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From 'Hunger Games' to 'Call Me Maybe,' how athletes sell Olympic sports (+video)

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Well, there won't be a party on Boston's City Hall Plaza. Morehouse fell in the quarterfinals of the men's individual saber in London Sunday, though he'll get another shot at a medal in the team competition Friday.   

Morehouse's story of salesmanship is a familiar one to most Olympic athletes, who are really more than athletes. They are pitchmen and missionaries, athletic Don Quixotes who tilt against the windmills of American indifference. They make YouTube videos they hope will go viral, they do nationwide tours, they drop by gym classes at local elementary schools – all in the hope that, one day, their sport might not once again slip into obscurity the moment the Olympic flame is extinguished. 

Swimmers go viral on YouTube

Consider: In 2004, fresh off a six-gold-medal performance in Athens, Michael Phelps headlined Disney's Swim With the Stars, an eight-stop tour to help teach young kids. In non-Olympic years, USA Swimming holds a "Duel in the Pool" meet to try to keep Americans engaged. And this year, before the London Games, the members of the US swim team made a YouTube video of them lip-syncing "Call Me Maybe," saying, "We’re going to make it viral," according to USA Today. (See video at end of story.) 

And this is swimming, America's glamor sport at Summer Olympics. If Michael Phelps can't make Americans pay more attention to swimming than to the National Football League waiver wire, then what hope do other sports have?

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