Hello, I’m a film major, and I don’t like watching normal sports on TV because normal sports were not designed with TV in mind. This has been hard on me, my wife, my family, and my closest friends. “Liking sports” is one of the things that guys in America need to do in order to be a man. I can be swift as a coursing river with all of the force of a great typhoon and all the strength of a raging fire while being mysterious as the dark side of the moon, but because I don’t like to watch sports on TV, my “Man Card” is in question.
Sports on TV is an abomination that was never supposed to happen. Since its first appearance on television back in 1940, basketball has been using the same “pan the wide angle lens back and forth ever so slightly” move. Soccer is no different. Televised hockey is like watching an asylum riot; all the players smashing each other and swinging sticks at a puck that no one else can see from a distance that I can only assume is made possible by the Good-Year blimp. Golf has had some improvement, but nothing useful. Golf used to be a bird watching documentary. You’d see the guy swing, and then cut to an image of the sky. The clip of the sky is wandering around as the cameraman desperately tries to find the ball, and then in a last ditch effort he points the camera in the direction he thinks it is going to land and hopes that a little white pixel will land in the green. Now instead, when the golfer hits the ball, the cameraman snags that image right away. We get a nice close-up of that golf ball flying through the sky. However, we’re so up close and tight on that golfball that we have no idea where it is. Really we’re just looking at a static image of a golf ball while clouds and various tall plants whizz past in the background. We can’t tell if the ball is going up, down, vibrating, hovering, moving 50 yards or 1 million. NASCAR’s camera is so far above the ground that the cars look like they are going 30 mph instead of 200mph, and it’s using the same slight pan back and forth move as basketball. Football has done the best, with baseball as a close second. (We’ll ignore the Olympics for this post, because those aren’t normal sports.)
What’s that you say? They do the best they can? Okay person that I’m pretending is a lawyer, defending the popular notion that sports are fun to watch, I submit to you Exhibit A: Any movie you want to watch that involves sports. What do you get? Camera angles. Many more than the industry standard of some guy in the nose-bleed section lazily panning back and forth. You get fast-paced cuts between establishing shot, closer shot, reaction shots, the whole business. In a basketball movie they cut at least once every 5 seconds. In a basketball broadcast they cut after every quarter (720 seconds). Maybe they’ll cut if there is a foul, but that’s not guaranteed.
Still not convinced, audience of my blog post that I’m aggressively insisting is not agreeing with me? Fine. I submit to you Exhibit B: the soundtrack. What’s more invigorating than a bunch of old dudes in the booth talking alternatively about what we can see in front of our faces or the same stuff they’ve talked about for years and years? What soundtrack do you find in a movie? Music (usually rock), quotes from the players, speeches from the coaches, grunts of athletic effort, and the crowd’s reaction unmuted. Watch any basketball game on TV and you hear sneakers squeak, an organ playing the same jingles as it did in 1940, the muted and muffled crowd through a sound booth, and two old dudes talking about nothing interesting. Maybe a whistle if things got too exciting and things need to calm down.
Normal sports were not meant to be watched on TV. Normal sports were meant to be played. I love sports. I’d love to go out and play baseball with a bunch of other folks that also think that a 3 hour chunk of time is meant to play baseball. Seems that view is wildly unpopular. Folks would rather watch someone else play it. I don’t get it. When I see a plentitude of dudes at a sports bar watching a ball game around lunch, I wonder why they don’t all just wander outside to the nearest park and play ball.
Carrying this relatively new theory to its extreme, I’ve discovered that I’m just too manly for America. Rather than watch, I’d rather do. It’s really the hero mentality. Really. You can either watch Batman fight crime on the Gothan News or you can don your own costume and be the manly crime-fighting hero that everyone else looks up to. (We’re talking about the old Adam West version of Batman, where everyone liked him and no one thought he was a lunatic. Otherwise my metaphor falls apart rather quickly.)
There is a “sporting event” that I do watch. The International tournament to discover who the best in the world is actually starting today, the prize pool is around $10 million, and it’s a game that I have devoted a lot of time and energy into mastering. The game is called “DOTA 2”.
With a quick Google search you’ll find that DOTA 2 is actually a computer game, and that’s hardly a sport. Hey, I didn’t name it, audience member that I’m still thinking is judging me for my interest in watching competitive video gaming. Competitive video games got the name “E-Sport” because the first large tournaments with cash prizes revolved around the Madden football video games. Madden is something I have no interest in. Watching a Madden tournament is basically me watching someone else who is really good at watching Madden and pushing a few buttons while he does it. Blame John Madden
So in a way, I do like to watch sports. Actually, scratch that. It’s already been established that I don’t like watching sports, but saying “I do like watching DOTA 2” isn’t a source or redemption; it is a source of shame. It’s an excuse that makes things worse. Folks think that watching sports is cool, trendy, and manly. Watching/playing/knowing video games exist is nerdy/time wasted/dumb/stupid. Saying “I do like to watch sports! I like to watch E-Sports!” is kind of like saying “I do have a healthy diet. This stick of butter I’m eating is gluten free.” It’s like confessing to an extremely conservative and judgmental father figure that I, his only son figure, am not scrapbooking all of those pictures of high heels because I secretly want to wear them as a transgendered man, but because I have a crippling foot fetish.
Anyway….what was I saying? I swear there was a point to all this. Maybe I’ll get the hang of writing something with a point later on in my blog writing career. Maybe Dave Berry has too much influence on me right now.
Watch the DOTA 2 International tournament! It’ll be loads of fun, and I desperately need to find someone I can talk to about it.