Until the 1960’s baseball was the undisputed most popular sport in America.
Then everything changed.
People often wonder how or why this happened. Certainly the rise of television broadcasting had something to do with it, and the genius of former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle persuading team owners to aggregate their TV rights into a single contract in 1962.
But there is a story seldom told (recently by The Atlantic) of an independent filmmaker who forever changed the way sports would be watched simply by telling a more compelling story and changing the lens by which people view it.
Prior to Ed Sabol, the founder of NFL Films, games were shot on one camera from high above the entire field. Have you ever seen an old football game? It’s like watching little ants in tiny uniforms run up and down a green patch of grass. Ubiquitous microphones, in-huddle cameras, acute closeups, slow motion, an omniscient voice over, even putting a mic on the coach, these were all Sabolian additions to how the game is watched today.
By viewing the same sport from 3 inches away as opposed to 300 feet away, the entire dynamic changed. As Rich Cohen says, Football wasn’t a game, it was War. Vince Lombardi wasn’t a coach, he was General Patton. Every championship became Normandy. And the feverish affinity to the hometown team became nationalistic.
Want to know something interesting?
Romeo and Juliet wasn’t the first time a story about star crossed lovers was told. Shakespeare hijacked the tale directly from Ovid, almost in exact detail. The difference between the two is in framing and in context. Shakespeare’s tale dives so deeply into the texture of the human condition that the story becomes more than a play. The lens he uses to tell the story displays much more vivid detail and many more layers than did Ovid’s, and the distance from the protagonists much nearer. Ovid tells a tale of romantic tragedy, Shakespeare handcrafts an obelisk to young love.
Telling the story of your new startup or café or the village you are working with in India is one thing.
Telling the story in a level of detail that depicts the disposition of your work and the essence of your plight is very different.
The former is about blog posts and content calendars and what video camera to use, the latter is about the deep contemplation and self-examination that seeks to answer the question, why is what I am doing both important and worthy of attention?
In the end, telling a story is never only about the story itself.
It is about the clarity of the lens you use to tell it, the distance you keep your audience from the heart of it, and the precarious decision of what to leave out of the frame.
Your Fellow Misfit,
PS – Speaking of great storytellers, my buddies Paul and Roger have a fascinating podcast called Business Jazz. Last week they bounced on a recent article of mine and a newsletter of Chris’s. I think it’s a fabulous show. Both of them make me jealous with their radio-quality voices.
Also, this weekend on the Pursuit of Everything Facebook page, Jessie and I did a small giveaway of 10 free copies of Chris Brogan’s new book The Impact Equation (not an affiliate link). Chris and Julien are brilliant and generous humans. And I strongly suggest you pick up a copy this week. I’m trying to help in any little way I can get them on all those big book lists. 🙂
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