Past The Press Box

The 'Twitter Olympics'? Not with taped delay.

Last week brought some terrible, terrible news—news that the Olympics on NBC has received phenomenal ratings, even beating out American Idol. Prior to that, American Idol hadn't been beaten in six years. That's on you America. Back to the point, NBC will likely continue its policy of not airing major events live, instead broadcasting them at two different times to the American public. Maybe you haven't noticed, but fans—while watching—haven't reacted all that well. So, does NBC care as long as people are watching? Of course not. But let's look at one area where this could be hurting: social media.

Prior to the Games, Bob Condron, the Director of Media Services for the United States Olympic Committee, proclaimed that these would be the 'Twitter Olympics' due to loose restrictions on athletes' use of social media.

For those who you who use Twitter to follow and, more importantly, discuss sports, does it seem as though the use of Twitter has been all that prominent surrounding these Olympics? Certainly not.

In one of my first posts on this blog, I wrote about how the NBA's rise in popularity and it's potential link to the growing prominence of social media was less about its use by athletes and more about the high level of conversation taking place amongst fans. This is the same thing.

For a sporting event to reach its full potential in the world of social media, there has to be a great amount of discussion amongs fans. The Olympics simply don't have that. Olympic news currently comes in three different waves: when it actually happens, the East Coast broadcast, and finally the West Coast broadcast. It is absolutely impossible to have a good conversation when everyone has is at a different wave. Some people may have just heard the results, some people may have heard the results and seen it, then there are others who have no news. Breaking up an event like this greatly reduces the amount of conversation.

For someone who follows along on Twitter with every sporting event possible, I refuse to do so with the Olympics. During the day, I try to avoid the results and then once I have it on in the background at night, during the West Coast airing, no one is talking about it. So yes, I continue to watch, while being sorely disappointed. The other day NBC aired an extended piece on the 1980 Olympic hockey team instead of showing the live USA-Canada. I don't care if the ratings are somehow higher. This lunacy has to stop.

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The American Sportswriter_