Sports games

I need Twitter spoilers to get through big live sports matches

On social networks, nothing is sacred and, sometimes, that’s fine.

One of the unique benefits of watching live sports is that you can celebrate (or bond) with millions of other fans at the same time. But what if you could handle these extreme emotions about 30 seconds before everyone else at your watch party?

It’s basically what I do every time I sit in front of the TV, shaking with anxiety about a football game. No, I don’t have supernatural powers of prognosis; if i did, i probably would a lot After sports betting. I’m just an all-digital guy with no cable so I have to rely on a variety of streaming services – and that means any live game I watch comes with a lag of around 15-30 seconds.

Naturally, since I follow a lot of sports fans (and have beat writers and even official team accounts) on Twitter, my timeline is a minefield of spoilers during any big game. Whether they’re watching on a relatively shorter time frame or being at the game in person, a bunch of these people are tweeting reactions to things I haven’t seen yet, and I can’t resist a glance. I will literally refresh my timeline multiple times before any big game just so I can know what’s going to happen next. I do this to protect my emotional well-being, of course.

Take the January playoff game between my beloved Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills (a thriller that would immediately be considered one of the best of all time when it was over), for example. In the first quarter, the Chiefs’ official account published this compelling and unbiased analysis.

(In sports terms, “QB1 HAS WHEEEEEEEEEELS” means the starting quarterback is good at running, not just throwing.)

At this point, the Chiefs were already down 7-0 against a team they got rolled by earlier in the season, and my nerves were all the on the edge. If they couldn’t score a touchdown here, then my superstitious mind was ready to declare the game over, even with three full quarters to go. (That’s what happens when you entrust your emotional well-being to a team that’s gone 50 years between Super Bowl appearances, like I did many years ago.)

Luckily I saw this tweet right before my team’s superstar quarterback ran into the end zone to even the game. Armed with the knowledge of what was to come on my TV, I was able to breathe deeply, relax, sit back, and enjoy the action like an emotionally healthy person would. It happens to me probably a dozen times in every Chiefs game.

An example of QB1 having “WHEEEEEEEEEELS.”
Credit: David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Writing this for you, dear readers, makes me realize how weird it is that I do this to myself every week during football season. Any football game I watch is now a two-screen experience, requiring both my TV and my iPhone in hand with Twitter open. In 2019, when KC won the Super Bowl, I was surrounded by friends at a big watch party and unfortunately spent a good part of that night refreshing my timeline.

The fact that they’re still friends with me means I hang out with the right people. But if they asked me to change this habit, we would have a problem.

Although I would not recommend anyone else to do so, I will defend my actions. Sport gives us the opportunity to care deeply about things that don’t matter, and that’s great because it’s a convenient distraction from all the horrors of everyday life. But caring a bit too much about something with such low stakes also carries the risk of serious disappointment, especially when you have no control over the outcome. Even if you personally choose not to take advantage of this digital precognition, you can surely see the value of knowing what is going to happen during the most unpredictable and uncontrollable times of your life. Think of it this way: if you can’t change the outcome, at least you can emotionally arm yourself for it.

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I can only hope that like big tech companies like Apple and Amazon combat to take control of live sports streaming, neither of them knows how to reduce the delay. If that happens, though, I’ll have to learn how to deal with real-time results, and I’m not sure my pessimistic, too-often-broken, Chiefs-fan heart can handle it.