On Thursday, the world of social media was flooded with clips and photos of the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics hosted in PyeongChang, South Korea. The official coverage by NBC of the opening of the winter games was broadcast on tape delay Friday night (EST). You’ll find that despite being promoted as “live” coverage most of what you’ll be watching will be live-to-tape. You can tune in to actual live coverage if you’re interested in watching in the middle of the night. You need to remember that South Korea is 14 hours ahead of those of us on the east coast of the United States; if you truly want to be surprised you’ll have to avoid looking at social media.
The impact of social media on how we watch the games makes me think of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002. You may be old enough to realize that 2002 was two years before the founding of Facebook and five years before Twitter. You didn’t have social media to spoil things. I was still working in news back then and was lucky to have access to the Associated Press wire service that alerted us in real time as the winners were announced for each event. At times we were under embargo by our parent company, NBC, and couldn’t spill the beans since they had broadcast rights. I just find it fascinating that less than twenty years ago it took a team of people to get the news out and today we just need one person with a phone.
The encounter I mentioned in the title was when the torch for the Salt Lake games was traveling across the country. I was fortunate to be at one of the stops. A small Olympic village popped up in a parking lot in Martinsburg, West Virginia where the flame stayed for the night. After being relayed down its route for the day, the torch would light a portable cauldron. I was able to get nice and close. I was so close I could feel the heat pouring off of it which was good because it was really cold. I hope to go to the games one day and witness the event my ancestors created.