THE BLOG

Sports Abbreviating

11/10/2009 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

DirectTV appears to be a heavy sponsor of the U.S. Tennis Open with commercials for its NFL Sunday Ticket™, which gives subscribers access to any football game they want on Sundays. Many DirectTV customers/die-hard football fans probably already know, but there's also a program that can be purchased (additionally, I guess) called the "Red Zone Channel" that allows subscribers to feast on only the most exciting, inside the 20-yard line bits from all games going on around the league. That's the subscriber program I've been thinking about since watching the commercials this weekend.

It's similar to how I'd like to subscribe to basketball: only the last two minutes. Unlike basketball, however, we could actually play all football games inside the red zone by agreeing to a few rules changes that skip the prerequisites and simply spot the ball at the 20. For starters, I'd propose that if a team scores while playing offense inside the 20 they get the ball again, re-spotted at the 20. Only failure to score from within the 20 turns the ball over (or fumbles, or interceptions, of course, in which case the recovering team starts-in at the 20 yard line. Going forward, we will only need football stadiums with 20 yards of scrimmage area either side of a single goal post in the center of the field).

Soccer uses penalty kicks to decide games that are still tied after overtime. There's less excitement watching a penalty kick than a series of plays from inside the 20 in a football game, but a soccer match could be reduced to alternating penalty kicks. If a match continued to feature an hour of playing time soccer scores could climb astronomically. Games could finish with the score 45 - 44, meaning soccer might finally catch on in the U.S.

Without thinking too much more deeply about this (there is real work to do) almost any team sport qualifies for an "inside the red zone" short-cut designed to cater to Mr. or Ms. Hurry-up. Baseball, unfortunately, is no exception, though there is certainly a great deal that would be missed if the game were to dissolve into home run derbies. In contrast, there's nothing that would be missed in football about watching a run up the middle for four yards that forces a punt situation - except to a discerning fan, and there don't seem to be too many of those these days.

It's troublesome, all this sports abbreviating. Someone might do us a favor and just check to see how much sports abbreviating was going on at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire.

In the meantime, you have to respect the flexibility DirectTV is giving to their customers. With it, they offer a pretty good example of new media at work, which is tremendous access to desirable and relevant content (even if it sometimes reveals our impatience with everything but the action sequences in life).