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|| News Item: Posted 1999-08-30

Leading Off: One Year Anniversary Look at NFL Sidelines
By Robert Hanashiro

It's appropriate that I am putting this one-year anniversary issue together in a Las Vegas hotel room. Those of you who have followed Sports Shooter from the beginning know it originated out of my musings and rambling emails from "strange hotel rooms in strange cities."

Photo by Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro
One year ago, Sports Shooter addressed the issue of the new NFL sideline policy that instituted a "network zone" in front of photographers. While we addressed the issue of the inconsistencies of its enforcement and informed our readers, the new policy has stayed in effect.

However, a look into the crystal ball, might reveal even bigger plans for the sidelines by the NFL and the networks that broadcast the games.

A few years ago I sat in on an interview USA TODAY had with David Hill, the head of sports and entertainment programming for Fox. Hill is an interesting, articulate and savvy businessman and Rupert Murdoch would not be where he is today without him.

But some of the ideas he has, in relation to our jobs, are frightening. Hill predicted that one day football teams would be lined up on the same side of the field (ala soccer) so that the opposite side of the field would be clear for a TV camera that would move along the sidelines on a track following the play on the field.

He also suggested that signage, also like soccer, could be placed along that "empty" sideline and endzones.

Not likely to happen?

Guess again Ringo!

If you watched the recent Australia Bowl, you would have seen exactly that: benches on one side of the field and signage along the sidelines. The only thing missing was the camera on a track.

Peter Miller has written us a report on this summer's World Bowl and he indicates a lot of these "innovations" were present there too.

Hill mentioned that they have a technician in charge of finding unusual places to put cameras to spice up their coverage of sports. It's a shame that the viewing public needs gimmicks to keep them interested and watching sports on television. And it's a shame that the networks don't think the sports themselves can keep the public's interest.

The formula goes something like this: viewership + ratings x advertising = profits.

* * *

Our first anniversary issue is a special one and we owe this to contributions from the World Wrestling Federation's Tom Buchanan who wrote and entertaining piece on his work and an informative piece on equipment maintenance by Charley Provance who operates Horizon Electronics. We also have reports on the recent Pan American Games in Canada; the Tournament of the Americas held in Puerto Rico and the above-mentioned article on the World Bowl held in Germany from Peter Miller.

So sit back, adjust the contrast on that monitor, turn down the Elvis and enjoy this special issue.

Robert Hanashiro
Sports Shooter

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