The National Football League's playoffs are a ratings bonanza, attracting millions upon millions of viewers, including millions of little boys who love the game, one of whom is my 10-year-old son, Reid. The most intriguing storyline of these playoffs is the dramatic turnaround of the New Orleans Saints -- not only their wins on the field, but their dramatic recovery from hurricane Katrina. The Superdome has been transformed from a site of post-flooding nightmares to a gleaming and triumphant setting for victory.
So it was sad, but not unexpected, that at least one New Orleans fan would interrupt the festivities for something that remains far too common in sports today: emphasizing the "fan" in "profanity."
It's bad enough that you can't take your children to sporting events without wishing for soundproof headphones to protect them from the cascades of cursing that occur all around you. Too many fans clearly believe that the high ticket prices entitle them to bellowing tirades that would make your grandmother faint. Far worse was the decision of a network to spotlight the profanity on national television to poison the experience for all the young people watching at home.
After a successful Saints play during their recent victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Fox broadcast featured a close-up on three cheering fans. In the middle, as the center of camera attention, was a bouncing blonde woman in a skimpy black T-shirt with ironed-on letters clearly reading "F-- DA EAGLES," unedited.
Thanks, Fox, for entertaining my little boy this way.
This was not an incidental "oops" shot by Fox. Let us count the ways. 1) Out of 70,000 fans, this girl was targeted for coverage by the cameraman. 2) It wasn't a fleeting Janet Jackson moment -- it stayed on-screen for several seconds. 3) It wasn't even a live shot, where such mistakes can happen. That display of Saints fans' exultation was shot, then replayed after a replay of the successful action on the field. Thus, 4) it had to be the director's decision deliberately to air this footage on national television.
On national television. At about 8:30 p.m., during the "family hour" for those on the East Coast; 5:30 p.m., smack in the middle of the afternoon for those on the West Coast. When millions of youngsters were watching.
This potty-shirted girl was not the stadium's center of attention, as was the case with the infamous Super Bowl spectacle of 2004. It was not an unavoidable fracas, like say, the Detroit Pistons-Indiana Pacers basketball brawl that erupted between players and fans later that year.