If you like football, it’s just about the most dependable entertainment going on TV, year in, year out.

But it would be a whole lot better for us out here in TV-land with some changes. Not with the game. With the coverage.

First. The cameraman should never never pan the audience. There’s something about realizing they are “on camera” that instantly transforms stadium fans into blithering idiots. They wave, they point, they babble, they mouth, “Hi, mom,” they propose marriage, they hold up fingers signifying they’re number 1 when we can plainly see, on a scale of 1 to 10, they are 11, they hold up signs we don’t want to see.

Some wear ridiculous costumes or grotesque masks, hoping the camera will pick them out in the crowd. There’s no limit to what people will do for their 15 seconds of fame. If it’s hot, someone shows up in a fur suit. If there is snow on the sidelines, someone will sit half naked in the stands.

I don’t want to see fans performing for the camera. I don’t watch silly, screaming, costumed people on any other TV program so why should I have to watch them during a football game? I want to see the game. I want to see what’s happening on the sidelines. I like to see close-ups of the players but I wish they wouldn’t send messages either. I like to see close-ups of the coaches during the action. Coaches never send messages via the camera.

Second, skip the inane interviewer, often their token female staffer. This is the interviewer who asks questions that insult everyone’s intelligence because we all know the answers.

They go like this. The other team has just scored a touchdown that puts them ahead. The trailing team coach has a mike shoved in front of his face and the interviewer asks: “All right now, coach, you’ve just gone behind for the first time and there are 37 seconds left. Will this affect your game plan? Of course it will affect his game plan.

And when he loses 14 to 13, “Well, coach, you’ve just been beaten by one point. Are you disappointed?” Of course he’s disappointed, you bubble-headed insult to humanity.”

Or when the quarterback is injured and has to leave the game. “Well, coach, your quarterback is out and you’re behind by one touchdown. Are you worried? Of course he’s worried.

And when a star has been knocked out by a gang tackle, carried off the field and is sitting on the bench trying to get his head on straight and his eyes focused, and the interviewer dashes up and merrily asks: “Do you think you’ll get back in the game?”

Good interviews would add to the pleasure of the game. Sometimes players have something original to say, but not often, especially immediately following the game while they’re still gasping for air and grasping for a complete thought. Analysis, comments and predictions by coaches and announcers add color and interest. But an interviewer shouldn’t intrude on the action and shouldn’t ask questions so dumb any little leaguer would be embarrassed to answer. Coaches and players should refuse to comment on dumb, irrelevant or leading questions.

After all, the game’s the thing. Back to you, whoever you are, up there in the booth.

Mary McClure lives in Lawton.

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