWR staff coordinates tournaments in these games.
The recreation tent staff also shows three movies a day of random choosing.
Patrons can check e-mail or surf the World Wide Web in the MWR Internet Café tent next door.
In addition, patrons can dance and unwind at the various themed music nights at the MWR sports lounge
"The facilities give Soldiers a place to relax and give them a sense of normalcy, being able to sit around with friends, play cards and relax," said Hives.
The facilities will be consolidated and expanded in coming weeks when the new accommodations are completed.
All the MWR tents are between New Jersey and New York Avenues behind the Post Exchange.
The facilities are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Editors Note: Pfc. Burton is a member of the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. She is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.