Olympic visitors are in for a treat

Salt Lake City is well-kept secret, says NBC director

Having traveled extensively around the world and having directed television coverage of major sporting events, Andy Rosenberg believes the world is in for a treat when visitors and athletes converge on Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympics in February.

Andy Rosenberg and his wife, Shari, take a quick glimpse of Snow Basin where he will direct coverage of downhill events during 2002 Winter Olympics.
Andy Rosenberg and his wife, Shari, take a quick glimpse of Snow Basin where he will direct coverage of downhill events during 2002 Winter Olympics. Credit: Photo by Jason Olson

“The Olympics in Salt Lake City will be an eye opener for the world,” he said. “Others will be able to see Utah and the Church as it is, and not as typically portrayed by the media. I’m excited for others to see the Church in a different light.

“Those living in Utah appreciate what there is, but others don’t know. Salt Lake City is a well-kept secret. People around the world will be disarmed by the sincerity, kindness, beauty of Utah and ability of Utah residents to speak different languages.

“There is a great story to be told here, and I’m excited for the exposure the Olympics will bring for the Church,” he said.

He and his wife, Shari, reside in Connecticut and are members of the Stamford 1st Ward, Yorktown New York Stake. He is a director with NBC Sports who has covered track and field events for the past four summer Olympics. He has also directed coverage of the NBA finals, Wimbledon and the World Series.

He will direct coverage of the downhill events at Snow Basin and the giant slalom in Park City this winter, his first winter Olympics coverage.

But more than the 11 Emmy Awards he has garnered for past coverage, he prizes his membership in the Church.

“I grew up in a suburb of Boston in a household that practiced a relaxed following of the reform Jewish law,” he said. “My grandparents were Conservative Jews who attended temple regularly. Judaism was an important fabric of their life.”

As he grew older and failed to receive answers to satisfy his religious curiosity, he began to see religion as something good for his parents and grandparents, but not for himself.

Several years after college, while directing coverage of a golf tournament in Hawaii, his television crew introduced a newly hired graphics operator to him by simply saying, “This is Shari. She’s a Mormon.”

During the next few years he came to appreciate her effervescent happiness and deep-rooted religious convictions. A convert to the Church herself, Shari answered his questions as best as she could.

During the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, when there were few other people who spoke the same language, they worked together and became closer friends. “I got to know her as a nice person and not as someone who was first known for her religion,” he said. “There was something in what she talked about that motivated me to learn more.”

One evening about a year later, they were talking cross country by phone — she from her home in Pasadena, Calif., and he from his home in Connecticut. During the conversation the door bell rang. He answered the door while she waited on the line.

“They were missionaries from a different church,” he said when he returned. “If they had been missionaries from your Church, I would have let them in.”

“I can take care of that,” she said, and called the New York mission office the next day. Within several days, missionaries visited at his home.

“I felt compelled to read the Book of Mormon,” he said. “Somehow I knew that if the Book of Mormon was true, everything else would fall into place. All was new to me. In the course of praying, I became more thoughtful and desired to know truth.”

His six-month commitment to study the gospel was rewarded with a testimony. He was baptized in December 1989, and married Shari in July 1991 in the Salt Lake Temple. “She is the classic better half,” he said.

They have two children, Douglas and Emily, from his previous marriage.

While his work often takes him from home for extended times, it also allows him opportunity to visit the temple in the major cities where he works. “I make every effort to attend Church meetings on Sunday before the broadcast,” he said. He sometimes attends with professional member athletes.

“Two years ago serving as a stake missionary was a wonderful spiritual boost,” he said. “It’s a great confidence builder.” When he’s home, he uses his spare time to do family history work. “I’ve felt strong influences that my ancestors are accepting this work,” he said.

Discovering the gospel continues to be a joyous adventure. He said that while studying the New Testament and the life of the Savior last year with his wife, who is the stake Young Single Adult institute instructor, his “testimony grew exponentially.” The Rosenbergs were among the 11,000 other instructors who attended the Church Educational System seminar at BYU in August.

“When the world comes for the Olympics,” he said, “they will be pleasantly surprised. They will not find a small religious group, but a world Church.”

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