The Ottumwa Courier

August 4, 2012

Spoiled big time

Reporter's Notebook

Courier copy editor

OTTUMWA — Starting with the opening ceremonies, I have been a self-proclaimed 2012 London Olympics junkie. As I eat my meals, do my chores, get ready for work and even lay down to relax, the Olympics have been on in the background.

I have watched sports I’ve never watched before in my life — archery, kayaking, badmiton, water polo — and have gotten as excited for them as I did watching my beloved Hawkeyes in the Orange Bowl. I’ve also spent several hours watching swimming, indoor volleyball and beach volleyball.

But the one sport I was looking forward to the most was gymnastics, especially the women’s events.

Since we’re six hours behind London time and NBC has been doing delayed broadcasting on the gymnastics events, there are bound to be spoilers out there. But I had been fortunate in avoiding spoilers. I like to, as George’s dad says in an episode of “Seinfeld,” go into it fresh.

I made it through the qualifications fresh. I made it through the team finals fresh. I even made it through the men’s all-around final fresh. Then Thursday came, and my luck ran out. The result of the women’s all-around, the event I was looking forward to the most, was spoiled for me.

I had to check an important email that afternoon in my hotmail account. Once I was finished, I clicked “sign out.” I was then automatically redirected to MSN’s homepage, and there it was, front and center: “Gabby wins gold, makes history” with a picture of the Des Moines-based gymnast flashing her gold medal.

I was angry and frustrated. I had been able to avoid so many spoilers, but I wasn’t able to go into my favorite event “fresh.”

Being in the newspaper business, I don’t begrudge MSN’s website for wanting to get the news out there. We are, after all, in the digital age. But is it too much to ask to instead use an in-competition photo and a headline such as “Gymnastics results are in — Did an American pull it off?” so that those of us who want to wait for the broadcast aren’t spoiled? Or maybe, with social media and live streaming everywhere, the networks shouldn’t worry so much about delaying events to prime time and show them live, no matter when that time may be.

I did my part. I’ve been mostly avoiding Facebook. I’ve been avoiding ESPN. I ask my coworkers who know the results not to tell me. I even avoid reading Olympic stories from the Associated Press while working at the newspaper. It’s hard to believe that something as routine as signing out of my email account proved the spoiler for me.

I still watched Thursday night. I only knew who won the gold, so all was not lost. But a lot of the drama, excitement, adrenaline and nervousness were gone. I was no longer completely “fresh.” I was spoiled.

Tracy Goldizen is a copy editor for the Ottumwa Courier.