Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Side Story: Media & Television Broadcasting

Robert Ellis
(Note: I know that over the past two weeks we have been able to see the NFL for what it really is. A greed machine, so protective of its brand, so focused on doing whatever it takes to "get the money" that acting like a human being and doing the right thing doesn't mean much anymore. This post has nothing to do with the NFL. We'll save that for another day. Instead, this post is about something incredible that happened last Sunday during a game.)

I spend most of my time in the New York media market these days. This past Sunday I was watching a football game between the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals. The Giants aren't very good this year. The game was long and boring and one of the worst games I've ever seen in my life. When the ordeal was finally over, FOX cut to what was left of the game between the Cleveland Browns and the New Orleans Saints.

I was about to reach for the clicker when something remarkable happened.

Cleveland Browns First Energy Stadium
There was a glitch in the transfer to the Cleveland game. The picture came over, and so did the audio from the mikes on the field and in the stands. But the audio feed from the booth never made it. The announcers were gone!

The game was a shocker, the score, 24-23 in favor of New Orleans. Cleveland made a terrific play, and the ball was spotted within field goal range with 13 seconds to go. The reason I'm writing about this is that the story was being told with just pictures and the sound of the crowd. The drama was all amped up, I think, because we weren't being told what we were seeing. Instead, we were taking it in first hand as if we were actually in the stands. The truth is, it was better than being in the stands. We had close-up shots from every angle, and the director kept cutting from shot to shot.

Cleveland kicked the field goal and won. The stadium rocked. Sixty thousand people were going crazy.

When the camera cut to Cleveland's bench -- the players and coaches -- the looks on their faces, the disbelief, the shock and awe, the pure joy -- I'd never seen anything like it. The moment lasted for more than five minutes and still no one noticed that the announcers hadn't been wired in. It was the best five minutes in sports broadcasting that I've ever seen.

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