Thursday, October 11, 2007

Don't Change The Game, Change The Presentation

Ever since the lockout the big brains of the NHL have been trying to change the game to make it as entertaining as possible. Most of the new rules that have been instigated in the first year I am not opposed to. The tag up offsides for instance should have never been removed in the first place. However the attempt to eliminate the trap by removing the redline has been a failure. The reduction in size of the goalies equipment has made a change albeit a minor almost unnoticable one. The best thing they have done so far is crack down on obstruction. By doing so it has added many more powerplays on average per game and this is most likely the reason for increased scoring, but apparently it's not enough for the NHL. So now the suggestion of changing the net size is the new great idea and has even promted Luongo to threaten retirement if this happens. I for one agree with him, and not because I am a small sized goalie. Also they are thinking of moving to 4 on 4 for the entire game. This is all being done with the idea that adding more goals per game increases the entertainment value of the game. This may be true if you're watching live just waiting for the chance to jump up and cheer (after all you didn't pour out a ton of dough to not be able to do so). But for those watching on T.V the feeling is definitely different. I'm going to suggest that adding more goals per game does not neccesarily add to the entertainment of the game. How do you add to the experience and excitement of hockey then? I'm glad you asked.
Three words, cameras, cameras, cameras! Just look at how well the NFL uses cameras to bring the game closer and more intimate. It only makes sense, the closer you are to something, the more a part of it you feel. Add H.D and you almost feel like your in the game. The first place I would add a camera seems obvious to me. Put a camera on a track directly above the rink, dead center running parallel to the 200 feet of ice. Put the camera on a swivel and not facing directly down on the action rather on a 45 degree angle, so you can get right behind the players moving up and down the ice. If it's got a slight wide angle you should be able to get most of the ice width-wise. Make sure the camera is manually operated so someone watching can determine the best focal point.
The second place on the ice I would add a camera has already been used in the past, although it was used poorly. That is the helmet camera. Now they put the helmet camera on the goalie and my response to that is, who wants to see the goalies point of view? He doesn't ever skate or move and can't possibly showcase the games speed. Here's a better idea; With technology today they should be able to put several incredibly small camera's on a player's helmet. Put one on the front dead center and two on each side. Then with computers you can intergrate the 3-5 camera's so you can see a full view of what say, a Sidney Crosby sees as he skates down the ice. You would see what's in front of him and who he skates past in his perephrial vision. That should translate into what the full speed of the game is. Of coarse the channel carrying this camera would only be able to show short clips of this, however that is where the internet comes into play. Generate more internet hits by having an all Sidney Crosby view where you can watch the entire game if you want from Sid the Kids view, the Sid Cam!
Finaly my most controversial camera idea and one that is probably not possible. I think the behind the scenes is important to people who want the full scope of hockey. Camera's respectfully used in the dressing rooms between periods to see the coach giving advice or even reeming out the team would definitely be entertaining. Right now channels hosting the games have their between period segmants (yawn) so this would be an exclusive internet camera. That way you wouldn't have to force players and coaches to tone down the language. Of coarse this idea is not for the younger veiwing audience unless you were editing or bleeping everything live. Now this idea certainly apeals to a different type of audience. The Jerry Springer, WWE, reality T.V audience who don't give a rats ass what the satelite hotstove is talking about. In this area of entertainment you would need Jeremy Roenick type players who pretend like the camera isn't there and speak their mind no matter what!
I'm sure there are other camera ideas out there that can improve the interpreting of the speed and skill of the game, a feeling you usually lose when you go from watching live to watching on T.V. Bettmen just ask your good buddy Jerry for some suggestions, he is after all a filthy rich T.V producer that knows what it takes. Just for the love of the game, don't make the nets bigger or change the game anymore radically to so called improve the game!!!!! The game is great, people just need to see how great it is with a better presentation.
Chris Clarke

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