Observations from a day that wasn't just Any Given Sunday:
Was this the NFL? No animated robots or electronic sounds introducing graphics. No proclamations of importance from hosts of pregame shows, the broadcast booths or swaggering players. No gratuitous camera shots of drunken louts in the stands.
Didn't miss them one bit.
The toned-down approach was so appropriate, the network sports bosses should be reassessing how soon, if at all, to return to presentations that in retrospect appear contrived and unnecessary.
Fox, CBS and ESPN took care to be tasteful in their coverage of the league's first games since the Sept. 11 terrorism. Fox's Terry Bradshaw and CBS' Jerry Glanville were subdued, and ESPN's Chris Berman temporarily shelved the shtick. But I was touched most by the sincerity of Fox's usually off-the-wall comedian Jimmy Kimmel, and by Fox's Boomer Esiason, located near the downtown rubble, who spoke about breaking down during his eulogy of his best friend, lost at the World Trade Center.
Once the ceremonies at the stadiums concluded, game announcers and analysts -- at least during Giants-Chiefs and Jets-Patriots -- stuck to football and didn't avoid using much of the familiar terminology of the game. That was just fine with me.
Discerning fans understand that during a telecast, employing phrases associated with football and war doesn't equate to being dishonorable or insensitive to the victims or their families. It's all in the context and the decibel level. If Giants radio announcer Dick Lynch, whose son Richie has been missing since the World Trade Center attack, had used the word "blitz" Sunday, how could anyone in his right mind have criticized him?
On the other hand, we've entered an era where business as usual in sports media is not in the cards. World events will reshape some telecasts. Expect more breaking news cut-ins, and perhaps more postponements if the situation requires.
At the least, the networks should agree to televise the national anthem before each game, at least for the rest of the season. The ad market is already soft, so another 60 seconds without commercials can't be so damning, can it? Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports, which will televise the Winter Olympics from Salt Lake City in February, said NBC will televise the national anthem on its events, primarily NASCAR races, "until further notice." That's a start.
From players and fans from the NFL to the NHL, we noticed more sportsmanship. Hopefully, this new consciousness will continue as long as possible. I liked what I saw during NBC's NASCAR event in Dover, Del. It featured a rarity: a race car without corporate logos. The crew of Ken Schrader's M&M's-sponsored car spent 13 hours plastering stars and stripes decals all over. A dreamer might call it a sign of the times.
With the revised Major League Baseball postseason schedule and Michael Jordan's comeback, which may be announced Tuesday, Oct. 30 looms as a huge Tuesday night on the tube. Game 3 of the World Series will be televised by Fox and Jordan's Wizards will face the Knicks at the Garden, which is ticketed for MSG and TBS. ... ESPN, not MSG, has the exclusive telecast of Eric Lindros' first regular-season game against his former team, the Flyers, Nov. 14 at the Garden.
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