As a kid, what did the Olympics mean to you?
Heather: The Olympics connotes the feeling of hope. The games are a source of inspiration that any goal is possible. As a teen, I watched the 1996 Summer Olympics with my friends—a group of dancers, gymnasts and avid sports players. Even though we were past our prime—at the young age of 16—the Olympics showcased the elites, those that reached the pinnacle of their athleticism. We scheduled our summer nights around the schedule of the Olympic calendar.
Kristen: My memories are similar! Each Olympic games evokes great feelings of nostalgia—summers at the Jersey Shore with my family and gathering around the TV to watch the primetime broadcast each night. We’d all have our favorite athletes and events, my sister and I would do our best Dominique Moceanu moves in the living room, and we’d stay up late to watch every minute. Regardless of what event or athlete we were individually rooting for, as a family we were all rooting for USA to bring home some gold.
Favorite Olympic city/year?
Heather: Atlanta, 1996
Kristen: Agreed. Strug’s second vault was everything.
What athletic sport would you play?
Heather: Swimming, in my now older life. The beam terrifies me.
Kristen: Gymnastics—fly high and stick the landing!
How have you been following everything in Rio?
Kristen: I watch the primetime/live events when I can, but mostly I watch highlights and clips online. Why dedicate four hours to the TV each night when I can get caught up on Michael’s #phelpsface, his swim cap mishap, and 21st gold medal, over my first cup of coffee?
Heather: Today Show in the morning, NBC10 at night. Broadcast TV has been my main source of news and Olympic viewing. As the mom of a 5 year old “swimmer”, in front of the TV is where we discuss “our” dreams of her being the future Katie Ledecky and me the Mom in the P&G commercial. I then supplement my TV viewing with social media to learn even more about the the athletes and their families.
Do you think social media has tainted the way you watch the Olympics today?
Kristen: Kind of. While I love the way that social media enhances the excitement, I can’t help but miss the the way it used to be. For instance, I had plans with a friend to watch the Women’s Gymnastics Team All Around Finals which happened at 3pm, but weren’t airing until the evening. I spent the entire day avoiding social media and warning everyone I came across to not reveal the results. After feeling like I won the gold in avoiding spoilers, I watched the event eagerly until Midnight. I witnessed the #FinalFive singing our National Anthem and giving their gold medals the ceremonial bite; it was exciting, emotional and fun to watch. Had I known the results while watching on Tuesday night, I think sleep would have won and I would have caught the highlights online.
Heather: Absolutely Not. The exposure to all the stories—the personas of the athletes, the experiences of my Today Show newscasters—all add to my anticipation and excitement each night. While I know I can easily watch “replays” online, the act of watching “live” in primetime changes my excitement, my engagement. Social media validates the pure joy and patriotism and justifies the bleary eyes I have each morning.
In sum: is social media overwhelming or enhancing your Olympic experience?
Kristen: It’s a bit overwhelming. Every one of my newsfeeds is overcrowded with stories, controversies, memes and articles about cupping. Where do you even start? I love that technology gives me the choice to watch what I want, when I want it—but right now I’m feeling information overload.
Heather: Enhancing. Without social media how else would we see Ryan Lochte’s grandma, the #olympictorch or know that there’s a #Tinder uptick in the Olympic village...
Most memorable Rio 2016 social moment.
Heather: “He does his thing, I do mine.” #goat #focusonyourself le Clos
Kristen: Adam Peaty’s grandmother, #OlympicNan, is an absolute delight.
Heather Dougherty, Account Director & future Olympic Mom #P&G #thankyoumom
Kristen Conner, Account Director & #simonebilesfangirl