Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Enough With The Jerry Jones Shots

TigerBlog really liked watching the Sunday night NFL game between the Giants (good) and the Cowboys (evil). He especially liked the end, when Eli Manning (whom TB has liked from Day 1 and likes even more now that he's won a Super Bowl) marched the Giants down the field and set up the game-winning field goal on the final play.

Still, TB can't help but wonder one thing about the telecast, and the telecasts of all Cowboys' games: Why the obsession on the part of the TV people with Dallas owner Jerry Jones?

TigerBlog counted the number of appearances Jones made on his TV screen and lost track around 15; a conservative guess would be that Jones was on 25-30 times. Why? Who could care about a shot of the owner? Other than fueling Jones' enormous ego, why show a picture of him, or any owner for that matter (Mark Cuban, etc.)?

It certainly doesn't enhance the broadcast. It's not as if even Dallas fans want to see shots of Jones. You watch the game to, uh, watch the game.

As an aside, TB once went to a Giants-Cowboys game at Giants Stadium to write a piece about then-backup quarterback and now Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who Princeton fans know as the 1988 Ivy League Player of the Year. TigerBlog spoke to some of the high-profile Dallas players about Garrett, including Emmitt Smith, who found a $20 bill in his pocket as he was talking to TB and became as excited as anyone else would be to find a random double sawbuck, despite the fact that he had just signed a huge contract extension. TigerBlog has never been 100% sure what to make out of that, because $20 to Smith was like $.02 to anyone else.

Anyway, after talking to Garrett (a total class act) and the others, TB was getting ready to leave, when Jones came up to him and asked who he was and what he was writing about. When TB told him, Jones immediately started talking about Garrett and insisting that TB write down what he was saying. Again, TB still isn't sure what to make out of that, because it was either 1) a very nice gesture on his part or 2) freakishly narcissistic.

Let's get back to the endless cutaways to Jones, though. To TigerBlog, it is so unbelievably obvious that they add nothing to the game other than to generate extra animosity to the man that it's impossible for a TV producer not to realize this. Yet nearly 30 times Sunday night, someone in the truck said these words: "cut away to Jones."

What's the lesson? Maybe it's that some things are so obvious, but the people to whom it should be most obvious are too close to the situation to notice. By now it's a habit to show Jones (and Cuban) during games, or equally as bad, endless shots of parents, wives, fans, etc. It falls under the heading of "they do it; they must have a reason for doing it; we should do it; now we do it; now we're used to doing it; now we can't stop doing it."

Here at TigerBlog HQ, we're about 15 minutes away from our weekly event meeting. It's a meeting that has taken on many forms during TB's 15+ years of attending them, from a room jammed with people to a smaller group to any number of other permutations.

These meetings now have settled in Tuesday mornings at 10, and they feature representatives from marketing, communications, the ticket office, the business office, event management, intercollegiate programming, corporate sponsorship and more.

Their purpose is to figure out what Princeton events should look like, what should be important. Any area is open to discussion - parking, pregame music, the video board, programs, kids' events, security, promotions, everything. There have been heated arguments, endless debates on what could be considered non-sensical issues, long discussions on what changes could or should be made.

As an aside, TB remembers one his first meetings, when Hank Towns, the longtime equipment manager, was complaining that Pete Carril's practices were running long. It led to this exchange:
Hank: "Pete's practices are running forever, almost until 8."
Administrator: "That late? Where are the players eating dinner. The clubs stop serving before that."
Hank: "Who cares about their dinner? Let them eat at McDonald's. I'm worried about my dinner."

The people in the room are united in their desire to be progressive without shutting out the traditional elements and constituents, to figure out what's in the best interest of Princeton athletics, teams and fans. And what drives it? Are we beholden to the desires of the coaches and athletes, or do the needs and desires of the fans matter as much or more? And which group of fans? Families with kids? Alumni groups? Faculty and staff? Students?

Attendance at Princeton events has always fascinated TigerBlog. Even after all these years, TB isn't sure what the right answers are or if we're successful in drawing crowds here. There are some who feel that Princeton Stadium should be jammed every Saturday; there are others who recognize that that is not realistic. We had 8,000 fans here for the Citadel game Saturday. Is that a good crowd? Ask 10 different people, you'll get 10 different answers.

One question TB always asks himself is: Are we missing the obvious? He hopes that isn't that case, but how would he know? Is there something out there so simple that it has eluded us all these years and all these meetings?

In other words, are we showing our fans Jerry Jones, when all they want is to see the game?

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