Monday Night Commercials

Fascinating article on Yahoo! Sports this morning. The gist of the story is that NFL Referees have the role of asking coaches to call timeouts to accommodate television network needs.

I’m not remotely surprised by this. If you’ve attended a number of professional sports games in person (and football is the worst) you’ll notice there is a lot of random downtime. When sitting at the Metrodome I’ve taken to watching a lot of the crew on the sidelines and the delicate choreographed dance they do to bring you the big game on your big screen TV.

At Vikings games my favorite guy on the field is a random person who wears bright orange gloves. Actually, gloves are the right word. Here in Minnesota we’d call them choppers. (Aside: surprisingly there is a page in wikipedia for choppers, but no detail yet. Essentially choppers are oversized mittens the go up the arm well beyond the wrist.) Anyway, this guy seems to be a director for some of the pauses on the field, and I think he wears those bright orange choppers so he can give hand signals that can be seen from a mile away (or in the upper deck nosebleeds where I sit).

Have you ever noticed when watching a game how the TV announcers will sometimes say, “And now we’ll go to Bob Jones, the PA announcer, to introduce Alicia Keys who will sing God Bless America”? And then on queue local PA guy does his intro. You can tell the networks are deeply involved in what goes on, but did any of us think it was to the extent.

It’s one thing to sit there waiting for the refs to give the ok to hike the ball after a commercial break, but it’s another thing to have the refs lobbying coaches to use unnecessary timeouts to create more ad revenue.

We’re way past the rabbit hole on this one…

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