Fox has had NFL games for 28 years if you can believe it. It appears that only yesterday they killed Angela Lansbury with the news that they had usurped CBS to grab the NFC package, which they have not let go of since (I was shocked to find that Lansbury, the famous stage and screen actress is actually still alive. , but it works for this joke). So you’d think they covered up a serious injury or two at the time. There is a way to convey the gravity of the situation, while showing even a little respect. The message doesn’t appear to have arrived.
We addressed this issue when Christian Eriksen collapsed in the field last summer and the world feed directed by French TV took a few minutes to realize it should stop showing angles of Eriksen receiving CPR or defibrillators in the field. Although he didn’t stop showing Eriksen’s girlfriend upset as she came to the court to find out what was going on.
Fox has overcome this. It was pretty clear in a second or two that something was seriously wrong with Donald Parham Jr. after he fell on the turf and hit his head. We have all seen enough football games to recognize “concussion arms” when we see them, correctly known as the “fencing response”. That didn’t stop Fox’s cameraman from rushing to get an angle directly over Parham and get a close-up of his unconscious face. For what? Shocking value?
So let me ask, what do we think anyone in Parham’s family or close to him would think? This is not a debate about what we can and cannot show in the newspaper the day after a tragedy like a school shooting, to inform people of the horror of something too many are ignoring too quickly. We all watch football, we know the price it can take, we know what concussions are like and what they do. This was an exploitation.
He certainly wasn’t helped by Joe Buck, who surely knows best, first saying they wouldn’t speculate about Parham’s injury, and then imagining that the terrifying sight of Parham’s arms still shaking minutes after his initial injury was somehow due to this “being cold in LA” How stupid does Buck think we are?
You can understand the impulse, but Buck should be above that. The sight of a horrific injury that could change your life isn’t exactly an advertisement for the sport. And part of Buck’s job, and a big part of Fox’s, is to sell the game. They need us to watch next Sunday (or Saturday this time of year), after all. Remembering what these kids risk won’t make anyone run for the remote. Getting a close-up of the damage isn’t a real boost to the game either.
But there are limits, and they are based on respecting the players on the pitch. We don’t need close-ups of a hit player. We don’t need broadcasters trying to downplay what we’ve all seen in the most clawed and unlikely way possible. At that point it is up to Fox and Buck to express the gravity of the situation without having to be macabre about it. They have failed on all levels.