The Unexamined Game Is Not Worth Watching

The stadium scene.
May 11 1997 3:30 AM

The Unexamined Game Is Not Worth Watching

Toward a philosophy of viewing sports on television.

(Continued from Page 1)

So that's the next tip:


2. Get more, and bigger, televisions.

If you have only a single 19-inch television and you can't afford to upgrade, just sit a lot closer. If you get close enough to the set, it's almost as good as going out and buying a multi-thousand-dollar "home theater."

Sabol said he has to take the occasional pit stop, but even that is conveniently arranged.

"The bathroom's right by the set. If I have to take a piss I can still see the screen."

3. Keep your eye on the screen at all times, even when you are trying to trim a child's toenails.

Sabol said he sits in a "Relax-a-back" chair, a kind of recliner, but cautions that this is not for the novice. The worst-case scenario for the sports viewer is the unplanned nap. "Those are dangerous. I only recommend those for the more experienced viewers. You need stamina to do this. You need a good night's sleep. You have to be careful about having too big a breakfast, because that will put you to sleep. The trick is to have a series of small snacks for a 10-hour period."

Illustration by Keith Seidel

4. Come to the television rested. Don't eat meals--graze.

(Sabol reckons that on a given Sunday he starts watching at 11 a.m. and doesn't stop until 11 p.m., at the end of the cable-TV broadcast. Before his divorce, his wife didn't quite understand that this was work, he says.)

Now comes the harder stuff, the actual watching--the seeing, if you will--of the actions on the screen. You must keep in mind that you are not directly watching an event, but rather are watching a produced and directed telecast of an event, manipulated by talented but not infallible professionals. To better understand how a sports program is put together, I called Rudy Martzke, the TV sports columnist for USA Today, who watches between 40 and 60 hours of TV sports a week on the 60-inch Pioneer screen in his family room.

Martzke is full of facts and well-educated opinions: The typical Monday Night Football broadcast uses about 13 cameras, compared with only about eight for Fox's primary game Sunday afternoon; Goodyear's Steadycam allows sharp-focus blimp shots even when the blimp is being blown all over the sky; the glowing puck used on Fox hockey games is officially called Fox Trax; Bob Costas at NBC is the best host in the business; and Al Michaels at ABC is the best play-by-play guy.



Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 4:33 PM Walmart Is Killing the Rest of Corporate America in Solar Power Adoption
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.