Information flow has no limit

By Bill Contz

For the Mirror

Once considered a safe haven for shielding players from hecklers or nuisance autograph seekers, the Major League Baseball dugout is no longer completely off limits to anyone not wearing stirrups and spikes.

This sanctity of this semi-secluded enclave once reserved for umpire baiting, secretive hand gestures or the discreet application of banned substances, has forever been compromised by the television broadcasting’s latest innovation — the live in-game interview.

With the goal of getting the viewer as close to the action as possible while gaining the meaningful insight of a true insider, the talking heads in the baseball booth now regularly pepper the manager or previous day’s pitcher during the early innings on a variety of topics, few of which pertain to the actual play on the field, a tactic oddly similar to how a Vietnam war correspondent would provide real feel reporting from places like the Mekong Delta.

Far more conversational than the sideline reporter pulling aside the head football coach for a 30-second barrage of hard-to-hear questions at halftime, these more relaxed, casual exchanges could be viable options for other private areas of sporting venues considered inaccessible to fans.

Let’s examine a few:

n The general consensus is the NHL regular season is one long, agonizing, 82-game grind, and that the outcome of most games played in November or December having little to do with making the playoffs.

Early-season broadcasts of these affairs could certainly be spiced up by employing methods to literally penetrate the plexiglass, which insulates the professional skater from the general public.

Long deprived of what is likely colorful and spirited multi-lingual dialogue, hockey fans may enjoy the banter with, say, a reserve fourth liner or backup goalie midway through the first or second period.

Taken a step further, I would advocate either a live mic or headphones in every NHL penalty box. This would enable the offender the chance to explain their side of their recent infraction much the same way a defendant states their case (often in vain) to Judge Judy.

n The injury tent on an NFL sideline is another intimate, secluded setting where onlookers likely have a vested interest in these goings on, especially those with wagers riding on a particular player’s ability to return to the field.

Camera angles would, of course, be limited to upper torso shots in case the team physician is checking for possible groin injuries or administering pain-killing injections.

n While not necessarily private, the players languishing at the end of an NBA bench with little hope of anything other than garbage minutes at the end of blowouts might also provide a somewhat interesting perspective from their vantage point.

n Any NASCAR race ending in a number over 300 would have worked up until recently when most states started prohibiting the use of mobile devices while the vehicle is in motion. Some aspects of the private sector might also consider adopting this.

While use in church, confessionals or patient rooms in doctor offices would be largely immoral or unethical, a headset strategically deployed during sequestered jury deliberations would no doubt add to the existing courtroom drama as selected jurors could provide live updates regarding the impending guilt or innocence of the accused.

The time to expand upon baseball’s in-game interview has come as fans have a right to know … everything.

Contz was a starting offensive tackle on Penn State’s first national championship football team in 1982 and went on to play six seasons in the NFL with New Orleans and Cleveland. He published a book in 2017, “When the Lions Roared: Joe Paterno and One of College Football’s Greatest Teams.”


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