Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bob Lobel: A Patriot Revival & the Technology that Shapes Our Game Day Experience

By Bob Lobel (@boblobel)


We're good again! 

That rebuilding didn’t take nearly as long as most thought, plus the backup quarterback hasn’t been wasted. He's still the backup quarterback! So what if the Bengals and the Bills aren't great teams, and pretty much never have been. So what if the Patriots are gifted to play in the AFC east, home of the worst of the worst. 

Wait till you see what's coming to town Thursday night! 

There is no reason to embarrass the Jets on a national scale, but we didn’t make the schedule. Just tell them when and where. It would help if the television audience could be more aware of where they could watch a game.  To see the AFC and the Patriots on Fox because of ratings greed only proves what we already know.

They are all, and I mean all, in bed together. More reason to buy the NFL package of all games all the time. Or spend your lunch money on the Red Zone. Certainly as clever a programing idea as any that have come down the pike. 

The NFL doesn’t care who you watch, just watch. It brings to mind the question of what have been the greatest, or not so great, inventions or gimmicks or technology that have enhanced the coverage of live sports.  

I do have a few in mind. 

The Tour de France always has a strange fascination for the viewer, since it presents a unique picture of competitors (even if they are cheating) against a backdrop of spectacular French countryside and quaint towns. There is always the chance of disaster and a crash which, certainly enhances the reason to watch, even if we don’t have a clue about the stages and yellow jerseys. 


In tennis, the video on the line calls has been part of the replay world that has made its way through all sports. Baseball is working on their's in an effort to get it right, and soon will tackle the speed of the game. 

The real technological advancement is the strike zone graphics presented this year by FOX and TBS. I think they are the best ever and, to be perfectly  honest, put NESN's Amica Pitch Zone to shame. If there is a graphics package like the one on FOX that’s available and NESN doesn’t get it, well, I will simply say NESN doesn’t get it. It's amazing and will be until we get used to it and the next big thing comes along. 

There is no doubt football, the one sport that is connected at the hip with television, presents the finest advances in the technology of covering a game. They are so good we just take them all for granted. 

From the camera on the goal post for field goals, to the camera on wires strung across the field that can pretty much act like a drone with great shots that we don't even consider amazing any more. Then there are the goal line shots, because it's a game that depends so much on replay. 

However, before I reveal what I think is the greatest enhancement to how we watch a game, let me throw in the golf twosome of the super slow motion swing analyzer and the shot detector that has the flight path of the ball, almost as its flying. I'm sure you have others that are obvious that I missed, like the camera that travels around a track during ice skating, swimming, and track competitions. If you don’t have one, don’t bother  showing up. 

Let me know what I missed.

Here, however, is my all time best game enhancement piece of technology, besides high definition. See, I almost tool HD for granted (interesting how 3D never got traction)… 

Ok, the Lobel pick for the best is also so simple you think it was always there. It’s the first down YELLOW LINE. It goes unnoticed because that simple piece of technology has become an integral part of the game and how we watch it. It's much more of a big deal that we realize.  

Twitter doesn’t count and neither does all the stuff that goes with it. That comes under the heading of covering a game. Oh yeah, and don't worry about the Bruins, they'll be just fine once the regular season starts.

Gotta go now, there are two things on at once and I have to turn on the DVR. 

I'm sure every one of these innovations has a name. Yellow line can't be the name of the yellow line. DVR (stands for?) here I come. 

Ed. Note- DRV stands for Digital Video Recorder. I'll tell Bob the next time I speak with him.

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