As you watch CBS’ coverage of the battle for the Final Four this weekend, please pay your respects to one of the pioneers of sports as we know them.
Sure, without James Naismith, basketball might not exist, but his efforts pale in comparison to the man I want to spotlight.
Yes, Bob Knight has the most coaching wins in Division I history, but he’s not quite as influential as the man you’ll read about here.
I want you to remember the man who was able to look past the exciting action of basketball and the compelling storylines of the coaches and players and at something fans at home really care about: the cheerleaders.
I want you to remember Andy Sidaris.
Sidaris, who died this month at 76, had a vision when he was working as a director
at ABC Sports. It was a simple idea, but one that changed televised sports as we know them.
It was the 1960s. Gathering around the radio and using your imagination to “see” your favorite team in action was a thing of the past. Television was the only true way to enjoy a sporting event.
Sidaris capitalized on the visual nature of the medium.
Rather than focusing on the boring shots of football players smashing into one another at full speed or men with skimpy shorts swishing long-range jumpers, Sidaris told his cameramen (who, at the time, were probably all men) to train their lens on the cheerleaders.
He also instructed them to find attractive women in the crowd and would cut away to shots of them without reason.
He called these “honey shots.”
Some may say this practice objectified women. They’re probably right.
Sidaris left his career in television to direct Playboy Playmates in action movies like “L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies: Return to Savage Beach” and, of course, “Do or Die.”
So it’s pretty clear where Sidaris got his drive to put beautiful women in the frame.
Critics often wonder what qualifies these women to be on camera. The short answer: low-cut tops and gallons of hair dye. The even shorter answer: nothing.
The first-down line, an omnipresent scoreboard, high-definition signals, aerial shots and parabolic microphones all help fans feel like they’re at the game.
But other than giving the home viewers a full picture of the action, there’s really no reason to show these women. But watch a baseball game on FOX and you’ll see plenty of shots of random fans of all ages in the crowd.
In reality, the 5-year-old child wearing a Cardinals jersey (size: youth small) is just as much a part of the game as the 25-year-old woman wearing a Cardinals jersey (size: youth small).
The stereotypical shots of cheerleaders are so much a part of televised games these days that without them the telecast would feel incomplete. They’re athletes too, after all.
If cheerleaders weren’t there to show fans at home which team is No. 1, who would?
Just imagine a game without them. It isn’t a pretty sight.
So when you’re watching the excitement of March Madness this weekend, every time you see a gratuitous, unnecessary shot of an attractive woman in the stands or a prolonged look at the cheerleaders, don’t blame an amorous camera operator.
Thank Andy Sidaris.