Tell me what I can’t see

It’s interesting but not surprising that radio can wind up beating television as a medium for the clear explanation of a sporting event. In Marshall McLuhan’s famous dichotomy, radio (along with movies and books) is a “hot” medium, becoming easily immersive by focusing on a single sense, whereas television is a “cool” one, providing multiple simultaneous streams of input that takes much more concentration and skill to take in and understand.

I’ve been trying to teach him the nuances of the NFL. He likes watching the games on television, he loves the New England Patriots–particularly Tom Brady–but he gets confused a great deal because the television announcers do a lousy job of explaining on what the play is, who’s in the game, and how the defense is set.

We tried computers. I bought an old Madden game as a learning tool but that also assumes a great deal of knowledge about the game.

Then this Sunday, we had to take an hour-long drive to meet my mother and do some shopping. We were driving back during the fourth quarter of the game between the Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens. I was dying to know the score, so I tuned into the our local radio broadcast.

And my son became enthralled … what he loved was that the announcers actually told him what was going on in the game. “Brady’s in the shotgun, three receiver set to his right, Kevin Faulk in the backfield, defense is stacking eight men on the line…Faulk goes in motion leaving an empty backfield…”

Television announcers seem to assume you can see everything in the game.  Or they’re flat out not as good. Take you pick.

from “When Old School Tech is Better,” by Corrina Lawson, GeekDad, 7 October 2009

Originally published at

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