Michael Pavitt

"If you don’t want to know the scores, please look away now."

The phrase has been uttered on the BBC 10 o’clock news for decades now as their sports presenter prepares to read out the results on the day’s football results.

With the programme coming immediately before the football highlights show Match of the Day, the phrase is designed as a warning for those people who have gone a full day trying to ignore the scores, so they can watch the highlights with the suspense of not knowing what is going to happen.

People I know have gone - or at least attempted to go - the full day without knowing the scores.

It is becoming an increasingly ridiculous concept, given that with television, radio and social media making it nearly impossible to go a full day without seeing at least some of the results.

The day after this year’s SuperBowl, the presenter of a radio station in the United Kingdom railed against a listener who had text into the show to complain that he had given away the winner of the match. I believe the presenter may have been called the listener a fool.

A tad harsh maybe, but you cannot expect to avoid results of sporting events for too long.

To be honest, I was taken aback by a tweet from NBC Olympics saying it was time for the "Opening Ceremony" of the Games, about six hours after I had finished watching it.

I am not sure how a tape delay works in this day and age, as everything is just so instantaneous now.

North Korean cheerleaders charmed, then concerned people on social media ©Getty Images
North Korean cheerleaders charmed, then concerned people on social media ©Getty Images

There is part of me that wishes that it wasn’t the case. Particularly during Pyeongchang 2018.

Having been broken by the first week of attempting to stay up late to watch action, I almost wish there was a similar phrase to protect me from the results now I actually have to have proper sleep, so that I could watch the chaos and carnage in each of the Winter Olympic events with sheer surprise.


It is largely due to social media. Within five minutes of browsing Twitter, I have a pretty strong idea of the main events of the day.

Clips of the action are readily available and almost all media organisations seem to have gone down the path of using GIFs of athletes, highlighting their progress and engaging with the youth of today.

There’s instant reaction to a multitude of things at the Olympics, whether it is competition itself, to the trousers worn by the Norwegian curling team and Swiss slopestyle skier riding up an escalator by holding on the handrail with one arm.

One of the most fascinating reactions so far has been to the North Korean cheerleaders at the Games, who appear to have somehow got tickets in a single block for most events. Having seen them first hand at the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games, I was not surprised to see that they have prompted a reaction.

The first reaction appeared to be fascination, with the cheerleaders treated as some kind of quirk and one that should be viewed in some way as being adorable.

It left a few people wondering whether there is any difference between the North Korean version of cheerleading than a crowd supporting a well-known European football team.

Reaction then seemed to morph into whether people would find the choreographed chants and actions as heart-warming should they have appeared on a North Korean propaganda video.

It has been one of those discussions that have been highlighted by the Olympics, with several other social and political issues highlighted on social media.

There has been the very public spat between figure skater Adam Rippon and US vice-president Mike Pence, over the politicians alleged views of the LGBT community.

Rippon and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, another openly gay member of the American team, posed together at the Opening Ceremony with the latter stating: "We're here. We're queer. Get used to it."

A similar message was posted by Canada’s Eric Radford, who became the first openly gay athlete to win a Winter Olympic gold, when he posed alongside Rippon after the team figure skating medal ceremony.

In some ways, the platform and spotlight of the Olympic Games offers an opportunity for social issues to be raised.

Unfortunately, the negative side of social media has also been in evidence during the Games.

American skier Lindsey Vonn has responded to social media trolls having missed out on claiming a medal in the women’s super-G event.

Canada's Kim Boutin was subjected to online threats after winning a medal at the expense of a disqualified South Korean in the short track speed skating at Pyeongchang 2018 ©Getty Images
Canada's Kim Boutin was subjected to online threats after winning a medal at the expense of a disqualified South Korean in the short track speed skating at Pyeongchang 2018 ©Getty Images

There was worse, when it emerged online attacks and death threats were reported to have been issued against Canadian short-track speed skater Kim Boutin after she benefited from a South Korean disqualification to win an Olympic bronze medal here.

Boutin initially finished fourth in the 500 metres final behind Italian winner Arianna Fontana and home favourite Choi Min-jeong and The Netherlands' Yara van Kerkhof. Choi was then disqualified for interfering with the Canadian, meaning van Kerkhof and Boutin moved up to second and third respectively.

This prompted a furious response from thousands of South Korean fans on social media, leading to Boutin making her Twitter and Instagram accounts private.

It was reminiscent of similar threats made to British short-track skater Elise Christie, following a collision with South Korea's Park Seung-hi at Sochi 2014.

Christie has been one of the most active British athletes on social media to date, despite the continued misfortune that the short track speed skater has endured at the Games so far.

I do hope for her sake she’s not been following the British hysteria too much…