Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How I'd Make The Super Bowl Better Though I Don't Like Football

I don't like football much. Nothing against people who do like it; I'm actually jealous of how much they enjoy it. I just never got into it much. As a result, I've almost never watched more than fifteen minutes of a football game, including the Super Bowl. (I usually TiVo it and fast forward to the commercials.)

So anyway, here's how football on TV, especially the Super Bowl, can be better.

First of all, obviously, the Super Bowl is wayyyy too long.

They should either play the first quarter before the televised portion begins, or they should play three downs instead of four. Maybe a shorter field: say, sixty-five yards.

And NO TIME OUTS. As a result, that means while we're watching commercials they should keep playing. I'm sure we can be filled in if anything interesting happens.

By now you're probably thinking that I'm an imbecile. Especially if you're a football fan. Of course I'm not serious. Why on Earth would you change an event to please people who don't like the event in the first place?

Yet that's what they do every year with the Academy Awards.

It is rejiggered and reshuffled and restructured and reordered and the rules are changed the categories are eliminated and/or moved to another night and nominees are announced from their seats or from the wings... and why?

So it will fit in 3 1/2 hours.

And why?

I don't know.

The Super Bowl doesn't. It takes all day to play the goddamn Super Bowl and nobody begins their articles about it with "Well it took all day to play the goddamn Super Bowl this year" because they know the Super Bowl takes as long as it takes.

But if the Oscars take fifteen minutes too long, pick up the papers the next day and every critic and columnist pounds the same tom-tom: "The interminable Oscar telecast..." "Went on forever..." "Can't they find a way to shorten it...?" (And if Jon Stewart does host the Oscars this year, they'll probably blame him, too.)

In their zeal to shorten award shows, to please the very people who don't like award shows to begin with, producers have eliminated the very thing that makes award shows fun: the chance for spontaneity. The chance that something really weird and funny or moving or newsworthy will happen.

Instead we get winners rushing to read lists of names at high speed before the music plays them off. And then mini-banter from the next set of presenters, because there's no time for real banter from the presenters. And then no time for clips because we're rushing to meet that phony three hour or 3 1/2 hour deadline some columnist made up.

And if they do anything -- a musical number, a comedy monologue -- it'd better be good, because otherwise the next morning a hundred print wags will say, "They ran ten minutes over for
that???"

And the drumbeat will begin for the next year, and the Oscar (or Emmy, or Grammy, or whatever) producer will be asked, for weeks before the telecast, one question:

"What steps are you taking to make sure you come in on time?

When you read an interview with the producer of the Oscars, and that question is asked -- and it always is -- have you ever once said to yourself, "Yeah, that's exactly the question I'd ask!"?

Well, you know what? Let the Oscars or Emmys come in on time when the Super Bowl does. The producer should say, "The show takes as long as it takes." And any network that isn't okay with that shouldn't broadcast the show. There'll be other takers.

Right now, the networks treat the Oscars like a drug mule. They barely look at its face as they make it swallow condoms full of Revlon ads and then hustle it quickly toward the 3 1/2 hour border before they explode.

The sooner networks start treating award shows like events -- like they do with the Super Bowl -- the more dignified and lucrative the award show business will become. Please the fans of the event, and stop trying to please those that hate it.

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