Understanding the biggest controversy of this pro football season
This NFL season a new controversy has emerged among pro football fans: a growing resentment over the content the NFL and the networks won't share with the television audience. Call it the great All 22 Controversy of 2011. Media as varied as the Wall Street Journal, major sports blogs like Deadspin, even social commentary sites like the Good Men Project, and untold numbers of bloggers and commenters have all weighed in on this issue. But whether the NFL should or shouldn't allow fans to see certain footage is secondary to why they aren't showing it and what this says about us. So, what is All 22?
When we watch football on TV, the networks tend to follow the ball, showing us only the immediate action around it. There are brief "establishing" shots of a larger area of the field, usually just before the ball is snapped, but mostly we are treated to a variety of medium and tight shots from various tracking cameras. With this footage we get to see stunning acts of athleticism up close, and feel the intensity and speed of the action around the ball. What we don't get to see is much of the game itself. "All 22," on the other hand, is the term for the game tape created by cameras in fixed positions perched high enough in the rafters of stadiums to show all 22 football players on the field at the same time. The players look tiny, you can't see expressions on their faces, and you really have to pay attention to follow where the ball is. But because it enables you to see every player on every play it's incredibly valuable footage to anyone interested in the complex gamesmanship of an NFL contest. Every man on the field, on every single play, has specific choreographed assignments that he's following based on the play called.