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The science of football watching: TV mode

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by teamplay, Jun 1, 2006.

  1. teamplay

    teamplay Rookie

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    Summer topic for Patriot junkies:

    Each year I raise a little money for a local school by putting on a NFL football viewing clinic for neophytes. They all get confused by the "cloud of dust" problem: 22 men in motion at once, where's the ball, what just happened?

    I tell them that TV is a terrible way to watch football, but you can mitigate the shortcomings with a system. Here's my barebones system for beginners:

    How to watch a play:
    1. Generally know the score and game situation (what is each team trying to do?).
    2. Note the down and distance to go (at end of last play).
    3. Are they bunched tight or spread wide? (i.e. formations and tendencies)
    4. Follow the camera (...the ball, usually).
    5. How did they do versus down and distance? (I give them a chart of good, fair, and poor results for each down.)
    6. Repeat cycle.

    So, all you football zealots, two questions:

    1. What tips do you have for beginners?
    2. What tricks have you learned as a expert TV football viewer to get the very most out of watching each play on TV? For example, what keys to line play do you look for?
  2. PatsWickedPissah

    PatsWickedPissah PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I used to have my toddler daughter sit next to me on the couch. Then I'd say "Whatever happens to the person with the ball, will happen to you" and then I'd invariably tackle and pummel the little bowser at the end of the play. Lots of screaming. Explained that "There's no screaming in football." (OK only if you're Patrick Pass pulling a hammy).
    She learned fast. Made her MIT nerd husband into a Pats fan.
  3. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Watch the offensive guards. More often than not, they will lead you to where the play is going and you will see more of the play unfold than just watching the ball. For example, if they pull up in pass protection stance you'll know immediately it's a pass and then you can shift attention to what routes the receivers are running and what the quarterback is doing. If it's a run, the anticipated hole will usually be near one of them. The biggest problem with watching football on TV is you can't see what's happening in the defensive backfield as receivers run their routes.
  4. Hoodie

    Hoodie Rookie

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    I'm trying to help twin six year-old boys learn the game. You don't realize how confusing the rules can be until you try to explain them. You also don't realize how many questions two six year-olds can generate!
  5. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Get "Football For Dummies" and go through it with them.
  6. Hoodie

    Hoodie Rookie

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    Thanks I will. It's hard not to infuse my commentary with insightful observations such as, " he has bad hair, or he's got a cute butt, or she's wearing too much makeup." I fear my little friends will begin to think it's part football part beauty pagent.
  7. BruschiOnTap

    BruschiOnTap Rookie

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    Thanks for that!

    I've always felt they should televise football the way we play Madden, with a vertical view of the field. Then we could see what everyone is doing and cameramen wouldn't get faked out on flea flickers quite as badly.
  8. Tyler Faith

    Tyler Faith Rookie

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    As a woman, it's hard watching with girlfriends because they "don't get it" and sometimes it's hard watching with men because they don't want a woman's input all the time. It's tough.

    The biggest thing I tell my girlfriends is to learn the game. Once they understand it, they'll enjoy it...a lot. Especially because woman analyze things more and picking plays and strategies should be more entertaining to our gender.

    I've actually made a football field on paper at times for my girlfriends and really broken the game down, play by play. What position plays where and what they do. In many cases, they could care less. But some ladies have really gotten into it.

    If I'm going to go to the games with girlfriends, I don't want some idiot sitting there drinkin' her fruity drink and talking about this month's issue of Glamour. I want her in the game with me, cheerin' on the Pats and paying attention.

    For me, I enjoy it on TV and don't need to really do anything different to get into it other then pay attention. Obviously I like being at the games more but being in LA, I've gotten used to most of the season on the tube! :)
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2006
  9. GoWhalers

    GoWhalers Rookie

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    Tivo (or something like it) can also be a big help. It lets you slow down the game, go back to take a look at something in more details, etc. I remember my first times watching/playing ice hockey, how confused I was just by the pure speed of the puck and the game. Having a Tivo to make it easier to study would have been nice.
  10. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Football 101

    This sort of relates to the thread about spreading the game internationally.

    If I had my way, I'd get the NFL to put its resources into producing a series of TV programs/DVDs introducing the game. It wouldn't have to be too elementary (although it would have to be accessible to the unitiated). But it could include the history of the game, origin of the rules, early teams, etc. Also explanations of strategy and tactics (great coaches breaking down famous games, plays). Explanation of recruitment, training, looks behind the scenes, game planning.

    Given the NFL's resources -- the astonishing amount of film they have access to -- I can't imagine that they couldn't produce a great series.

    You could give this away to networks outside the U.S. and they could show the series at the start of a football season. Or sell it on DVD to fans (not overpriced).

    Now that would be really cost-effective marketing, because there's no doubt that football is a very, very complex game to understand. But once you start to appreciate the complexity, it's part of the fascination -- the way it goes together with the most primitive aggression and extraordinary athleticism. But you have to see all three together.

    For further ideas, e-mail me, Stacy James. ;)

    Oh, and for the title, see above ...
  11. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    1. Me (to six-year old daughter) "That one's Tom Brady. We want him to win!"

    2. Use the replay. Mistrust anything said by Paul Maguire. :D
  12. teamplay

    teamplay Rookie

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    I haven't graduated to Tivo yet, but I love rewatching every Pats game on tape. My wife thinks I'm completely demented, but it's the way to learn: watching individual players, watching the O-line synchronization, the blitz pickup, so many things you miss in real time. It's something I learned to do here on Patsfan.com -- so many of the local experts make reference to what they saw later watching tape.

    HOWEVER, going back to my initial inquiry, I'm looking for tips on "seeing" the most while in real time (TV mode). The offensive guard tips was superb; can't wait to try that.
  13. Hoodie

    Hoodie Rookie

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    I think I once read that the Pats offered an elementary football seminar for women to help them understand the game. That's where I read that the D-coordinator always wears red so that the defense can spot him on the sidelines and get their signals.

    I didn't know that before and I've been watching football for a long time.
  14. kurtinelson

    kurtinelson Rookie

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    #37 Jersey

    Its ok. They'd fit right in a Gillette Stadium.
  15. Pats726

    Pats726 Rookie

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    There is knowledge...needed to get to a certain point...and then???
    There are MANY that wish to go beyond that...BUT how does one????
    There are plenty who know football around the area...why not some type of class online OR??? )dare say it..) In the class room...A way to have football people make a few bucks in the offseason...adn for all of us who wish to learn more..MORE knowledge of the game!!
  16. Tyler Faith

    Tyler Faith Rookie

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    I've heard of coaches wives in the past teaching classes. I know Don Shula's wife used to have something like that before she died way back when.

    It's a good idea....even for guys who enjoy the game but never played it. There's plenty of behind the scenes info and strategies that can be learned.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2005
  17. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    There are two books available on Amazon.com written specifically about how to watch football on TV: "How to Watch Football on Television" by late sportscaster Chris Schenkel (pub. 1965), and "How to Watch Professional Football on Television" by Y.A. Tittle (pub. 1967). I've thought of getting these myself. I think they'd still be relevant even though they're 40 years old. I also think "Football for Dummies" has useful info for the neophyte, and I'm sure there are books on football specifically tailored to women available.
  18. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Actually, replaying the game with Tivo has improved my real-time "field vision." Watching the guards is a good tip, but too often the camera angle screens them from you. Then there is the famous ankle and butts angle or the helmet zoom so popular with producers. After working through a couple games with Tivo, I started seeing more detail as the play developed, for example: in the Denver playoff, Pats1 and I wrote in simultaneously that Ben Watson had whiffed on a block and blown up the running play. Because we weren't watching the ball, but looking at the blocking in front of the ball carrier, we saw the run stopped before the play was over - it also helped that it was an end zone camera shot.

    My ideal, would be a NFL Sunday Ticket channel that used split screen to show an end zone angle from behind the offense (shooting from about the height of the goal post to see over the O-line) and a wide angle shot from the side. They would need to have a ticker showing substitutions to help us follow things, but I'd be in hog heaven with that and a good radio team for the coverage.
  19. BruschiOnTap

    BruschiOnTap Rookie

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    There's a great one for women written by Rodney Peete's wife. It's called "Get Your Own Damn Beer, I'm watching the Game"

    I got a copy for my girlfriend last Christmas after I flipped through it in the book store. I highly recommend it to anyone trying to convert their own wife/girlfriend. For someone who's already a fan, it's also cool to read what a player's wife thinks about the game.
  20. Pats726

    Pats726 Rookie

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    I think the NFL could do wonders with all they have film wise...and what better way to explain football than by DVDs??? (OK OK..comic books would be great for Japan) but in many many places as they expand, a DCD learning series might be good!! AND I really think that would help...but what about the intermediate steps...for those that know some..have followed football some..I remember what Holley had said..He knew football (or so he thought..) and it was Eric Mangini who spent time with him to show him all he didn't know..ANd he said it was like another world of knowledge...
    I think there is a definite market for classes...plenty of fans who wish to know more..and many who have knowledge to share.

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