Thursday, July 09, 2009
The Unhappy Medium - brief update
The little diagram at the top left of the screen depicting the field placements when a new bowler was introduced is probably old news for regular Sky viewers, but it was the first time I had seen it. A simple, helpful idea, subverting the old TV problem of the necessary focus on the pitch to the exclusion of the outfield.
Why not apply the same idea to football? The tactical setups of the two teams are usually shown at the beginning of games, but if things change during the course of a game, or a substitution is made, TV is often quite slow to indicate the change clearly. Commentators, too, are often too busy calling the play to make the viewers aware of any tactical adjustments.
It needn't be intrusive. A goalkick, for instance, would be an ideal time to flash the original formation on the screen, and display the tactical shift graphically. And who would do it? There are always statisticians on hand at televised games, although organising proper communication between these and the broadcasters might be a delicate operation.
Worth a thought?
Hence my "anorak" comment. ;-)
...Plus, when Sydney has Johann Cruyff on the field the computer would just explode...
Ha! Looking forward to seeing the legendary Mr. Golec exploring his total football conception some more...
But important changes are made at all sorts of times, and often the supposed formation listed at the start of games proves out to be inaccurate anyway. My mind goes back to the Australia vs. Croatia game at WC 2006 when Hiddink switched our formation significantly after just a couple of minutes when Croatia scored. From the stands I wrote down us lining up as 3-6-1 but two minutes later had to change it to 4-2-3-1. Similar story to the 2005 WCQ playoff in Sydney against Uruguay actually, except then it came with a substitution (Kewell) and plenty was said of it. On the DVD I have of the Croatia game, Simon Hill says nothing IIRC.
Then there's the UCL final this year, when the global broadcast listed the Barcelona formation as their regular 4-3-3 with Messi on the right wing and Eto'o cental up front. As it turned out, Messi was central but deep while Eto'o was often on the right in a 4-3-1-2 or 4-3-2-1 formation. This deserved a lot more acknowledgement but I would guess that most of those who read Mikey's piece on the game here wouldn't have really taken notice until they came here.
"And apart from the tactical analysts like yourself, who can generally notice the change themselves (especially these days in widescreen) I don't think there's any need."
TBH I actually think it would largely prove to be interesting even to the casual viewer and get people more mentally involved in the game.
I wonder if the raw data that goes into these analyses would be available? Eventually I'd love to see real-time feeds of this data, so that (likely on a computer over the internet) you could see a real-time plot of each player, their heat maps, etc, and whatever else genius computer programmers around the world can come up with.
I never taken to cricket, but as a complete ignoramus of the game I could understand the tactics a bit more when commentators were using their mouse and crosses to explain how the ball swung or how the field was positioned.
We will have a huge audience for the world cup many of which wouldn't have seen a football match before or just a few.
What a great opportunity to show the tactics of the game, formations, type of kicking, dead ball tactics, basic rules.
I know that some devoted football fans may be annoyed to have all that explanation, but if it makes some people new to the game appreciate it more and perhaps become permanent fans I am all for it.
I think SBS has done a sterling job in past World Cups, but I think they assumed that everyone was a cognoscenti. Foster's commentary may be OK for them but I don't know those who aren't into the game would stick around for them.
Being visual during the match is the key.