Fun fact about the Olympic medals: don’t send one away to the melt-it-down gold folks. The gold medal is actually 92.5 per cent silver, with a bit of copper mixed in for strength. It’s gilded with six grams of 24-karat gold, making it worth about $650.
The silver medal is the same without the gold gilding, so it’s worth $330, and the bronze is made of copper, zinc and tin. Actual metal value: $5.
But regardless of monetary value, the real value in the Olympics is participation and pride. And Twitter puts fans in the game.
If you're one of the hundreds of Westman computer users on Twitter, then chances are you've seen dozens if not hundreds of tweets about the Olympics. It’s no surprise. Twitter is turning out to be the big star of this year’s games.
The Brandon Sun is on Twitter. I’m on Twitter. Justin Bieber is on Twitter and most, if not all of our Canadian Olympic hopefuls are on Twitter. The access is unprecedented, the communication unlike anything we’ve seen before, and the results are somewhat surprising.
The first Tweet heard around the world, or across the country, was from Canadian pop star Justin Bieber. But he had to be "prodded" by gymnast Dominique Pegg. Right before she took to the mat, she tweeted:
"K @justinbieber I will be competing in the Olympics in a few hours now. I think it’s time that you say good luck! #London2012 #TeamCanada :)"
He wrote: "@domiP3gg sorry im late 2 the party. want to let you know as a proud canadian Im always supporting you and proud of you. STAND UP CANADA! :)"
Can you imagine your daughter getting a tweet like that?
I’m sure the gymnast twirled so fast on those gymnast bars, fans could actually cool themselves from the rapid rotation she was so excited.
But all tweets have not been innocent, encouraging or inspiring. A Swiss soccer player was actually kicked out of the games after tweeting an insulting message after tweeting racially offensive comments about Koreans after his team lost to South Korea in a match. A Greek triple jumper was also booted after making some offensive comments regarding African immigrants. And worst of all so far, after coming fourth in the men's synchronized 10m platform diving event on Monday, Tom Daley of the UK got a tweet saying he had "let down his father", Rob.
Rob Daley died in May 2011 from brain cancer.
And that last tweet ended in arrest. A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of malicious communications. Daley responded to the tweet by posting: "After giving it my all...you get idiot's sending me this..." I hope this 17 year old has parents. They too should be charged. The kid is a dirt-bag.
But for its good and its bad, Twitter gives a voice to the voiceless, and information at the click of a mouse. Everyone is a sports commentator and everyone has an opinion.
In 2008, there were fewer than 300,000 tweets per day about the games. At the Vancouver games in 2010, there were 50 million tweets a day. In 2012, those tweets per day have grown to 400 million.
Not only can everyone and anyone give an opinion, but they can instantly communicate with the athletes themselves, athletes can promote or discuss sponsorship (this is kind of a no-no) and viewers at home can get the attention of broadcasters who are bringing us the games on TV.
Guy Adams, an LA-based writer for Great Britain’s national newspaper The Independent, had his Twitter account suspended last week after tweeting out the email address of NBC’s Olympic Coverage President Gary Zenkel. Guy was pretty vocal about NBC’s use of tape delays, broadcasting Olympic events on prime time television in North America instead of in real time as the events occur in London. The last straw was sharing an NBC exec's email. Last Friday Guy tweeted, "The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think! Email: Gary.firstname.lastname@example.org."
Adams’ Tweets also contained numerous other choice words for Zenkel that I can't put in my column.
But does this guy have a point? (Its not like he published the guy’s home phone number or address)
NBC may be "dropping the ball" in its coverage by not carrying big events live. Since the invention of appointment tuning on television, there have been people spoiling the fun of "what happened". I'm guilty of it. In the very first days of reality TV, I remember playing clips of last night's show on the radio station, and having angry callers phone in to tell me "I taped the show and haven't seen it yet." Then came DVRs and tape is gone.
Now we can miss a show, sports event, even an election and simply watch Twitter to see what happened in real time.
The 2012 Olympics are forcing Olympics lovers to consider the unthinkable — staying off the Internet for much of the games to avoid someone spoiling it. But a person can’t help but wonder if this is the loss of a shared experience. Or maybe the way we share has changed. Some of social media's biggest moments are live events with unknown outcomes broadcast across time zones, like the Super Bowl or the Grammy Awards, or the federal election.
Could it be in Canada we tweet and watch at the same time? Because apparently we’re pretty happy with our TV experience. At least happier than Americans.
According to Ottawa-based media monitoring company Media Miser, a recent study of all tweets on the games on TV, 50 per cent of the tweets referencing CTV are positive. The rest are negative (28 per cent) or neutral (22 per cent). CTV and its affiliates (including local boy and former CKLQ and CKX-TV alum Darren Millard) are doing unprecedented coverage, with more than 5,000 hours available on televisions, phones, tablets and computers.
NBC-related tweets have been 83 per cent negative, 11 per cent neutral and 6 per cent positive. I never thought I would ever say this, but Canadian TV execs got one right.
And as for Twitter, let's hope things calm down. And if you don’t want to spoil your prime-time viewing but want to stay on Twitter, I have something for you. It’s called Twitter DogHouse. It’s a new service that lets users stop following other users for a specified amount of time. The app has seen its traffic rise as word got around that it was an option for muting Olympic spoilers.
GO CANADA GO!
"Excuse me," says the girl to the man. "Are you a pole vaulter?"
"No," says the man, "I’m German, but how did you know my name is Walter?"
At an Olympic Games opening ceremony, the president of the country who was giving a speech started this way:
"Oh," he says. "Oh... oh... oh..."
An aide nudges him, "Mr President, stop," he says. "You’re reading the Olympic symbol."
Why isn’t sun tanning an Olympic sport?
Because the best you can ever get is bronze.
Lavender Azure Woodman
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 4, 2012