I need spoilers on Twitter to go through great live sports games

Nothing is sacred on social media, and sometimes that’s good.

One of the unique benefits of watching live sports is that you can celebrate (or sympathize) with millions of other fans at once. But what if you could process those extreme emotions about 30 seconds before everyone else at your party?

This is essentially what I do whenever I sit in front of the TV and tremble with anxiety about a football match. No, I do not have supernatural predictive abilities; if I did, I probably would a lot More ▼ sports betting. I’m just an all-digital person with no cable subscription, so I have to rely on different ones streaming services – and that means that every live game I watch comes with a delay of about 15 to 30 seconds.

Naturally, since I follow a lot of sports fans (and authors of victories and even official team accounts) on Twitter, my timeline is a minefield of spoilers during every big game. Whether they’re watching relatively late or in the match in person, a bunch of these people are tweeting reactions to things I haven’t seen before, and I’m just can’t stand it peek. I will literally update my timeline many times before each important game, just to know what will happen next. I do this to protect my emotional well-being, of course.

Take the January playoff game between my favorite Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills (a thriller that will immediately be considered a one of the best ever when finished), for example. In the first quarter, the official Chiefs account published this convincing unbiased analysis.

(In terms of sports, “QB1 HAS WHEEEEEEEEELS” means that a starting quarterback is good at running, not just throwing.)

At this point, the Chiefs had already lost 7-0 to a team they had faced earlier in the season, and my nerves were all the way on the edge. If they couldn’t mark a touchdown here, then my superstitious mind was ready to declare the game over, even with three full quarters to go. (This happens when you pass on your emotional well-being to a team that once passed 50 years between Super Bowl appearances, as I did many years ago.)

Fortunately, I saw this tweet just before my team’s superstar quarterback runs out in the end zone for a tie game. Armed with the knowledge of what was to be played on my television, I was able to take a deep breath, relax, sit down, and enjoy the action as much as an emotionally healthy person could. This probably happens to me about a dozen times during every Chiefs game.

Example for QB1 with “WHEEEEEEEEEELS”.
Credit: David E. Cluto / Sports Illustrated by Getty Images

Writing this for you, dear readers, makes me realize how strange it is to do this on a weekly basis during the football season. Every football game I watch is already a two-screen experience, requiring both my TV and my iPhone in hand with open Twitter. In 2019, when KC won the Super Bowl, I was surrounded by friends at a big viewing party and unfortunately spent much of that night refreshing my timeline.

The fact that they are all still friends with me means that I am communicating with the right people. But if they ask me to change this habit, we will have a problem.

Although I would not recommend anyone else to do this, I will defend my actions. Sport allows us to take deep care of things that don’t matter, and that’s great because it’s a convenient distraction from all the horrors of everyday life. But worrying too much about something with such low stakes also runs the risk of serious disappointment, especially when you have no control over the outcome. Even if you personally decide not to take advantage of this digital notice, you can certainly see the value in knowing what is going to happen during the most unpredictable, uncontrollable moments in your life. Think of it this way: if you can’t change the outcome, at least you can get emotionally attached to it.

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Apple and Amazon are changing the way we watch live sports

I can only hope for this as big technology companies like Apple and Amazon fight back to take control of live sports streaming, neither knows how to reduce the delay. If that happens, I’ll have to learn how to deal with the results in real time, and I’m not sure my pessimistic, all-too-broken heart of Chiefs fans can handle it.

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