Friday, July 27, 2012

Let The Games Begin

So I hear there’s some sporting event going on somewhere…

LONDON — These 2012 Olympics have been dubbed The Twitter Games, the first in history to feel a major impact from social media as athletes share everything from their patriotic feelings to their lunch choices with legions of followers. Already, a racist 140-character joke by Greece’s star triple jumper, Voula Papachristou, got her expelled from the Olympics on Wednesday, making her the first athlete in history to lose her spot for a social media posting.

On the brighter side, Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle, the man behind Friday’s Opening Ceremonies, was able to use Twitter to keep details of the show under wraps. After some details began to leak out at the beginning of the month, Boyle put a hashtag to the situation. He created #savethesurprise, which immediately went viral. The idea was to urge anyone who knew anything about the ceremony to keep it a secret. So far, it seems to be working.

A crowd of 60,000 watched a dress rehearsal of the ceremonies Wednesday night, and #savethesurprise was shown throughout the night on the jumbo screens, reminding those in attendance that the sharing of information or photos of the event was strictly prohibited.

For those of us who don’t have Twitter, we will have to settle for the carpet bombing coverage from NBC and its affiliated cable channels to get the latest tearjerker about some Olympian from a small village who carries the hope of his or her nation — and corporate sponsor — on their well-muscled shoulders.

Not to be too cynical about it, but four years ago during the Olympics from Beijing, I swear I heard one of the announcers say that they would try to squeeze in some actual live sporting events between the commercials and the sob stories. In 2008, I was in Ohio visiting my parents for some of the games, and thankfully their cable system carried a Canadian channel and I was actually able to see some sports without all the hype. To be sure, they did it up, too, but not in a way that made you want to get insulin treatments.

That said, good luck to all the competitors. Somewhere out there is an endorsement contract with your name on it.