For a Texas resident, I don't watch a hell of a lot of football. I went to UT, so I'll try to tune in for a significant Big 12 game as opposed to the annual Little Big Horns versus Louisiana-Monroe or Rice.
Being a Texans fan makes Sunday especially excruciating, and anyway I -- like many people -- usually have the convenient excuse of family obligations to prevent me from watching all that many pro games. I still follow the division races and always have an eye open for a fantasy sleeper (I'm 2-3 this season, thanks a lot Steven Jackson), but more often than not I see most of the action on Sunday night's news.
One of the main reasons I find it easy to avoid sitting down to watch televised games on Sunday is because they've just become too much of an ordeal. For a fun experiment, record a random NFL game some time and then, as you're replaying it, make a note of how much of the 60 allotted minutes of game time actually involve plays being run. It's bad enough that commercials and time-outs already bloat the proceedings to three-and-a-half hours, but for maybe 15 minutes of actual action? I may not be working on a cure for cancer, but even my time's worth more than that.
So I can feel comfortable saying that the NFL RedZone channel is the greatest thing to hit television since Cheaters.
The concept is simple: instead of being locked into whatever games are being broadcast locally on Sunday, RedZone takes you to whatever teams are about to score (in the "red zone," get it?) or wherever there's already been a score, turnover, or big play.
There's no going to the sideline to see Pam Oliver annoy Bill Belichick, no sitting on your thumbs while the officials review a call, and -- best of all -- no goddamn commercials.
America really has become a nation of old ladies, as any casual perusal of Sunday-afternoon advertising will confirm. Fondly do I recall the days of "Tastes great, less filling" and Mean Joe Green giving a terrified young boy his sweaty jersey. Now I get an endless parade of ads featuring one bunch of Matlock extras trying to control their bladders and another working out the logistics of maneuvering their Viagra-enhanced boners into an outdoor bathtub. The Super Bowl has ended up as the annual showcase of commercials because none of the companies involved can get a word in edgewise during the regular season.
So enamored have I become with the RedZone concept I started wondering how well it'd work with the other major sports. Sadly, football's structure is the only one that really fits.
But I'll give the others a shot, anyway:
Baseball -- This would seem to be the sport most benefiting from the highlight treatment, as it's arguably the most boring of the lot. Problem is, the sheer number of games, in addition to the length of the season itself, makes the concept unsustainable in a country with the collective attention span of a ferret on crank.
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Basketball -- The problem with b-ball is it's actually pretty exciting on a consistent basis, and the shot clock guarantees that something's going to happen every 24 seconds. ESPN ends up showing every game highlight on SportsCenter anyway, so why bother, really?
Hockey -- See above, narrow it down to just showing the fights and you might be on to something.
Soccer -- Unworkable because of the presumption that you'd have enough highlights to fill several hours of programming. In a sport that routinely ends in scores of 1-0 or 0-0, you'd be better off filming muggings in the stands.
Football is it, I guess. Now if you'll excuse me, there's a Cheaters marathon on.