Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The TV Shows That Make Football


New York Times Magazine - "Behind the Scenes of the Most Spectacular Show on TV"
By Jody Rosen

"For two decades, we have talked about a new golden age of television, heaping acclaim on “prestige” streaming and premium-cable series. But our praise songs to televisual art have largely ignored the most popular — and the most richly televisual — TV of all. Prestige dramas and comedies are, in essence, serialized movies, but a football telecast belongs to a different category. It is an extravagant exercise in visual storytelling: an hourslong motion-picture collage, assembled on the fly, pumped up with interstitial music, graffitied with graphics, embellished with hokey human-interest segments and narrated, with varying degrees of wit and magniloquence, by the featured soloists in the broadcast booth. As a technical feat, it’s a mindblower: a collective improvisation by a team of hundreds, pulled off with top craftsmanship under conditions of extreme pressure. “Sunday Night Football” is television’s biggest show, but it might also be the best — the flashiest, most exciting, most inventive, most artful use to which the medium has ever been put."


"But “S.N.F.” isn’t just a testament to excess. From the beginning, it has struck an improbable balance between carnival and seminar, seeking new ways to make a byzantine game more comprehensible. Today that task falls chiefly to Collinsworth, the 64-year-old former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver who took over analyst duties in 2009. Since then, he has solidified his place as football’s most sagacious color commentator, rendering judgments in a gravelly bass-baritone that has inspired a cottage industry of impersonators. Meme culture has seized on other tics, like the Collinsworthism “Now here’s a guy. …” But unlike the folkloric Madden or the hopped-up CBS analyst Tony Romo, who flaunts his smarts by predicting plays before the ball is snapped, Collinsworth isn’t first and foremost a personality. He has the cool, questing demeanor of a detective — a guy, as Collinsworth himself might put it, who regards football as a grand puzzle that rewards endless inquiry."

The Ringer - "“Not So Fast”: The Oral History of ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’"
By Bryan Curtis

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