The Hardest Job in Football

Here’s a meaty read from this month’s issue of The Atlantic: an interesting piece about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the orchestral dance of directing cameras and choosing which view will appear in your TV screen during NFL football games.  It is by Mark Bowden, a great narrative and investigative writer, whose books Killing Pablo and Doctor Dealer I have read (I currently own and will soon dig into his Guests of the Ayatollah, about the Iranian hostage crisis).

The article gives a really interesting inside-look at things.  You get a feel for the mechanics of the cameras and what they can do, a larger survey of the evolution of the sport and its marriage to TV, and an appreciation for the role Fish plays as the conductor in the orchestra that produces the drama unfolding for you at home.

These are the basics, cameras one through five, that are used to cover every televised football game, college or pro. The rest are specialty cameras. Six and eight are mounted on three-foot-high platforms behind each end zone, to one side of the goalposts…Fish will sometimes instruct these cameras’ operators to focus on specific players—in this game they were Justin Tuck, the Giants’ gifted pass-rushing end, and Bengals receiver Chad Johnson—in order to put together a video package that summarizes those players’ ups and downs during the game.


silly random event:

I was reading the NYT book review for Bowden’s Guests of the Ayatollah and noticed a rather awesome word:

His heart-stopping, and heart-breaking, account of how Carter’s Desert One operation likewise came to grief is the prize buried near the bottom of this jumbo box of Cracker Jack — 680 pages in all, to be exact. (Bottom line: The reason was bad luck, not bad planning or presidential pusillanimity.)

Pusillanimity.  Is he saying it wasn’t true that Carter was a pussy about the whole thing?? That’s awesome!  I didn’t know there was a real word in English that could perhaps be the origin from which the schoolyard taunt, pussy,  derives.  It checks out: Merriam Webster (not to mention, I tend to look favorably upon a verdict that doesn’t heap blame and shame upon Carter…I think he gets way too much shit over this, but I’ll know more after I read the book)


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