Olympics 2012: Are results spoilers inevitable?

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 31, 2012 

Olympic anti-spoiler campaigns have just as much promise as efforts to remove bikinis from beach volleyball competitions.

It ain't gonna happen.

The intentions are honorable. It's nice to imagine an eager community of prime-time viewers, all of whom boast a blank slate of knowledge untainted by that evil beast called Twitter.

But, um, it's 2012. Our phones, complete with social media feeds and breaking news alerts, might as well be surgically attached to our palms. If you're not constantly "wired in," you're likely surrounded by people who are -- and love to brag about it. Avoiding major international news for hours pretty much requires total isolation.

I knew NBC would tape-delay Saturday's anticipated Michael Phelps-Ryan Lochte swimming showdown and not air it until prime-time.

I didn't complain when I received a text alert revealing the outcome Saturday afternoon. Or when a major news organization had the result as the lead story on its website hours before the race aired, no "spoiler alert" present.

But I took some heat when I posted the Phelps-Lochte outcome on the Ledger's Facebook page before the tape-delayed race aired on TV.

"Is there any way that we can not post about who won major events until it's shown on TV? I know that there's a time difference between when it happens and when it's shown, but spoilers on my Facebook feed are NOT appreciated," one reader wrote.

Whoops. When you're in front of a computer all day with a job that focuses on social media, it's easy to be cynical about someone's ability to avoid spoilers.

After all, you can "hide" spoiler-obsessed friends from your Facebook feed. Twitter doesn't have a way to filter certain terms, but the website The Daily Dot recently noted that some third-party apps like TweetDeck allow you to do so.

A day after the Phelps-Lochte controversy went down, I stumbled upon another Olympic "spoiler." Hours before it was scheduled to air in prime-time, I learned U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber shockingly didn't qualify for the individual all-around final.

I still watched. Seeing the show in prime-time made for comments about quirky gymnastics parents and the utter lack of tact that came with interviewing an advancing gymnast while Wieber cried in the background.

In the "new normal" of prime-time Olympic viewing, could event outcome become an afterthought? Hey, I watched women play beach volleyball in long sleeves on Sunday. Anything is possible.

Sonya Sorich can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516.

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