Friday, October 26, 2012

Step up your games

Here we are at the midpoint (more or less, who's keeping track, anyway?) of the NFL season. As a public service, I'd like to offer the networks that broadcast NFL games (CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN. We will exclude the NFL Network because, let's face it, nobody gives a shit about the NFL Network.) some advice on how to improve their broadcasts. Following these five suggestions will make your broadcasts more enjoyable for your viewers, and make you better human beings in the process.

1. Don't show me the money. The reaction shot of the team owner in his luxury box, aka the "money shot," adds nothing to the broadcast. I don't know where network executives got the idea that what people really want to see when they tune in to an NFL game are billionaires celebrating. I'm not interested in watching lackeys clean the eyeglasses or peel the olives of their sugar daddies-in-law. I don't care to see old, wealthy men rubbing elbows with other old, wealthy men. And that's when they're high-fiving! If I want to see badly executed high-fives, I'll go watch a pickup basketball game in any U.S. suburb.

2. Shut up. The commentary audio of any NFL game could be married to the video of any other NFL game and sync up pretty well. Announcers all say pretty much the same things in response to the same plays. There is little that's uniquely insightful in the wall of words that accompanies every game. What passes for insightful analysis during these broadcasts is reminding viewers every time a challenge flag is thrown is that there has to be "indisputable evidence to overturn the call on the field." Or, when showing a replay of a hold, pointing out "that will get called every time," failing to add (for once) "And I will say that exact sentence every time." Part of the appeal of a baseball radio broadcast are the gaps in commentary so the listener can hear the crowd, get a feel for what it's like to be at the game and maybe think along with the hitter or manager. NFL announcers never stop talking. Sometimes they are so enamored with their own brilliance that they talk over a referee announcing a penalty. It's an assault on the ears and brain. It's impossible to think when someone is talking to you, and therefore impossible to think during the three hours of an NFL game broadcast. And maybe that's the point. But if the networks want to entertain their viewers instead of anesthetize them, Just. Shut. Up. NBC broadcast an announcerless game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets in 1980. It's an idea whose time has returned. Never really left, in my opinion.

3. Stop with the man-crushes. If I have to listen to another fawning, drooling soliloquy about Ray Lewis or see another shot of Lewis reacting to a play in which he wasn't even involved, I might throw my remote through my TV screen. I won't be surprised when the networks set up a camera at Ray Lewis' house so they can get a shot of him reacting to a game he's watching on TV. Or to a game of Madden on PlayStation. Or to a movie he's watching. Enough already.

And, while we're at it, never mention Brett Favre again, ever.

4. The halftime/pregame show. Listening to Terry, Howie, Coach, Key, Dan, Archie, Jughead, Bashful and Dopey is the dictionary definition of wasted time. The entire model jumped the shark when J.B. interviewed the E-Trade baby, which needs to be retired more desperately than did the former Packer/Jet/Viking quarterback who shall not be named. And the lapel pins. It's 2012. You guys just look like douchebags now.

5. Obscured establishing shots of host cities. This isn't major, but if you're going to show some local flavor as you come out of your homoerotic beer and truck commercials, don't completely block the shot with graphics. As a viewer, it's not fun to say, "Hey, there's Quincy Mar--" and then see the shot covered by the Ford logo. And Fox, please send that stupid-ass robot packing along with the E-Trade baby and you know who.

There they are. Five simple suggestions to make watching NFL games more appealing. And, because I'm a generous guy, here's one more, for no extra charge: Don't make a national audience watch the Browns, Titans, Jaguars (not "Jag-wires," dumbasses), Chiefs, Bills or Panthers. Normally I would add the Cowboys to that list but, for a lot of people, including me, watching them lose is very entertaining.

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