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Spoiler Alert!

U.S. Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team 2012Why the #NBCFail Doesn’t Matter

Four years ago my best friend and I fell in love with mens swimming at the Beijing Olympics. We had two weeks off of work before heading back to our senior year of college and we spent prime time watching Michael Phelps capture his record 8 gold medals every evening.

In 2008, neither of us had a Twitter account. We were on Facebook, but were solely using it to communicate with our friends from college and family members back home. And we weren’t sitting on a computer all day at work.

When we saw Jason Lezak pull ahead of the French to give Phelps his second gold medal during the 4×100-m relay and saw the seventh medal come after  Phelps outtouched Milorad Cavic by 1/100 of a second we hadn’t heard anything about the races. We were on the edge of our seats as we hoped to see history and celebrated as Phelps and his relay teammates delivered.

Fast-forward four years. I’m working in public relations. My twitter feed is ever-present on my computer screen. I ‘like’ businesses, brands and news outlets on Facebook. The world has gotten smaller, somehow, as I routinely see tweets or Facebook posts from friends living across the globe. Some are streaming Olympic events as they work, others are actually at the games themselves.

We’ve never been in a position to hold off on tweeting our excitement about an event. As a huge Notre Dame football fan, I am entirely too guilty of live tweeting my reactions to games during the Fall. They air in realtime, so I’ve never had a reason not to tweet even though I know some friends are tape delaying them. They know what I do and tweet on any given Saturday afternoon in the Fall and if they don’t want to know what happened they avoid my twitter handle.

So, why – knowing that I do it myself during certain sporting events – did I get incredibly annoyed when I saw tweets from the friends congratulating the American women on gymnastics gold  and Phelps as he swam into history with his 19th medal?

There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not NBC is doing the right thing tape delaying Olympic events to air in prime time – but how many people can watch the mens 50m Freestyle Final at 3:09 pm, or the Brazil v. Russia mens basketball game at 11:45 am today?

I’m not completely ethnocentric. I understand that when it’s 11:45 am in the eastern United States, it’s 4:45 in London and they’re perfectly entitled to tweet the results of an event in real time. But I want to watch the events and I can’t do that during my work day, so I enjoy the prime time coverage.

But on Tuesday night, I knew the results of the gymnastics and swimming events by 5 pm. What was the point of even watching?

I decided to watch anyway and holy cow! It’s one thing to know that the women are going to win gold in gymnastics, it’s quite another to watch McKayla Maroney stick it on her insane vault. Having a spoiler that the girls win made it even more adorable when Aly Raisman joined hands with her team to wait for the score of her floor exercise and asked “What do we need” to win gold? The ladies were 5 points ahead of Russia.

Swimming was less exciting, due to the nature of the sport. Races are anxiety-inducing, but knowing that Phelps took silver in his first event of the night cut the anticipation as he began to pull up on the eventual gold medalist. But when the mens relay team had two body lengths on the silver medalists and Phelps was going to pick up his 19th medal, knowing the outcome didn’t stop the chills that the event produced.

NBC apologized for another spoiler alert after airing a promo on Monday night with Missy Franklin celebrating her gold medal with her parents right before airing the race she won the medal in. They got a lot of flack for accidentally doing that, but I want to ask everyone if that really ruined the excitement of watching her win her first gold medal. Of course it didn’t.

The world is changing and unless the Olympics are in a United States time zone, this problem is going to occur every 2 years. Spoilers will be posted online, broadcasters will make mistakes and people will still watch. And we will still be excited and we will still celebrate with our athletes on the podium regardless of if we knew that they won the medal five minutes or five hours before the medal ceremony.

Honestly, if there is any #NBCFail that actually does annoy me (more than the blonde who keeps asking really inane questions of our swimmers) it’s that we haven’t seen enough medal ceremonies. We were spoiled when they showed all eight of Phelps medal ceremonies in 2008 – it instills a sense of national pride (and induces more than a few tears) when we can hear the Star Spangled Banner along with our gold medal athletes – so come on NBC, let’s be patriotic!

Post By Liz Harter (70 Posts)

Liz Harter has a degree in English Writing with a minor in Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. She is an award winning journalist on the collegiate level with a strong background in journalism. She currently works in PR and is a social media autodidact Google+

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About the Author

Liz Harter has a degree in English Writing with a minor in Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. She is an award winning journalist on the collegiate level with a strong background in journalism. She currently works in PR and is a social media autodidact Google+

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