Machine Design, Editorial Comment
December 7, 2000

The Holiday Season also turns out to be the time for playoffs in the National Football League. If you watch the games on TV, you know that the announcing crew is always at least a two-man team. It consists of one person to call the play-by-play and another to add "color," which is supposed to be expert opinion and explanation of what is transpiring on the field. But what "color" ends up being is some of the most vacuous chatter ever uttered by the human species. It goes something like this.

Play-by-Play Announcer: Well, Morris, what do you expect to see in today's game?

Color Man: We are going to see a hard-fought contest. You play this game to win, and if you don't win, you have nothing. So these two teams have come to play football. It's a must-win game for both teams because there is no tomorrow in the playoffs.

One thing for certain is that they are going to have to move the football, because if you don't move the football, you don't put points on the board, and if you don't put points on the board, you don't win. They are going to have to put the ball in the air, but they are also going to have to move the ball on the ground to keep the defense honest. You have to establish a running game if you expect to win, and they have the horses to do it.

They have been preparing for this game all week, and I can tell you there has been a lot of intensity in the practices. The visiting team has to score early to take the crowd out of the game. Both teams will have to hold onto the football because turnovers can be costly. If you make too many turnovers, you have an uphill fight. The receivers will have to run their patterns, but the coverage will be good, so the quarterbacks will have to be able to hit the second and third receivers. Time of possession will be important, so look for good ball control. This battle is going to be fought at the line of scrimmage, and the team that controls the line of scrimmage will control the game.

Now for a reality check. Every bit of the forgoing I actually heard on the air. I took notes as the guy talked. But he left out some stuff. Here is what the color man should have added but didn't.

What do I expect to see in today's game? I expect to see the coaches running up and down the sidelines waving clipboards and periodically adjusting their headphones. Players on the sidelines will have only marginal interest in the action but will do a lot of high fiving over nothing in particular. Periodically, TV cameras will show pretty girls jumping up and down. Defenders will celebrate with elaborate dances and gestures after even the most routine actions, such as making a tackle or knocking down a pass.

In the fourth quarter, I'll mention that it will be a long off season for the losing team. If the visitors lose, I'll point out that they are going to have a long airplane ride home. If the home team is losing near the end of the game, our cameras will stop panning the crowd so viewers don't see sullen faces and empty stands. We have to depict these games as being 100% excitement.

-- Ronald Khol, Editor