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The Media

Technology And The XFL 304

The new football league called the XFL made its super-hyped debut Saturday night. The most interesting thing about Saturday's games -- most experts said that the quality of football played was poor -- was the new league's efforts to use technology to penetrate every corner of the field, stands, sidelines, locker rooms, and games. It worked in one sense -- the debut was a ratings smash. But this may be a good example of how technology can take us places we don't really want or need to go. (Read more).

There was all sorts of "hi-intrusion tech" on display during the prime-time Saturday unveiling of this weird league. The XFL is the brainchild of the World Wrestling Federation's Vince McMahon, in conjunction with NBC. This was supposed to be a return of macho values and purity to the game of professional football, increasingly slowed down, corrupted and homogenized by TV, luxury boxes and the NFL money machine.

No fair catches in the XFL, trumpeted all the promos, and no sissified, overpaid, limo-driving superstars either. XFL players get a few thousand bucks per game, with a small bonus for winning. As a result, we were told, they were all playing for the love of the game.

But in the two games I watched parts of -- New York vs. Las Vegas and Orlando vs. Chicago -- what was interesting was the use of tech devices to take viewers places they supposedly had never been and would love to go. Las Vegas' telecast required 27 cameras and 26 wireless mikes.

There were robotic cameras rolling over the field on special wires, and helmet-wearing munchkins carrying portable cameras all over the field. The players and their helmets were miked and equipped with portable cameras. Cameras went into the locker rooms before, during and after the game. They were on the sidelines in between every play. They caught grunts, complaints and curses. Especially the grunts. It's almost unbelievable how many different ways people can grunt. And one memorable inside-the-locker-room shot of the New York/New Jersey team caught a huge linebacker getting the top of his butt rubbed down.

According to USA Today, the XFL premier posted a surprising 10.3 overnight rating in 49 large TV markets. (Each overnight rating point equals 675,000 TV households. A national rating point equals 1.02 million homes). The first half hour of the Las Vegas - New York/New Jersey game drew a 17.7 rating, the highest for a Saturday night on the network since the Olympics in October. NBC said it expected to do especially well with the XFL's target audience -- males between the ages of 12 and 24. After Las Vegas, the highest-rated XFL market was Birmingham, Alabama, with a 12.5, followed by Memphis, with an ll.4.

Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura provided surreal in-the-booth commentary before roaring off on his motorcyle, raking the NFL and pointing out loudly and repeatedly that the XFL was "free" and boasting that it was "intrusive." WWF broadcaster Jim Ross described the Chicago-Orlando game as a "slobberknocker." On the XFL, he crowed, viewers could hear anything, go anywhere, and players could curse, bellow and be vulgar without fear of penalty or fines. This was, he suggested, a return to the glory days of American sports culture -- just what we need -- and new technology was going to pull it off, he pledged.

It's hard to get behind the idea that you could invade the collective privacy of football teams and coaches in prime-time television. But this was a case of technology supplanting the event itself, and overwhelming its participants. All-seeing tech devices are, after all, only as good as the things they capture and represent. There were giant digital TV screens and shots of wiggling cheerleaders with enormous breasts. Fans captured from every conceivable angle (their comments were actually more interesting than the players). XFL workers fired T-shirts into the crowd out of bazooka-like launchers, and elaborate fireworks exploded whenever somebody -- anybody -- scored.

Truth is, we saw too much. The athletes and coaches had mikes stuffed in their faces continuously, but hardly any of them had much to say except "wassup," and "yo," and "we're gonna go get 'em." Several embraced the bizarre and growing NFL practice of thanking God for touchdowns (does he really get into that?) If the player's comments were numbing, the coaches's speeches were even less inspiring -- "they're not beating us, we're beating ourselves." The range of camera angles was exciting but dizzying and confusing.

Simple, wider and more distant shots would actually have captured the action much better, perhaps even preserving the illusion that there was good football being played. It seemed that from the perspective of their helmets, the players have the worst view of anybody. As it was, we got incessant, insider shots of nothing in particular, usually other helmets. And we learned Saturday that the intimate utterances of most football players in most circumstances -- huddle, catch, tackle, injury, score -- are usually not worth hearing.

Just because we can use new technology to go places doesn't mean we want to.

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Technology and the X.F.L.

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  • I didn't mean to imply that the outcome of the games was scripted. I do believe that 90% of the XFL players out there are trying to play football as if they were in the NFL or whatever. But, for the few people that I felt they chose as "stars" (such as the "he hate me" person), they still played the game professionally while the game clock was ticking, but outside of that, some of their actions *felt* scripted. There were a lot more altercations after plays were completed in the early part of the game than I would expect from an equivalent NFL game.

    So I agree that the games are not fixed, but some actions unrelated to the outcome of the game appear to be, as to increase the 'plot' of the overall season.

  • When an offense is clicking, and really rolling, the defense can know what ever single play is and still not stop it. Such an offense also takes a lot of time to actually work together, and this looks like what marred alot of the XFL's play... offenses that didn't work well together.
    (as opposed to a defense, which can be readily thrown together for the most part)
  • Just kidding. Okay, not really.

    Ridiculopathy XFL Coverage [] []

  • $4500 a week over a 10 week season. Plus the time they have put in for preseason practice, for which I understand they were not paid. $45,000 a year sounds like very little to me, especially when you factor in the ongoing risk of career ending injury that they assume.

    with humpy love,
  • That's just ignorant. Jesus never made anyone do anything except make a choice. Live free, or die chained.

    with thanks to New Hampshire for their motto on that one.

  • I agree. The actual football was enjoyable, sort of the same charm of watching a good high school or college game as opposed to the NFL, which I find boring.

    All in all, I'd say it wasn't too bad for it's initial run. They'll tighten the whole presentation up a bit, I believe. I agree with the poster who said to get the cameras out of the crowds. Those shots were mortifying. Also, keep the WWF personalities out of it, except for the broadcast team of Ross and Lawler (I thought they were great).

    I hope that there is a good level of parody between the teams, because I enjoyed the Chicago game (it was close) a lot more than the NY game (blowout).

    One more thing: despite the WWF being involved, the games have to be on the level, because there are Vegas betting lines on the games. As another poster pointed out, the pure betting demographic is huge in and of itself. If there is legitimate action to be had on these games, some people will watch just for that.

    I hope the XFL does well, and I hope it works on the strength of the actual football being played, not on the carnival taking place around it.
  • I'm still waiting to see someone yell at Jesus for making him drop a pass, fumble, lose a game. They thank him when the win-- they shoul dcurse him when they lose.

    "Yeah, I missed the field goal, but it was Jesus's fault. Fuck that guy."
  • I find it funny that they dont blame their "god" when something goes wrong. Funny isn't it?
  • Most experts said that the quality of football played was poor

    It did not take an expert to see that. Horrible ball, barbaric attitude. Couple interesting angles, I guess.


  • McMahon doesn't own all the teams. It's a franchise deal, just like local restaraunts that are part of a franchise chain. The local team is owned by local people under a franchising deal with McMahon (or XFL league) so that they can use the XFL promo images and such, and the XFL can use their team name and logo in promos, but the team and stadium is still owned by the (hopefully) local owners. Unless someone from out of town decided to purchase the franchise for the town. But it still wouldn't be owned by McMahon or the XFL specifically.

    1. The broadcasters know who to focus on because they do their homework before the game. In all sports, the broadcasters have statistics on all of the players, as well as notes about which players have been standing out in pre-season, or did well the last game, or if the coach was pissed at a player, or whatever. And usually, star players make the plays, which is why the focus is on them after key plays.
    2. The confrontations aren't scripted. People get into fights. Are you going to watch a hockey game and tell me that all of the confronations are scripted? No, you aren't; the only reason you'd do it with the XFL is because Vince McMahon happens to own it. Please, just because the man is a wrestling promoter doesn't mean he rigs everything he touches; to think otherwise is very naive.
    3. The games are on par with college football, not high school. It wasn't NFL-level, that's for sure, but the NFL has bought all the good players already -- where would you rather work, where you can make millions per season, or at most $100,000 per season?
    4. The stadiums are real stadiums: Soldier Field, Giants Stadium, Pac Bell Park, etc. I don't know which game you were watching, buddy, but when I saw the seats they were many of them, and they were packed.
    5. The XFL isn't sports? That wasn't football? Excuse me for asking then, but if it wasn't football, what the hell was I watching?

    evil adrian
  • The announcers were almost the worst part of it. I've grown accustomed to announcers talking about the game, the plays, the strategy... not about the cheerleaders and how bland, wrap-them-up-by-the-legs tackles deserve a "He smacked him down!!" in the announcer's best primitive grunts.

    I watched a bit of the NY/NJ vs. Las Vegas game. One pass was deflected by a defender into the hands of a Wide Receiver for a TD. The play-by-play announcer (not Ventura) called it "sloppy seconds". I wonder how many parents heard, "Daddy, what does sloppy seconds mean?" "Uhh, it's, um, when a ball is deflected for a touchdown. Yeah, that's it".

    The TV work & quality reminded me of cable-access broadcasts of HS games, the quality of football looked like nonconference division III football, and the announcers reminded me why I'd rather watch "Touched By An Angel" than "Smackdown". Guess I'll have to let NFL2k1 run live simulations of games if I want to watch football between February and August.

  • Earlier today we get an article short on technology and long on political agenda--not even remotely "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters."

    Now this.

    Granted this earlier article generated a lot "Me too!" and self-sanctimonious, back-patting, and this article is stirring up a good deal of posting; however, Slashdot is spiraling down to "News for the Lowest Common Denominator. Stuff that Sells."

  • At any rate, why do people assume that because I'm a geek and have a high IQ, that I shouldn't be able to bench press my weight or that I think sports are pointless?

    /s/people/slashdot readers

  • I've been in Canada too long. I just realized what I miss about the USA the way it was before the intellectually and politically correct goon squad mind police somehow seeped their values into the collective American consciousness. In Canada, if you so much as look at a tit, you risk being arrested for harassing eye movements.
  • They may not be pro calliber players, no, but a lot of people still very seriously enjoy good college football. The players in the XFL were all very good college football players. (Whether another college football league is viable is another question, of course, but I think the XFL is supposed to be more about the spectacle than the sport. I was just saying that the XFL's ad campaign was misleading in that regard. They promoted the sport when they're really trying to sell the flashy/jiggly things.
  • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @07:05AM (#452578) Journal
    With the exception of the midget cameramen, it's nothing new. The NFL's developmental league (NFL Europe []) has had:
    • Helmet cams (first tried, with poor results in, iirc, 1991, then brought back in 2000 with better results)
    • Miked coaches (been on since I started watching in 1997... I think it goes back to 1995 or 96)
    • Cameras in locker room (put in in 2000)
    • The umpire cams were first tested in NFLE last season
    • Some players were miked last season, as well (at least one per team per game)
    Of course, 3 of 8 XFL coaches were NFL Europe coaches last year (Al Luginbill (LA, Amsterdam), Jim Criner (Las Vegas, Scotland), and Galen Hall (Orlando, Rhein)) and a majority of the players have played in Europe (the Las Vegas backup tight-end is even a German: Werner Hippler)

  • I caught the Sunday games (was out Saturday night) and I liked what I saw. Sure the football was a bit poor in spots, but not horribly so. What did people expect? I'm sure things will improve over time. It was still football and the rule changes did add a little excitement. Is the punt returner gonna get killed because of no fair catch? No since the defenders can't cross the line of scrimmage till the ball is kicked (note they didn't make a big deal about that change) But it eliminates all the times you get to watch balls roll towards the end zone while the kicking team waits for it to stop right before the end zone. The scrum at the start is a little hokey - but I thought it was pretty cool.

    As for technology - heck it was their first weekend. THe first sign the XFL will succeed is if they tweak things as the weeks progress. Yes, the player interviews before they could play was stupid. But I really liked hearing the huddle conversation and what the refs said to each other before they finalized the call. The on field cameras are great since in the NFL you rarely see what happens in the backfield once the ball moves forward. The stadium screens were amazing - when the camera caught them - it looked like a computer imposed image. Impressive!

    I think they need to get the yellow 1st down line technology - that's great. But I also think teh NFL WILL borrow some ideas from teh XFL as well as use it as a new recruiting tool.

    Besides, I kinda like watching players working to win some cash. The last second field goal to win the game for San Fransico was great.

    So cut them a little slack. Yes they are overhyping things - but damn the Superbowl is hyped MUCh worse. The use of off field technology will go through some growing pains.

    After all.. When was the last time YOU deployed a product and got it perfect the first time? I didn't think so.

    Regardless, I'll be watching next week since I really like football and I can only watch so many college basketball games beyond those with my team (GO HEELS! #1 baby!)

  • by TheOutlawTorn ( 192318 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:03AM (#452583)
    Just because we can use new technology to read Jon Katz articles doesn't mean we want to.
  • 6. Key players will have a scoreboard video intro scored with a rock song as they enter onto the field. Prior to the snap, players may use a wireless microphone for talking trash about the other team over the stadium loudspeakers.

    Did you watch the game on NBC. This actually happened. Home team got to announce themselves, each team got their own "theme song," and players mikes were indeed piped over the loudspeakers.

    The rest of it was pretty funny, though. :)

  • Is the XFL really about football? Everyone I talked to who saw the games just commented on the cheerleaders and their revealing leather outfits. I saw a few minutes of the game and the football wasn't that great. Seems to me the new league is more about watching scantily clan women than football. If that's the case, fine, but don't try to pass it off as football. Khyron
  • Although it wasn't rife with insight (not intended as a slight -- after all, what brilliancies can be deduced from the existence of the XFL anyway?), Jon did an excellent job. This was a pleasure to read.
  • by aiken_d ( 127097 ) <> on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @09:15AM (#452596) Homepage
    ...I was at the San Francisco / LA XFL game on Sunday. I've been going to home 49ers games since 1978 (when they were 2-14 on the season!). I love football, and while I can't claim to be a world-class expert, I know a fair amount about it.

    So let me briefly defend the play during the first XFL games.

    Yes, it was sloppy. Yes, much of it was high school caliber. But I think it's a mistake to rush to judgement here.

    What I saw was football play about on par with the second half of an early exhibition game in the NFL. You've got 45 guys who just met each other three months ago. They have no experience playing together. Coaches don't know who's really going to play, and who just wants to be there. Nobody's figured out how to use the rule changes to their advantage (though LA's surprise 3rd down punt was pretty clever, given the live ball rule).

    Football is an incredibly complex and demanding sport. I personally don'r expect the XFL to ever deliver NFL-quality football. I could imagine it producing NFL-europe caliber play if it can keep going for a couple of years... and that would be good enough for me.

    I largely blame the XFL itself for the way everyone's rushing to condemn the quality of football. By focusing on showmanship rather than the game, they imply that they've got the game all figured out. Or that they don't care about it. I don't think either one is true (at least, I hope Dick Butkis wouldn't sell out that badly!)

    So look at it as entertainment. Don't expect great football in the first year, probably. But don't be down on it based on the first game in the first season; a good game of football is a lot harder than it looks!

  • and I thought that it was very entertaining (not in the same sense as wrestling, which I don't watch) for what it was. I wasn't looking for NFL [] calibre play, so I new I was there looking for some type of game. I have to admit, I was very pleasently surprised.

    The few things that stuck out with me were:

    Yes, the camera work is a great idea - I can't say it was done well because, well, it wasn't, but, we are talking about the first weekend [] of this. Having a couple of camermen (read: targets) ON the field during play was a great idea, I liked being able to "be in the tackle" and I also liked the view from the camera suspended above the field behind the Quarterback (while a columnist from The Chicago Tribune [] said that "there's a reason why people want tickets on the fifty yard line").

    As for play, well, the opener wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. The televized game was (this is also a segue into a con) The New York / New Jersey Hitmen [] vs. The Las Vegas Outlaws [], it was a trouncing!!! The game ended up being 19-0 LV. In the 4th quarter they switched games over to The Orlando Rage [] vs. The Chicago Enforcers []. This was what seemed to be a very decent game. But, the question that was running through my mind the whole night was - "I'm from Chicago. I live in Chicago. Why the hell am i watching NY/NJ play LV when my home team is playing?!?!?!"

    Granted there are pure hard-core football fans but those fans are more of a fan for their home team [] so one of the many things that will have to be looked over is the regionalizing of games. I watched the first games because I wanted to see if the XFL [] was going to be football, not a show of tits and ass and wrestling hoaxes. I'm going to stay a fan NOT because of the XFL but because of the teams and The Enforcers in particular. Yes, there was a huge showing of tits and ass and in most cases, thats a good thing. But, if i want to see half-naked women on a saturday night or sunday afternoon, I'd give my girlfriend a kiss on the cheek and see a fully-naked woman infront of me (and her breasts aren't fake)

    The trips into the locker room (which were heavily hyped) were less than spectacular. The miking up of more than 20 people made for quintessential four-star-five-second-delay-goofs (maybe they need seven). They also have to get betterannouncers []. There was virtually no insight into the game or who the players were. But I did have the opprotunity to have Gov. Jesse "The Body" Ventura [] scream at me for over 2 hours.

    If you were/are a fan of old-school football when guys actually got popped this may be for you 'cause the rules made the game. I'm not trying to say this is some hard-core rough-nose football that is sure as hell going to impress everyone (I've seen Lawrence Taylor play live) but these guys are out to win. The starting salary for Quarterbacks is $50,000, Kickers get $35,000 and everyone else gets $45,000. The incentive is that with every regular season game, the winning team splits a pot of $100,000. The championship pays a pot of $1,000,000. So in fact, they arent paid all that much to play - but they do get paid more to win.

    Other noteworthy rules are:

    No fair catches. Recievers are given a 5 yard "halo" that can't be breached until he catches the ball. I can tell you now, as long as its only a five yard penalty for breaching it, the kicking team is going to do all they can to kill the poor-lame-duck-reciever.

    One man-in-motion towards the line of scrimmage before the snap.

    Bump-and-run all the way down the field. If the Defensive End can, they can have their hands on the wide reciever throughout the entire play with a few exceptions. 1) Until the ball is in the air 2) The Reciever passes him (no hitting from the side or from the back). This can maked timed plays (eg. 12 and In) very difficult.

    No coin toss. The ball is set in the middle of the field and one player from each team run 20 yds and fight for posession of the ball. Kinda cool but, a player from Orlando (I believe) seperated his shoulder during this and was out of the game before it even began.

    The four games (eight teams) are played on seperate nights, two on saturday and two on sunday.

    The ratings showed that people were definitely interested but that was the first weekend, let's see what happens in the weeks to come and if they can keep their fan-base. All in all *I* thought it was an enjoyable weekend of football and seeing how it is in its infancy - I'm sure it'll only get better.

  • As an ex-offensive lineman, "real" football isn't about the 80 yard touchdown catches or wild high scoring games that the XFL promised. Real football is about who has the bigger, faster, stronger guys who can push, shove, and outsmart the other team. That isn't always very exciting to watch; running plays that get five or six yards per carry that form consistent drives that eat up the clock. Don't get me wrong, flashy camera work and buxom cheerleaders are all well and good, but the roots of football don't involve that sort of stuff.
  • Insert obligatory "I'm too 3l33t to watch barbaric insulting sports, in fact I'm too enlightend to even watch TV, it's only for those who are under me on the intelligence scale." post here.

    Sheesh, sometimes the posts here sound a little too close to the "master race" propoganda the nazis prattled on about. Just cause you are a geek doesn't mean you are superior to all who don't feel the same way as you.

  • It wasn't about the Cheerleaders, and anyone who bought into that hype was played for a mark. The cheerleaders actually got very little airtime. It was all about the football, or at least, the XFL brand of football. If you watched the game expecting scantily clad cheerleaders, you were probably disappointed.

    Hell, forget watching the game ... you probably didn't even READ my post, did you?

  • 6. Key players will have a scoreboard video intro scored with a rock song as they enter onto the field. Prior to the snap, players may use a wireless microphone for talking trash about the other team over the stadium loudspeakers.

    10 bucks says I think this will actually happen.

  • And a certain Mr A. Cox of Swansea, Wales, is a big fan.

    He'll be a bit depressed over this weekend's result, though.

  • I don't think there was anything new done with technology during the XFL broadcasts, just more. Imagine a print journalist saying: "After the game, I promise to interview every starting player and I'll print the full results on the internet and then in the paper." How is this different than a print journalist interviewing every starting player then giving us the interesting parts in excerpted form? Not different, just more.

    At least Katz isn't claiming it was an interactive broadcast, like he did with last year's Academay Awards.

  • >>>>>
    If you do want to talk technology in sports broadcasts, let's talk about the Super Bowl, with the matrix-like images (which do work well), the masking of the 1st down line in real time, and the broadcasting ability to manipulate that many cameras and personal and produce a quality broadcast.

    Well, I've watched the superbowl (one week later) [bored me to death, but that George Eddy commentator here has an atrocious accent which spoils whatever comments he does], and while I'd really love to see the "Matrix" effect in action over here, I must say that I'm unimpressed by the orangish 1st down line.

    In the European Rugby Cup, and now in the VI Nations Tournament, whenever a penalty kick is to be kicked, they draw in real time a distance line, with the actual distance (though their advertised 10cm precision look a bit extreme for the capabilities of a 750x625 bitmap...), and that's about a second or two, no later, after the kicker has prepared his ball on the ground.

    I'd really love to see a dynamic off-side line on replays of actions where a not that obvious penalty has been awarded (dual off-side lines for mauls, scrums and line-outs, of course)...

  • But your example is, at least, a participatory one. The person playing Quake3 is, at least somewhat crudely, participating in a social game. The person slobbing on the couch isn't participating in anything more than his girthline growth.

    The nearest example I can think of is watching a movie. That's not participatory. But there's a story, at least, and the brain can enter fantasyland for a while.

    With football... do people actually become absorbed in the game, fantasize themselves as the players, become emotionally involved, etc?

    I say, turn off the tube, get your buddies, and head down to the pool hall...


  • Then why did you?


  • I do fail to see how you expect "privacy" in the middle of a football field with hundreds of thousands of fans watching your every move.

    I *would*, however, expect (nay, demand) some privacy on my crapper.
  • We all know that the moves that are put on the mat in WWF are scripted and mostly stunts (still dangerous, but definitely not skill)...

    How is the scripting of the WWF different from the scripting of figure skating or gymnastics? Yes, the result of each WWF match is predetermined, but the real judges are the fans, who know that the ref is just part of the show.

    And besides, anyone who has ever watched an international ice skating competition or a Las Vegas/Don King fight has seen a fixed sporting event anywhoo.


  • I wouldn't be surprised if the league's top players see this as a springboard to the NFL. I'm specifically thinking of former NFL players like Vaughan Dunbar and John Avery. These two guys could be the XFL rushing leaders this season for small money to prove that they still can play, then be NFL back-ups for a few hundred grand per year.
  • <I>Part of these players' religious beliefs include being thankful to their diety for perceived blessings. </I>

    And another part of their religious beliefs prohibits them from expressing their thanks in an enormous stadium.

    (Matthew 6:5-6):: "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."

    These guys probably haven't even read the Bible they hold so dear to their hearts. Most likely, they're just working on that important public image. Jesus is a big moneymaker these days.

    --Reverend Nimrod
  • If the XFL drops 25% in ratings it will be a smash. All it needs to really succeed for the long term is a 4-5 rating on Saturday night. The USFL had extremely high labor costs and need far more media success than does the XFL.
  • Haven't spent much time in Florida, John. Sunday is for Football and Jesus, in that order. The relationship is explicit. And yes, God loves a footballer; he likes those dances they do, too.
  • I should be doing that too-- kneeling and thanking God for another skillful script on my machine or a great install or an excellent diagnosis of a problem on of one of our machines.

    I have a similar ritual that I find helps quite a bit. Whenever I get through a rough patch and my program finally compiles, or whenever I root out and correct a particularly intricate or bothersome bug, I push my chair back, stand up, point and the screen and yell: "THAT'S RIGHT, BITCH! HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?"

    It makes me feel good, and is often the difference between success and failure.

    Seriously though, I too realized that without a God, I am nothing. Then I realized that no Gods existed, and that I was therefore nothing. It was only through this realization that I was able to know what I was, and have any shot at all at being something. I suggest you read the Tao Te Ching for further insights.


  • A big complaint the media is making is that when the coach or QB calls a play, they use "code". For example, "24 slant right on 1." They are complaining becaus ethe announcing team is not telling the viewers what this means.

    Well, DUH! If they knew what it meant, it wouldn't be a secret play now, would it. Hell, all the defensive coordinators would have to do is carry a Sony Watchman onto the field with them and intercept the plays, then radio them to the defense! We're not SUPPOSED to know what these plays are. But hearing them anyway is kind of cool.

    The media can be so clueless and blind sometimes ...

    On that note, I should mention that the part I liked best is that the Announcers for NFL games try to over-analyze the game, and take the fun out of it. In the XFL, it's like two ordinary guys with Headsets of Charisma +2 enjoying the game and calling it like they see it.

  • I am not a huge football fan, but I like watching good, skilled football. I caught about 1/3 of one XFL game, before being sick by seing two "professional" football teams which would have had a hard time beating CAL [1]. It is a minor league, no question about it.

    Most of the camera work was distracting. The cameras on the field were pointless, the in-the-face-interviews of players was a waste of time, in general, the packaging disrupted what little substance there was.

    However, the above-the-field wired camera (which was positioned above and behind the QB) was a new and, IMO, useful angle. I'd guess that, of all the crap thrown into the XFL telecast, it will be the one new feature which ends up common in football telecasts.

    It gave a good sense of the flow of the game, from the offense's perspective. But, defense can wins Superbowls, and I wish they would also run a camera, in the same way, from the defensive viewpoint (but it might be too low to the field to do so).

    [1] Yes, I go to UC Berkeley (aka Cal). Our football team sucks. I'll still go to the games, but it doesn't change the basic premise.

    Nicholas C Weaver, Winged Rat Consulting []

  • by Flarg! ( 265195 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:07AM (#452662)
    Now parents have something new to blame when their kids go on a destructive rampage (Instead of their poor parenting skills)
  • No, don't watch wrestling. I feel my intelligence is being insulted when I watch. Nothing personal, just not my bag.
  • by Sodakar ( 205398 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:07AM (#452665)
    I played ball in high school, so it's not as if I don't understand football. But... from what I saw, I just saw a regular football game being played by some folks who weren't as organized as the NFL players. (notice I didn't say skilled, as some of them were clearly very good players)

    I somehow could not help but get annoyed when the players had to wait for the cameramen to get out of their way before getting to the line of scrimmage... That is REALLY uncalled for -- especially when it causes a delay of game. More cameras are nice... just.. stay out of the way, please...

    On the other hand, I do like the idea of them allowing all of the players to introduce themselves. Getting to know the players -- that is usually a desire of most fans, if not all.
  • The ref mics were hillarious. I don't even remember which game I was watching, but listening to the refs argue over "why in the world was that flag thrown," was side splitting. This was worth hearing, "Hey Ed, HEY ED, what number, what number was it, ED! I need to know what number....HEY, tell me what number so I can do this. NO! There is no number 47, pick another one.....fine 57 it is, hope he was on the field." (and indeed he was not)

    And then to see the ref walk over to do the official announcement all proper like.


    NOTE: this was posted while I had a fever over 102, please excuse any major mistakes, I was delerious.
  • I -liked- the XFL a lot. And judging by the ratings, so did a lot of people. So maybe your entire article is offbase, because the technology did take people where they wanted to go, but you're preaching to the sports-hating-Slashdot-crowd, so your article will probably get a lot of support.

    Just because you didn't like it doesn't mean it's bad/wrong.
  • It's hard to get behind the idea that you could invade the collective privacy of football teams and coaches in prime-time television.

    Give me a break. The NFL players grunt, curse, and everything else too. They just don't mike all the players up. Remember when the player introductions during the Super Bowl? I heard the 'f' word at least 3 times. According to people at the stadium, they heard it several more times over the PA system. It's not an invasion of privacy. They're just taking what really goes on and putting it out there for the world to see.

  • Hear hear! JonKatz, how can you, in the same sentance, admit that WWF physical stunts are dangerous, but do not require skill!?

    Of course they require skill, BECAUSE they are dangerous! Ever seen the Hardy Boys jump off the top rope, do a vertical 270 midair, and smack the guy on the mat with their head as they land (lightly, of course) That's precision jumping, man. Do that one wrong, and *crack* there goes your neck.

    The secret of Vince McMahon's success is simply this: He gives the audience what they want. For the XFL, he's started with the premise that people want a reduction in player commercialism and a higher focus on enjoyment, scantily clad cheerleaders, and a more "in-your-face" style of game reporting. Anything that isn't received well by the audience will vanish, or change, and XFL will evolve into a crowd pleaser variant of football. I just hope that they keep it fair and unfixed, which it looks like they will.

    As for the quality of football played, I thought it was decent enough to be entertaining, and it will surely improve with time as the franchise expands and attracts more talent.

    P.S. there's a lot of people saying this piece isn't "News for Nerds" and doesn't belong here... if that's the case, why does this story have 250+ comments within an hour? As far as I am concerned, anything that generates this much heated discussion among nerds most certainly belongs on a News For Nerds discussion group.

  • Doesn't "Bernie Vision" allow viewer selection of camera angles. I know you have to get a dedicated box to see it, but thats about it. I wish it was available in the US!
  • I have a feeling the "he hate me" phrase will be the next "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!" fad. Too bad you can't fit that on an XFL jersey.
  • The elimination of the "fair catch" rule was a massive bunch of hype; the XFL simply replaced that rule with the "5-yard halo" rule (where the punting team must stay five yards away from the punt returner until he touches the ball -- I think this is used in college football). I saw one of these called in one of the Sunday games, and it was a five-yard penalty.

  • I don't think the point of the XFL is stunning, technically precise football... some players aren't bad, the defenses are slow, and overall it's like watching a college game. But that's not the point... this is "sports entertainment" (Vince McMahon's category describing pro wrestling) and the idea is simply to entertain. I think it will get better as the players get used to the idea (five years ago no one in wrestling could cut a decent promo either, now anyone who wrestles has at least SOME small level of acting ability). The XFL will eventually be fun to watch if it survives more than a season, but it's never going to offer the level of play you find in the NFL.
  • My favorite thing about Christianity is that if God is all-knowing, then he already knows everything that's going to happen, including whether or not I'm going to accept Christ or not. And since God apparently created me, it's his fault if I don't.

    That second sentence doesn't follow from the first. The fact that God is all-knowing doesn't preclude the possibility of you having free will. Whether you accept Christ or not is entirely your decision - you can't duck it like that.

  • It seems to have a lot of the same qualities that made Linux so popular with geeks.

    • Most of the players are in it for the love of the game, not the money.

      The XFL pays very little, so the players are motivated by the desire to play football.Many have probably even taken a pay cut to allow them to play football, much like Linux hackers a few years back (and even the future, unless the RHAt shares go up.

    • The XFL embraces technology.

      Katz already covered all the camera tricks.

      One note, Jon, teh NFL has been using a ref-cam this year for roving images, this is where the XFL got the idea from.

    • The XFL is about openness, you can hear the player's comments in the locker room, in the huddle.

      Similary, Linux and Open Source software is about openness.

    • Woman in the XFL are used to sell product, much more so than in the NFL. In the NFL, you might see 2 minutes of cheerleaders in a televised game.

      This too is reminiscent of Linux and Open Source software. Who can forget all the posts about the young woman in latex acting as mascots for FreeBSD (and where were the shapely young men in tight latex)? Who can forget the hue and cry that prompted segfault closing their dicussion board after it was discovered that a female system administrator was quite attractive (and you trolls think Natalie-Portman naked and petrified was first).

      Contrast this with MS, who rarely capitalizes on sex appeal to sell their products.

    So, it won't suprise me is the XFL becomes and underground geek hits, like Junkyard Wars or Battle bots or Scrap Heap challenge.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:15AM (#452715)
    I would dare say that the XFL is about the technology. Sure, there were camera shots of things that we would never expect to see in an NFL game, and we had the "X-Cam" that provided the downfield view of the action as opposed to the typical sideline view.

    All the XFL is is trying to take what Vince McManhan learned from years of WWF wrestling television and that is making the spectacle more exciting than the sport. We all know that the moves that are put on the mat in WWF are scripted and mostly stunts (still dangerous, but definitely not skill), but what draws people to keep watching it is the trash talk, the babes, and the "thrill" of what goes on outside the ring. And that was perfectly duplicated in what I watched of that XFL preview - you had trash talk (hearing the scrimage talk over the mikes), the babes, and all those extra shots of locker rooms, etc etc. And even a causal watching of football knows that what was played was worse than most high school teams. Heck, the stadium looked like a large-scale high school or small-town college stadium.

    And while I'm sure no one is going to admit it, I do believe that there is scripting going on for some of the games and the confrontations between players. Most of these people are no-names, so how did the broadcasters know which people to focus on in the opening bits? And then was it a big surprise that these same people were the focus of some scuffles on the field after key plays? I wouldn't go as far to say that every play is scripted, nor the winner of the particular game, but some players have probably been told to liven things up to push the 'plot' forware. It's written very much like the WWF once you look under the surface.

    In other words, XFL isn't a sport. It's simply the WWF translated into a different realm.

    If you do want to talk technology in sports broadcasts, let's talk about the Super Bowl, with the matrix-like images (which do work well), the masking of the 1st down line in real time, and the broadcasting ability to manipulate that many cameras and personal and produce a quality broadcast.

  • Actually, what happened is that the defensive player totally missed the QB. He got a hand on him, but in the replay, it looks like no more than coincidental contact. That same reply shows the QB recoiling from the defensive player, and sitting down. Fact is, he could have a made a play, and chose to "sit this one out."

    The QB was pulled from the game just a couple of plays later. Of course, they were losing 19-0 at the time ... so the two may not be related. But I bet they are.

  • The X is for EXTREME!

    You know, as in, extremely boring, extemely pointless, extemely mind-numbing, and extreme insult of our intelligence...and last but not least, an extreme over-use of a buzz-word.
  • the real clincher, I think, is this: If God is both all-knoing AND omnipotent, what is the point of anything in existance? Those two elements combined seem to imply that nothing spontaneous ever happens, since God both knew it would happen and could have changed it (but if he changes it, he knew ahead of time that he was going to do that).

    We're just going through the motions, it would seem.
  • by sid_vicious ( 157798 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:17AM (#452727) Homepage Journal
    The athletes and coaches had mikes stuffed in their faces continuously, but hardly any of them had much to say except "wassup," and "yo," and "we're gonna go get 'em."

    Actually, I saw the Las Vegas game, and I think you're missing the most interesting folks they had miked -- the refs.

    Normally, the refs trot off to consult each other on a play, and you have no idea what it is that they're going back and forth on. It was really neat to hear them discuss their different angles on a particular play and try to reach a quick, but fair decision. You don't get that in the NFL.

    I don't see a future for the XFL (though I could be wrong). I think what's more important is how the innovations in the XFL will affect play in the NFL.

  • Well, take it as you want to but I think that the XFL is here to stay. Atleast for a couple of years.

    The first reason being that NBC does not have very much at stake here. Their saturday night lineup is pretty much non-existent. so they can afford to put XFL in their program. And lets face it, how many Americans watch hockey on saturday night.

    WWF/NBC have said that as long as they get ratings anywhere between 3 and 5, they are OK. So that means that even if half of the WWF fans tune in to watch the game McMahon is a happy camper.

    Speaking of technology, its refreshing to see a change in some of the stuff. With the 7-second delay, I don't think giving mikes to the players and coaches would have that big a concern. Maybe they can develop something along the lines of that EveVision(ugh!) and keep people interested.

    Now personally, I like some of the rule changes. The "sprint-toss" is a unique style to win the toss. Maybe, they should put something more at stake, like starting 10 yards closer to the opposing teams endzone or something.
    Of course, here in Canada, we're used to the no fair catch in the CFL. It'll be interesting to see how American players adapt to this. I think that the rating at the end of this year will decide XFL's future.

    peace out

  • Why would you be against Bad Religion? They're a great band, much more original than... oh.

    My favorite thing about Christianity is that if God is all-knowing, then he already knows everything that's going to happen, including whether or not I'm going to accept Christ or not. And since God apparently created me, it's his fault if I don't.

  • I don't know if you watch pro wrestling, but the WWF has excellent production values. Their nearest competitor, WCW, looks bush-league in comparison. Give them some time to work out the kinks. It was, after all, the first weekend of action.
  • Well, apparently you guys didn't think that it was all that interesting, but I for one, thought that the unique camera angles were great. Especially the downfield view. The camera operators, I thought for the most part, at least in the first half that I watched of NY/NJ vs LV, did a great job of following the ball around from that downfield view. Also the camera hovering above the field had a pretty unique perspective. And I did rather enjoy the fact that live audio was on all cameras all the time. What did bother me was that as soon as the refs started talking, is when they voiced over from the announcers and cut to commercials. If yer gonna have commercials, call more time outs, or make the clock stop more often. heheh
    The football played wasn't ---THAT--- bad, come on. I don't know how many of you saw the NY/NJ game instead of the Chicago game, but NY/NJ had a pretty darn good running game, until they got close to the end zone.
    I'm not even a football fan, and I kinda enjoyed watching the thing. I do realise that they are taking something they've learned from the WWF - Performance, and putting ritz and glitz behind it - but i thought it worked rather well. It may not be the most intelligent form of entertainment, but given the choice between XFL and WWF, I think I'll take XFL. And we all know that WWF is probably the least intelligent form of entertainment on TV today.

  • by British ( 51765 )
    Even though this article should be modded down(WAY offtopic), I'll ask anyway.

    NBC played the XFL on Saturday night(I miss the Pretender and the Profiler), and then the next day my local UPN affiliate played another XFL game, sans Jesse Ventura(who might I add reminded me of the color commentary he did in The Running Man).

    Does the XFL have contracts with TWO networks for ONE show?
  • This football article was a miscue, Jon (John?). It's finally become obvious that you are, in fact, John Madden.

    Consider the evidence:

    John Madden: "When you're behind by 20 points going into the fourth quarter, what you have to focus on is scoring."

    Jon Katz: "Just because we can use new technology to go places doesn't mean we want to."

    John Madden: "In a close game like this you don't want to turn over the football"

    Jon Katz: "...the intimate utterances of most football players in most circumstances -- huddle, catch, tackle, injury, score -- are usually not worth hearing."

    Jon Katz/John Madden: Master of disguise, Master of the Obvious.

  • that came out wrong.

    The skill needed to do the scripted and some ad hoc stunts in WWF as to avoid injury to yourself and your opponents while still trying to make it look real is not the same skill set as needed to be able to wrestle in an official event (such as the Olympics), where you need to overpower and outwit your opponent whom will use unpredictable moves on you in order to succeed. Both skill sets are valued by someone, but IMO, the latter skill is one that I'd have a bit more appriciation for when done well. So it's not that the WWF Wrestlers aren't skilled, just that they aren't skilled in the art of professional wrestling.

  • by laetus ( 45131 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:27AM (#452762)
    Several embraced the bizarre and growing NFL practice of thanking God for touchdowns (does he really get into that?)

    What's up with this Katz? Part of these players' religious beliefs include being thankful to their diety for perceived blessings. If they consider a successful play a blessing and they choose to thank their diety, so be it.

    Cheap and intolerant shot, Katz.

  • Sorry, but real football is about a bunch of people who love to play the game, who'd be on the field playing it whether they were paid two million a year or twenty thousand a year. What you mentioned, that thing about getting bigger, faster, stronger guys--that's football as a business. That's why I'd prefer to watch a high school football game any day--the NFL is a business, and no one there cares about the game, except a few who are vastly outnumbered. Even college football is a business, if you're a big time college with a big time team--for the staff it's about bringing revenue into the school, and for the players it's usually about trying to get scouted or about using status as a football player to coast through school, make contacts, etc.

    You never see real football there. You just see an entertainment business, in the end no different from any other TV show. It isn't a real sport. Real football--that was when I was at a small college, so tiny our football team had no chance of bringing the college any revenue and the players had no chance of getting scouted so they didn't even try. They trained as hard as anyone, and went out on the field not for money, not for a career, not for anything else but a love of the sport and a desire to kick the ass of the other team for the sake of pride and school spirit. No one was ever charged admission. People just came and sat in the bleachers or on the hillside enjoying themselves, drinking their own beer instead of $6.50 stadium brews. And the football team had fun playing heir sport, and we had fun watching them, the same way it was 104 years ago when our football team was founded. Now, that's *real* football, and most people will never appreciate it as much as NFL business BS.

  • Yep, the XFL's games are going to be running on both NBC and UPN.
  • The most interesting thing about the XFL is the babes on the field and on the sidelines, not the helmetcam.

    What the hell are you talking about, man? What about the guy on the Playboy Channel with the helmetcam? That's the whole premise of the show!

    Hah... "not the helmetcam" my as^H^Hfoot.

  • The Tech was neat, but the production values of the game is self were very poor. It nice to have 27 cameras running around the field, but you need a good director and production crew to choose the shots that actually look good.

    I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that they were playing on what looked like a converted track field or some kind of small stadium. All the shots were really grounded. It seemed to me that there was an effort not to show too much of the statium in the shot because it showed what a small opertaion it was. This created issues with the coverage. And the entire production suffered because of it.

    Beyond that the Players were poor. International American Football has better quality of players. I'm willing to be better coaching too. This was like watching a company football game.

    I just didn't get it. NBC knows how to put on a sporting event. This just wasn't up to par.
  • But God already knew what I was going to do. Heck, before I was even born, he already knew. Since he created the universe, he knew exactly the outcome of all events that would ever happen. Including whether or not any given person would accept Christ. If God created the universe, then everything that happened, happened because he wanted it to -- it cannot be the case that he created the universe to *see what would happen*, because before he even created it, he knew what would happen!

    Also, since God created me, and presumably gave me the intellect and upbringing and influences that I have, why isn't it his fault if I don't accept Christ? Everything God apparently gave me tells me that religion is bunk and that God doesn't exist. And yet I burn in hell for this? God is not only all-knowing, he's a jerk, too!

    Now I'm not saying that we shouldn't hold people responsible for their actions -- as *far as we can tell* we do have free will, and it's reasonable to continue acting as such. From a purely philosophical standpoint, however, if the Christian God exists, then there isn't any such thing as free will. The position and velocity of every particle at every point in time from Creation to the End, would be because God willed it.
  • by SpanishInquisition ( 127269 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:33AM (#452789) Homepage Journal
    Top 10 changes to professional football now that the World Wrestling Federation has started their own league

    10. League champions no longer empty Gatorade cooler onto coach, now they just whack him with a steel folding chair.
    9. New play in playbook: Wide receiver distracts referee while manager (coach) comes off of sidelines to tackle defensive lineman from behind.
    8. Playoff games require entire field to be covered within a steel cage.
    7. During timeouts and at halftime, the TV scene will break from the game to cover the in-fighting that goes on in the locker room.
    6. Key players will have a scoreboard video intro scored with a rock song as they enter onto the field. Prior to the snap, players may use a wireless microphone for talking trash about the other team over the stadium loudspeakers.
    5. After a safety is made, defensive lineman climbs on top of field goal post. (Crowd cheers). Then does a dive onto the already injured offensive player.
    4. Broadcaster's sideline table frequently collapses from players landing on top of it. Spanish annoucers table is fair game too.
    3. Controversial rule: A tackle is not valid until the referee's "3 count".
    2. All bets are off when the "special guest referees" get involved.
    1. Highest gross revenue next year from a single Pay-Per-View event: TackleMania

  • I'm not sure which camera angle you saw it from, but most of the LA game I watched was done from a "behind and above the qb" view. A nice change of pace as you could kindof picture what the qb saw.

    It would be really nice if they threw in a couple of plays from the QB helmet cam. Just so you could get a feel what he's seeing.
  • I completely fail to grok the attraction of televised sport. Except for women's beach volleyball, which is always, um, bouncy.

    I think that's the main attraction of the XFL: the cheerleaders. It's also the major application of technology in the game; whole new breakthroughs in silicone and saline...

  • Read that in an article. Makes me think someone in MS marketing used to play D&D, where XP's stood for experience points.

    Here's a thought. Maybe that's how Microsoft is going to qualify it's certication program. No more taking and passing classes. For each Windows problem you solve, you get a certain amount of XP's. After a certain number, you rise in levels. Heh.

    "Hey, what are you?

    "I'm a 12th level MSCE" "Damn, I just made 3rd level!
  • ...and no sissified, overpaid, limo-driving [NFL] superstars

    Jeez, you know, I thought they made pretty good money without having to rely on a second job as a chauffeur. They should go on strike for better wages.


  • by SuperRob ( 31516 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:48AM (#452810) Homepage
    Most people are pissed off about the XFL for two reasons. First, they are pissed because of the lewdness and debauchery (mostly on the part of the cheerleaders) that the XFL represents. Frankly, I didn't think the cheerleaders outfits were that much more revealing than most cheerleader attire, or even most swimsuits. But the XFL sold that "image" and got the press and attention they wanted. Anyone still complaining about it is probably against cheerleaders of all forms, or didn't watch the game.

    The other big argument against the XFL was that it wasn't "real" football. Anyone who WATCHED a game this weekend should have seen that it was indeed "real" football. Every possible outcome was represented this weekend: The blowout (Las Vegas v. NY/NJ), the high-scoring offensive battle (Orlando v. Chicago), and the last minute decision (LA v. San Francisco). No, they aren't NFL players, and it's not NFL quality, but to me, it's exactly what I want to watch: a bunch of ordinary guys having fun and getting paid for it. Not a bunch of millionaires and stuck-up announcers. The XFL is EXACTLY what it was supposed to be ... more football after the NFL season is over.

    Lambast Ventura all you want, but I have to give him credit for knowing when to all a spade a spade. (Same goes for Jim Ross.) When the Hitmen's QB sat down rather than get sacked (and the defensive guy only touched him), Ventura was quick to tell him that you aren't going to play much if you come to the game with that mentality. Quarterbacks aren't protected, and if your offensive line isn't doing their job, you're going to get hit. A lot.

    I enjoyed what I saw this weekend, and not just because I'm a wrestling fan. I liked it because it was different, it was energetic, and it was genuinely fun to watch. And I'll be damned if this "spectacle" isn't turning me into a football fan.

    Most interestingly, they had a guy playing for, I think it was the Outlaws, who was in the ZFL because he was released from the NFL because he was making too much money. He offered to play for less, and they wouldn't let him, because of the salary caps and mimimums. So now he's in the XFL, because he loves to play. And that was the whole point.

  • I agree, and, because of this, this story has about as much business being on slashdot as WWF Smackdown.
    Are you really that desparate for new material Jon?
    Lets get on to the real geek stuff!

  • The QB microphone was a little silly, since all I heard was "ORANGE! 88! ORANGE 88!! ORANGE 88!!" but I thought it interesting that after every penalty you'd hear someone say "My fault, that was me." And I liked the coach who kept trying to decide whether to "send in the jumbos", since I have no idea what the hell that means. I don't know what to think of the halftime cameras in the lockerroom, because although i saw it I wasn't paying attention, I had people over.

    When the announcers remembered that this isn't the WWF crowd (JR, please stop saying slobberknocker), there were some good comments (though not from Brian Bosworth). I liked Jesse once -- "What's that? They're gonna show us how dominant their running game is when they're behind 19 nothing?"

    Stop talking to the crowd. Get Stephanie McMahon and Coachman out of there. I would say get Lawler and Ross out of there too, but I think Ross is entertaining to listen to. Tell UPN and TNN to stop hyping the game like it's NASCAR. Seriously, I heard a promo on TNN last night where a bunch of yahoos said "These guys are playing to put food on the table!" and I thought "Oh, great, so now we're gonna condone cheating because they have to feed their kids."

    Personally I liked the football, too. More long passes, a few cool dives. The variety of plays was interesting to watch. Sure, it's no way near as extreme as they led us to believe (even in the FAQ it now says that XFL does NOT stand for "eXtreme football league"), but I liked it, what can I say.

  • Don't forget ... starting next week, XFL games run on TNN as well.
  • With this last SuperBowl, there weren't enough plays where the matrix shots were useful; there was the one runback where the player was running on the opposite side of the field from where the camera was, and was hard to tell how narrow a corridor he had to run -- the opposite angle showed it quite well.

    Sure, it was grainy, but that was to be expected; you had 27 live video feeds over a course of a play at 24fps for anywhere between 5 and 30 secs; at a modest 320x240 at 32bbp, that's nearly 6 gigs of data to process within minutes (since that was also used for any coaches challenge). If you reduce the resolution by half both ways, you cut that number by 4, and 1.5 gigs is a bit more reasonable to process.

  • by cje ( 33931 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:43AM (#452825) Homepage
    I think Bill Maher said it best, with regards to Kurt Warner's interview attributing last year's Super Bowl victory to Jesus. Why is there this inconsistency? If Jesus is responsible for football wins, certainly he is also responsible for losses as well? (That is, if he can intercede to win games for faithful players, certainly his lack of intercession can cause faithful players to lose games?) More succinctly: Why don't these players blame Jesus when things don't go their way?

    INTERVIEWER: Kurt, you could have won this game if your last pass would have been a couple of feet shorter; it would have been an easy completion and touchdown. What was the problem?

    KURT: It was that fuckin' Jesus, that was the problem!

    Of course, you could make the case that it is perhaps Satan that causes faithful players to lose games, but I'm betting that he's more of a soccer fan.
  • Being a BIGTIME football fan I do like the idea of an alternative to the NFL and its constant lack of football and more show. I am Uncertain that McMahon is the man for the job of NO SHOW though. the entire WWF was built on alot of fluff and little if any content. On the technoly part, WE (whoever we is) must be sending a message to THEM(again who are THEM?) that we need more. The constant barrage of REALISM TV, the lit-up hockey puck on FOX. For some reason the need for more technology seems to have leaked into the things we once held sacrid and "pure". I think the assume that because of the technology CRAZE they must assume if its possible to show it or do it PEOPLE WANNA SEE IT. If the ratings for the XFL continue to stay high, maybe we are wrong in saying its gone too far.
    Side Note I have not and do not plan on watching this series of Survivor strictly out of protest. I will rent BABES ON THE BEACH instead.

    Razzious Domini
  • Unless you're a crippled geek laid up in bed and desparate for something to watch on the boobtube, why would you *watch* football (or any other sport, for that matter) instead of *play* football (or any other sport, for that matter)?

    While this isn't intended to be a flame, why do you play Quake 3 instead of write it? Because its fun to see the the things that others can do better than you.
  • The X is not for Extreme, as has been explained by McMahon and the league on several occasions. The X doesn't represent anything, the PRESS are the ones to label the league "Extreme" even though they had yet to see a game or the production.
  • ...people fear change and new ideas. I realize that most of us here on /. aren't like that, but unfortunately we aren't the majority.

    This should have been modded as +1 Funny.

  • Well a few years ago (like 30 months) I sat around my friends office watching some footage his boss had brought back from the Italian Grand Prix (mainly of womens' behinds). The reason his boss had been there was helping with tests they were doing for see his boss worked for DPS (god I loved playing with the Perception RT.....even if it was under the sith :-)
  • Personally, I can't wait until one of the teams starts watching the live broadcast of the other teams's miked huddle or team conference.

    How much strategy can you talk on the field when you know that the other team could be potentially listening to every word you say?
  • "the debut was a ratings smash."

    One sunny day doesn't make it summer. Let the season run out and then determine how successful it is. The debut was at a time of year when it was guaranteed to get the biggest possible audience, it's something new, it's wildly over-hyped and marketed. Let the buzz die down and then see how much of a smash it really is.
  • Plus, even if they heard the call immeadiately, think about how hard it would be for the TV spy to relay it to the defensive co-ordinater to relay it to the defensive captain on the field to relay it to the squad? A tad longer than 3 seconds before the ball gets snapped...
    This could be the most fun part of the whole experience (if I ever get to see it...I'm in Ireland). Imagine the quarterback calling a play action sweep but in fact they aren't running a sweep at all but actually giving the hand off for a draw play. The D thinks it's managed to be quick enough this time to "out smart" them and that they have the jump, in fact the just have the jump on a fake play. Oh yeah and what team doesn't use audibles (call a shotgun 5 wide-receiver play but have your tight-end formation in and then audible it...what's a D going to do)? Is anyone trying to tell me that there is no way anyone has ever tried to use a long range mic to aid an NFL team, or at least tried to have someone evesdropping?
  • by pde ( 28299 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:55AM (#452845) Homepage
    "The most interesting thing about Saturday's games ... was thenew league's efforts to use technology..."

    How sad is this? I mean, really, Jon. Did you *see* the players? Did you *see* the cheerleaders? The most interesting thing about the XFL is the babes on the field and on the sidelines, not the helmetcam.

    OTOH, the most interesting thing about the Las Vegas game may have been how the XFL managed to get 45 guys under 30 in a group, and only 3 were named Jason.
  • by Alabastr ( 312299 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:57AM (#452848)
    I didn't catch any of the XFL games in their entirety, but having worked in the wonderful world of college sports information, I concur that, in the XFL and all other organizations, most athletes and coaches don't have anything interesting to say before, during or after the game. In fact I'm in favor of banning sports audio completely.

    I mean, part of the XFL's whole pitch was to recapture the glory days of the NFL. Well, part of that glory is that you *didn't* have cameras everywhere. You were only concerned about the game. I'm sure that the emotions on the field are interesting, but that's a task best left to NFL films, and best enjoyed long after the game is over.

    There is a lot of crossover between football and wrestling, and Vince wanted to capitalize on that opportunity. His timing couldn't have been worse, because the NFL is as good as it's ever been right now. In spite of that, you can't deny the ratings, and you can't deny Vince's marketing genius.

    Still, I'd personally enjoy the XFL more if they focused more on the game itself - of course the talent won't be on par with the NFL, but there's a lot of it on the XFL roster that isn't immediately apparent. I watch games in the comfort of my own home so I don't *have* to sit right behind the drunk middle-aged guy painted red and purple and screaming his head off. Don't try to put him in my living room and call it "interactive."

  • by NearlyHeadless ( 110901 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:57AM (#452849)
    I can't be the only one who that that XFL stood for eXtensible Football Language.
  • It's not an invasion of privacy. They're just taking what really goes on and putting it out there for the world to see.

    Uh, isn't that pretty much the definition of "invasion of privacy"? Would it not be an invasion of your privacy if the local TV news were to bust into your bathroom and broadcast you taking a crap? After all, they're just taking what really goes on and putting it out there for the world to see :)

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:58AM (#452855) Journal
    Right now, for example, in March Madness in basketball, alot of schools are making Big Bucks of off the mostly free efforts of the athletes. There has been some controversy over this, at least last year, in that more people want a piece of the pie.

    So here in the XFL, we have a bunch of guys playing for relatively cheap. How long before these guys want to have a bigger cut of the pie, especially if the XFL takes off? Or will they continue to do it for the love of the game, while the owners get rich and fat off their efforts? (if it succeeds at all?)

  • For the most part I enjoyed the first XFL broadcast.

    The XFL's competition, however, is not the NFL but rather "Survivor" and other reality shows. Katz says people don't want that sort of invasiveness. Fine, then explain the popularity of the reality shows.
  • by Minupla ( 62455 )
    Violence (on tv, in movies, in computer games, even in D&D games) has long been a traditional scapegoat for insuffiently involved parents.

    That being said, I certinaly see no need for *me* to be exposed to it, so I don't watch it. Nuff said.

    Remove the rocks to send email
  • by __aarrap2489 ( 79462 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @06:59AM (#452864)
    I'll admit I wanted to see what the XFL was like, so Saturday night I watched the NY Hitmen play the Las Vegas whoever. Anyway, I realized only a few minutes into the game that the whole reason for Vince McMahon to do this was for the gambling interests in Las Vegas. The announcers said flat out what the line was, and how many points were given. And just think about it, the first game, possibly the biggest game of the season for this new league, was IN LAS VEGAS.

    Vince knows what people want to see. He has perfected his art in the WWF. Now, all the cult followers of the WWF are going to do what they could never do with wrestling: bet on the outcome.

    On a side note, I wasn't very impressed by the resolution of the cameras. And I don't even have a DTV set. In fact the majority of the shots were so grainy that I couldn't follow the ball most of the time until the receiver had it.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.