Shaun Goodman ’23 reflects on his Olympic experiences, including his time in Tokyo

Goodman, a junior cinema and television arts major, traveled to Tokyo this summer to work as a runner assigned to an NBC digital team, where he edited video and collaborated with media industry professionals.

Shaun Goodman ’23 was eight years old when he first traveled outside of the United States. He remembers arriving at the Beijing airport and being greeted not by family or friends, but by life-size Olympics mascots. To Goodman, the joyful welcome truly symbolized the “Olympic spirit,” a concept introduced to him as a spectator of the 2008 Olympic Games.

While in Tokyo this summer, Shaun Goodman ’23 met up with Assistant Professor Max Negin, who was also working at the Olympic Games.

Since his first Olympic Games, the cinema and television arts major has traveled to attend three other Games as a spectator, including this summer, where he served as an intern for NBC for Tokyo 2020, helping to bring the worldwide athletic competition to 15.5 million fans watching each night.

“I feel immense pride in my role — especially for this Olympics — because fans were unfortunately not allowed to attend,” Goodman said. “I am so grateful I got this once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of something so historic and bigger than myself.”

‘Running’ for the Olympics

Goodman served as a runner assigned to the NBC digital team, which was primarily responsible for producing social media content during the Games. In his role, Goodman edited video, monitored the Discord platform and reported pirated content. While in Tokyo, Goodman encountered a familiar face: Assistant Professor Max Negin, who was also working the Games.

Goodman stands outside of the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo and mimics former Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

While every day brought new tasks and opportunities, Goodman said one of his favorite parts of the experience was meeting media industry professionals and learning about their jobs.

“I was able to go see the Olympic cauldron on a shoot with a videographer who was filming footage with a RED camera for prime-time coverage,” Goodman said. “If you watched the Olympics, you can probably recall those scenic shots of Tokyo that are placed right before and after commercial breaks. I met the guy who takes that footage and learned an extensive amount from him.”

Goodman also pin traded while he was in Tokyo, an Olympic tradition that began for him at the Beijing Olympics. Oftentimes, Goodman and the people he interacted with had to navigate a language barrier – yet they connected nonetheless.

Goodman trades pins with strangers while attending the 2012 Olympics in London.

“One time, a Japanese woman came up to me on the street and traded with me because she saw I was wearing a lanyard full of pins,” Goodman said. “I used to think pin trading was just a fun activity, but now I see how it truly represents the Olympic spirit in how it connects random strangers together through the joy and excitement of the Games.”

Looking ahead

While the Olympics have concluded, Goodman said he plans to take the experience and what he learned in Tokyo and bring it back to campus this fall. The Olympics inspired him, and he said it will certainly impact his post-graduation dream of working as a freelance videographer and photographer for clients such as NBC.

A young Shaun Goodman poses for a photograph while attending the Beijing Olympics.

Likewise, the Japanese culture — and the country’s warmth, kindness and care that he encountered — will stay with him. According to Goodman, it was common to see people showing that they cared for one another in tangible ways each day. It is that sense of togetherness he hopes to integrate into his own life and into the campus community.

“I never have been so far away from home yet felt so loved and cared for by strangers,” Goodman said. “In Japan, there is this custom of bowing. This is not only an act of respect but bowing is essentially a way to say, ‘I am grateful that you are here,’ whether it was done in the workspace, entering my hotel or on the street.

“I feel that back in the States I am going to be more empathetic to others,” Goodman added. “I am going to do my best to channel this Olympic spirit of togetherness and lead others with this care in mind.”