NFL locker room cameras a bad idea
APR 11, 2013 12:34p ET
On a logical and logistical level, it's somewhere between a reach and major potential headache.
The locker room is a sanctuary -- especially for players in the hours leading up to a game. Coaches who are almost always uptight and under extreme pressure are wound even tighter in those hours. Locker rooms are for strategy and preparation; a 100-plus hour work week is capped in the three hours that follow kickoff.
Locker rooms are also for non-shareable images and words that don't necessarily pertain to strategy; the "sanctuary" concept doesn't necessarily mean cupcakes and quiet reflection. Though we don't know a lot of details about how the NFL and its teams would implement this if it gets past the proposal and idea-sharing stages, there are many potential pitfalls.
The concept of mounting a camera in the locker room to feed upstairs to some sort of control room is an invasion of privacy on multiple levels, and that's before coaches worry about the wrong thing being said or shared. Bringing in a camera man (or two) and someone to hold a boom mic means three more people being trusted with state security secrets, not to mention three more people in the way of the 53 players and 15-plus coaches preparing for their televised trial of the week.
Trying to deliver even 10-20 seconds of relevant and interesting video from there on a game day is going to be more work than it's worth.
The NFL isn't wrong for thinking it can meld technology and star power in trying to combat the notion that its TV product has become too good, but it is wrong here. Security, strategy and players' game day routines would be compromised to produce something that might be interesting but isn't a guarantee to be any different than what fans see on TV regularly.
There's no guarantee a bunch of fans are going to see whatever would be put together, anyway. Getting 60,000-plus fans security screened and into stadiums efficiently is already a challenge. How many people are really going to quit tailgating 15 minutes earlier than they normally would to see a little locker room video? Not enough to risk the headaches this will cause with coaches and other team employees as anything that makes it to air will have to be heavily edited and approved.
From experience in working for the Browns -- and specifically in the areas of trying to bring fans access to the players in ways they can't get anywhere else -- I can say that the time for such access and special features isn't the day of a game.
About the only time I didn't find the Browns employing so much security laughable was on Sunday mornings. That's when things should be on virtual lockdown.
No matter what you do, if you work in the NFL you work all year for 16 Sundays, eight in your stadium. Giving fans an enjoyable experience and marketing your players as larger-than-life heroes is a big part of the job, but those tasks can both be executed and molded together without compromising anyone or anything in the private and intense pregame locker room.
After all, it's still about the games.
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