The Television Angle the National Football League Doesn’t Want You to See

Readers from non-American-football locales may wish to skip this post, but I would recommend you stick with it.  I’m curious to know whether or not there is a comparable issue in proper football, or if it would matter at all.  Does this issue come into play in other non-football sports?

Part of the reason I’ve never been terribly interested in watching American football for more than 10 minutes at a stretch is that I just don’t get it.  That is, beyond the broad strokes of plays, I have trouble grasping the subtleties of the game.  I don’t easily grasp things like various formations, the performance of the lines on both sides of the ball, or how pass routes should run versus how they are run.

Seeing the game from the sidelines, at least for me, doesn’t really help.  A few years ago some broadcasts would include shots from a position above the field, but they are still few and far between.  I don’t know if I’d get the game that much easier if I could watch from above the field, but there’s no opportunity to try.

And the NFL apparently prefers it that way.  According to this article in The Wall Street Journal (H/T Slashdot), the ‘all-22 angle’ footage – where one shot from above shows the whole field of play – is kept under wraps by the National Football League, and access is seriously limited to outside parties.  The rationale?  The league considers it proprietary coaching information.  While I can see the point, I find it a little strange to see a sports league limiting a means of increased fan attention and obsession.  One former team official is quoted as concerned about additional fan scrutiny as criticism the league doesn’t need.  That doesn’t mesh well with my current exposure to sports talk radio.

Presumably the college ranks take a similar approach to limiting coverage of the game, assuming they have the capacity to film game action from an ‘all-22 angle’.

The takeaway?  How you get to see the game matters.