The Official Spoiler Rules

Many people are outraged that NBC isn’t showing live Olympic events. While it’d be great on the weekends, I put in my 8 hours during the day and wouldn’t be able to watch them anyways. However, I’m torn as what is the best way to do things? Throw the money aspect aside (which is easier for me to say, than, say the programming director for NBC). Should they be showing events live on television? Or should they be doing what they are doing and showing them on tape delay at 7 PM.

As someone who’s developed into a giant English soccer fan over the past two years, I have adjusted my schedule to follow the Arsenal. On most weekends from middle of August until the middle of May, you’ll find me waking up sometimes as early as 6:30 AM to watch a big Saturday match (t-minus 18 days until the start of the season in case you were wondering). Unfortunately, though, they play some huge games (mostly Champions League) on Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s at 1:30 PM. I find myself either listening to a radio stream on my iPhone or taping the game, avoiding any social networking sites, and watching it later on.

Point is, when the Olympics is being played in a time zone anywhere from 5-8 hrs ahead of where you are (assuming you are somewhere in the continental 48), it’s difficult to have 100% live coverage. I was bummed the 2016 Olympics wound up in Rio rather than Chicago, but the good news is it will at least be (for the most part) live.

My main problem with how this Olympics has been covered has been the unnecessary spoilers. I recall past Olympics held overseas. When I was watching the local news, the anchor would say something to the effect of “…we’ve got the results to the women’s figure gymnastics tonight. If you don’t want to know the results, look away from the screen for a few seconds.” I thought it was the best way to cover it. They did their job in covering the news, but they politely went out of their way not to spoil it for those who didn’t want it to be spoiled. Yesterday after work, my daughter was taking a nap, so I decided to watch some obscure Olympic events on the DirecTV channels I didn’t even realize I got. After watching a USA women win the bronze medal in Judo (a sport, I’ve determined, with rules that make very little to no sense), they starting to cover rowing. Looking for something that was maybe a little more exciting, I switched over to PTI. The good thing about watching PTI is they’ve got the categories listed on the right hand side. So if I see anything Olympic related, I can either mute the tv or just switch the channel for 2-3 minutes and be safe. That is, until the Bottom freaking Line says “Ryan Lochte finishes 4th in 200m freestyle.” Really ESPN? Thanks. Trying to avoid any other spoilers, I just clicked the “Channel Up” button on my remote to get off that channel. On ESPNEWS, they’ve got a picture of John Orozco from the US Olympic team falling on a vault. I’d gone out of my way to avoid social media all day. I hadn’t visited any websites. I’ve consciously tried to avoid spoilers. And now, I’ve had possibly two of the biggest three events of the evening spoiled for me. The only lesson I’ve learned is that I can’t watch any ESPN for the next 12 days.

Finally, we make it to the 7 o’clock hour where the prime time coverage is shown. I know Lochte isn’t going to win, so that even was a bit of a bummer. I’m assuming the US men’s team isn’t going to win just because ESPNEWS flashed a picture of a guy falling rather than the team celebrating together. My event I was looking forward to was watching was Missy Franklin who had a semifinal and final all within 10 minutes. And, unbelievably, NBC managed to spoil that for me before hand by showing a preview of the Today show which was going to feature Missy Franklin and her gold medal. Her gold medal, that, until now, I didn’t know she was going to win.

No matter what you do, it’s almost impossible for these Olympic games not to be spoiled for you. These are being called the “social media Olympics” yet I find myself avoiding all forms of social media as much as possible. I love Twitter as much as the next guy, but why would I want to get on Twitter knowing that a) I may have Olympic events spoiled for me and b) anything I have to say is old news to people out there who’ve known the results for 10 hours.

My problem isn’t people commenting about things on websites and/or Twitter. Why are mainstream shows giving results away without the common courtesy of a spoiler warning? Imagine if this happened in other aspects of life. Could you have imagined picking up a newspaper in 1995 and seeing a movie review with the headline “Kevin Spacey is Keysor Soze.”

Without further ado, here are the soon to be adopted as official spoiler rules:

  1. We’ve got to create a “24-hour DVR rule” where we can’t spoil obvious things tv shows. Discussion of television shows is allowed during this 24 hours, but only the vaguest of comments that is guaranteed not to spoil anything. Example, an appropriate tweet/status update would be – “Unreal episode of Sopranos tonight… can’t wait to see how the family responds next week” is appropriate. “I can’t believe Tony killed Christopher” would not be.
  2. For network or major cable shows, it is fair game to discuss spoilers after the 24 hour DVR waiting period. However, after about 1 month, you must table any spoiler discussion as people who are getting into the show later on dvd/Netflix/etc
  3. You must wait for 1 year after the final season of a show is released on dvd/Netflix before spoiling a show on a channel that not everyone gets (i.e. AMC, Showtime, HBO).
  4. Sporting events fall under the clause where you can’t talk about a taped delay event before it is aired in a format where the masses can see it. NBC may be streaming the Olympics online, but people with jobs can’t watch it. It doesn’t count until it’s on tv.
  5. Movies are a tricky subject. If the movie is one of the top 10 box offices movies of the year, you may talk about it after one week. If the movie is an obscure release, you have to wait until approximately 1-2 months after it is released on Netflix.
  6. For the most part, books are exempt from these rules. One exception would be book series that are so big they are printed in approximately 100 different languages (Hungry Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, etc.) However, as soon as a book is announced as a movie, the rules for movie spoilers apply. Just because you’ve read the book doesn’t mean you can spoil for those that haven’t. It wouldn’t have been fair to stand in line for the sixth Harry Potter and ask aloud “I wonder how they’ll handle the scene where Dumbledore dies at the end.”
  7. Any link that contains the words “SPOILER ALERT” in clear and capital letters sneaks by all of these rules. If you are dumb enough to click on a link that says “SPOILER ALERT,” you deserve to have things spoiled.

Feel free to add ideas you have to these comments. Good ideas may be considered for the 2.0 version of these spoiler rules.

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