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The Top of the Standings

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Detour: Football "Made For TV"

Pitchers and catchers report in a week meaning the baseball season is officially upon us.

To some, baseball is an antiquated game whose games are too long, too boring and too plentiful to be considered tolerable. And while baseball attendance numbers continue to rise, a look around an average stadium shows that a good majority of the folk there are at the game to have a good time and not necessarily to keep manual score on the $1 scorecard with the $0.25 pencil.

How did it get this way? How did baseball fall from “The National Pastime” to a sport of lesser significance?

Well the answer is in the way we now follow sports.

When baseball was in its heyday, and was earning the reputation of being the National Pastime, radio was king. Every night families would gather around the radio to listen to their favorite shows or to take in a baseball game. And baseball was perfect for radio.

Its slower play, pitch-by-pitch account and simplistic nature, lent itself perfectly to a radio broadcast. And you had announcers out there who were so descriptive that you could almost smell the peanuts and popcorn wafting through your radio. Essentially this game was made for radio.

Because the placement of the players and batters never changed, one could close their eyes, listen to the announcer’s call and visualize themselves at the ball park.

Then TV was invented. And while baseball was still king at the beginning of the TV era, a new sports was starting to take hold of America’s attention, football.

Similar to how baseball was the perfect sport to be broadcast of the radio, football was prime for television.

The fact that it went East to West, the same as your television, and contained colossal hits, made it a must watch sports spectacle.

And while baseball announcers could depict with almost uncanny clarity the actions on a baseball diamond, football radio announcers had a more difficult time describing the action on the field. “Split right.” “Two tight end set.” “Man in motion.” These phrases just weren’t descriptive enough for a radio listening audience to visualize the action, but when accompanied by a moving picture on a TV screen, it all comes together to create the perfect storm.

So next time you have an opportunity to listen to a football game and baseball game on the radio, pay attention to which you feel more involved in. Which you feel you are a part of. The do the same with while watching it on TV. You will notice that the orientation of the football game, along with the hard hits and amazing catches lend itself better to being “Made For TV”

Keep sporting!
- Who’s In First

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