Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


September 13, 2012

COLUMN: Internet robbed fans of Olympic surprises

Note to the electronic media universe: you are the annoying person who attends a movie premiere and then tells everyone what happened in the movie. And your need to broadcast to everyone what you know has marred my Olympic enjoyment.

As an avid sports fan in a city whose professional baseball team currently gives her no reason to watch it, the sole sports highlight of the summer was the Olympics. The dates were circled on my calendar since my NHL hockey team exited the playoffs in the first round. I purposely had no social events planned for 16 days, and I started every conversation with, “Don’t tell me what happened!”

I realize that not everyone shares this passion, but there are enough of us who do that the media could have been a little more considerate.

Obviously, the international venues of each Olympic Games makes it impossible for most events to be shown live at a time when people can view them. And just as understandable is the newsworthiness of the Games and particular athletes and events. I also readily concede that perhaps the majority of sports fans in general do not care if they know the results before the events are aired. But even if we “Olympic-obsessors” are a minority, we are a large minority. Television contracts prove this: if people did not care about watching events after they happen, NBC would not devote nightly primetime coverage to them.

Thirty years ago, if you wanted to see an event on television, you had to first hope it was being aired, and then be watching it at the time it was shown. Now, digital video recorders can capture every minute of television coverage for you to watch at your convenience. Similarly, if you wanted to avoid learning results, you simply had to turn off the news. Even the news outlets of competing stations would announce that they were about to report results, allowing the viewer the chance to change the channel. There was more consideration for fans then. Occasionally, a radio station would violate that code of courtesy, but for the most part, if you actively tried to avoid hearing results, you could.

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