Here's a helpful reminder for those people who are still fuming on the internet today: we live in what is often referred to as the Information Age. As far as age names go, it doesn't sound anywhere near as cool as the Bronze Age, but it is almost certainly more fun to live in. Not only do we have iPods and antibiotics, but also vastly superior cutlery.
But there are, we must admit, some drawbacks to this brave new world of ours. For one, the practice of plundering and pillaging is frowned upon. For another, we live in almost constant fear of the spoiler, which is a uniquely modern invention.
Take UFC 120
, for instance. The event went down on Saturday night in London, which was Saturday afternoon in most of the U.S. While the Brits and the Canadians got to see it on live TV, we Yanks had to wait for the tape-delayed broadcast on Spike TV, presumably because Spike just couldn't dare to preempt its five-hour block of "UFC Unleashed" episodes.
That means most smart fans who didn't want the results spoiled for them ahead of time had the sense to stay off the internet and ignore any text messages that came from a Montreal area code. But in the end even those precautions weren't enough.
That's because ESPN, in some crazy attempt to provide current sports news information, revealed the results in its ticker during some college football games on Saturday afternoon. Judging by the way some fans on the internet reacted to this, you'd think ESPN had revealed to them the exact date and manner of their own deaths. You sure wouldn't think that ESPN, a company whose business model is based in part on bringing people the most current sports news as is humanly possible, had done something as innocuous as reporting results in real time.
No, this was the dreaded spoiler for many MMA fans. It was the unforgivable sin. They lit up Twitter
with angry rants that featured almost as many expletives as exclamation points. They bitterly defended their own perceived right to remain ignorant, and lashed out at anyone who had violated it.
On some level, I can understand the rage of the spoilees. The fact that we don't know how it ends accounts for roughly 90% of our enjoyment when we're watching a sporting event, which is why I still can't figure out who could possibly be watching all those replays of the 1993 Orange Bowl on ESPN Classic (spoiler alert: Florida State wins).
But at the same time, let's be realistic. When you know an MMA event is on tape delay, and when you know that the rest of the MMA world is going to find out the results before you do, avoiding spoilers is your own responsibility. The sports media is not obligated to ensure that you remain in the dark until your cable provider has seen fit to enlighten you. Its job is to report the news, not act like the well-meaning parent who knows you're not ready to hear the truth about Santa Claus.
I suppose you could make the argument that, since ESPN hasn't historically done a great deal of MMA coverage, it was a surprise for them to reveal UFC results during a college football game. That makes some degree of sense, even if it's a hypocritical argument when made by the same people who have complained about that lack of coverage in the past.
But with the great power of the Information Age comes great responsibility. If you really want to avoid spoilers, you already know what you have to do. You have to unplug and tune out. Go for a walk. Pick up a book. Lock your bedroom door and rediscover your collection of Pink Floyd records if you have to. Do anything but connect yourself to a device that brings you a stream of information that you can't completely control.
Because when you know that all it will take is a headline or a couple of words on a ticker at the bottom of the screen to ruin your day, it's up to you to stay far away from the places where you might accidentally bump into either.
Or don't. Watch all the TV and read all the websites you want, but then don't blame the people you rely on for sports news if they happen to tell you something you weren't ready for yet. Keeping you ignorant isn't their job; it's yours.
Such are the perils of living in the Information Age. Just like we have the power to settle arguments about when "Robocop" was released simply by whipping out our Blackberries during dinner, we also have to live with the fact that sometimes information will be harder to avoid than attain.
That's life in the modern world. If you don't like it, trade your TV for some snowshoes and a rifle and move to a cabin in the woods. The rest of us will still be here, reading about the Persian Empire on our phones while we wait in line at the post office, and Twittering about what happened on the new episode of "Mad Men" just to piss off our friends on the West Coast. It's truly a wonderful time to be alive.