I've been waiting all week for a Roone Arledge piss take. Unfortunately, now that one has arrived, it's a snooty neo-Chayefskyan lamentation about television's lethal powers, courtesy of Allen Barra:
Roone Arledge made TV sports into an entity that seemed to exist only to be broadcast: to be broadcast, commented on, edited, replayed, replayed and replayed. And then replayed the next day. The viewer became bombarded with so many images, so many angles of a particular play, that it no longer seemed as if television was creating the illusion of reality. More and more, the message that came across was that reality itself was an illusion, simply the result of which camera angle filmed the replay you saw.
A trip down Implanted Memory Lane shows how all our hoariest Great Sports Moments—Notre Dame's Four Horsemen, Red Grange's Rose Bowl, and presumably Achilles' slaying of Hector—would only have been soiled by the presence of tv cameras. In the end, of course, the real tragedy is what's happening to the children:
All the replays and camera angles haven't made us more knowledgeable; they've only succeeded in undermining our faith in the officials who call the games. A generation of fans has grown up without knowing how to watch a game unfiltered through the sensibility of Roone Arledge's vision.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the most memorable sports moment of my lifetime was Bill Buckner's letting a ground ball go through his legs at the 1986 World Series. And without endless replays isolating and accentuating Buckner's doofusy expression and Beckettesque immobility, the moment wouldn't have had nearly the same effect.