Spoiler Alert

35 years ago, WJLA pissed off a number of viewers when the station announced that the USA had beat Russia in Olympic Hockey back in 1980.

It was one of the seminal moments in American sports history – the Miracle on Ice.  Believe it or not, the game was not broadcast live, but on tape delay in primetime.  The USA-USSR game was played at 5 PM ET in Lake Placid but not aired on ABC until 8 PM ET. 

With the game being tape delayed, the result had to be kept secret from viewers.  That was much easier back in 1980 without cell phones or computers or Twitter.  But it didn’t stop WJLA in DC from committing a massive mistake and spoiling the legendary outcome for viewers.

The score was tied 3-3 with about 10 minutes left to play when ABC took a station break. WJLA Renee Poussaint, apparently unaware of ABC’s attempts to keep the secret, announced that the U.S. had scored a major upset over the Russians by winning the hockey game 4-3.

WJLA’s switchboard lit up with calls from over 200 irate viewers who had avoided news and sports reports all evening so they could experience the drama of the game on TV. The ABC bureau in Washington also logged over 200 calls.

Imagine the social media backlash that WJLA would have gotten Today if that happened?

Then again.... with social media, most people would have known the US won the game hours before it ever hit the air. 


H/T Awful Announcing