QUIET ON the set, please!
That's precisely what it will be today on all sets tuned to NBC sports for the final regular-season football game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. The game will be shown without any accompanying play-by-play announcer, or any "color" announcer, either. Fans will be able to watch the action, but they will not have the benefit of any retired quarterback or former coach to suggest formations or second-guess strategy.
Some cynic might think it appropriate that the Jets, with the second worst record in all of professional football, be given a dose of the silent treatment. Come to think of it, the Jet's performance has bordered, at times, on the unspeakable.
"That's not the rationale, however. In explaining the radical departure into quiet desperation, a spokesman for the network said that the announcers were being eliminated because they are "so good that our production people tend to use them as a crutch."
Without the helpful narrative or "crutch" of their polished announcers, NBC is confident that the people with the cameras will be inspired to innovation in the televised coverage. But the network does not believe that silence is really golden, as indicated by the placement in the stadium of 10 additional microphones to pick up more crowd sounds. That may be the most courageous decision of all, in view of some of the sounds overhead at football games.
Still, the experiment probably should be encouraged, because of the possibility of its catching on in other fields besides pro football. Any number of major speeches might have been better received if they had simply been televised without microphones. More than a few gold records would have undoubtedly provided, if given the chance, much more easy looking than listening.
NBC has been quite quite about today's telecast. The game announcers on the network last weekend simply advised listeners that the Jets-Dolphins game would be a "unique" or a "special" presentation. Probably no more should be required of the announcers. After all, it does seem a little unfair to ask Johnny of Philip Morris to trumpet the surgeon general's report.