February 16

VIEW FROM AWAY: No escape from Olympic spoilers

Chicago Tribune

Are you saving yourself for the replay? Are you hoping, for example, to make it through your workday without finding out if Indiana’s Nick Goepper won Olympic gold in men’s slopestyle skiing hours before you got out of bed this morning?

Good luck with that.

The people who were up at 3 a.m. to watch the event live — to be fair, it wasn’t 3 a.m. for all of them — have been tweeting, texting, emailing and Facebooking about it ever since Goepper ** SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! ** just kidding; we’re not going to blab it here. You’re welcome.

If you’ve managed to avoid all those other spoilers, from the news alerts on your phone to the babbling of fellow passengers on the train, then you’ve pulled off the spectator’s equivalent of a triple cork. But the day is young.

On Wednesday, there was a palpable tension between the people who didn’t yet know whether Chicagoan Shani Davis had won an unprecedented third gold medal in the 1,000-meter speedskating event and ** STOP READING RIGHT NOW IF YOU STILL DON’T KNOW ** the rest of us, who were buzzing about his ** WE TOLD YOU TO STOP READING ** disappointing eighth-place finish.

Thanks to our many gadgets, we’ve gotten used to the idea that we can watch things at our convenience. We can witness a sporting event unfolding 10 time zones away. Or we can wait and watch it at a more civilized hour, through the miracle of digital replay.

But we can’t stop the people who know what happened from spoiling things for the ones who don’t.

This doesn’t apply only to the Olympics, by the way. We were dismayed Tuesday night to learn via Twitter that the Westminster Kennel Club had awarded best in show to ** SPOILER ALERT ** a wire-haired fox terrier. So much for the DVR.

But dodging the dog-show spoilers is a lot easier than avoiding Olympic updates. There are thousands of journalists in Sochi, after all, and their job is to relay the results as fast as they can. The race itself may be entertainment, but the winner is news. It’s what we do.

So what can you do if you want to watch the replay as if it were in real time? Not much. You can find many laughable suggestions by Googling “how to avoid Olympic spoilers.” You can filter your email. You can download spoiler-screening apps for all your gadgets.

You can unplug, unfollow, unfriend, unsubscribe. But you cannot unhear. If you somehow pull off a total media blackout, you still run the risk of learning the results of the biathlon from some random loudmouth in Starbucks.

If you want to watch the games without knowing the results, your choice, really, is to stay up all night watching the livestream — or spend the next 10 days cursing your gadgets and your co-workers. The Olympics are the coolest thing happening in the world right now. There’s no way to keep that quiet.

Editorial by the Chicago Tribune
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