Memo to networks: give angry athletes some space
When Chicago Bulls big man Joakim Noah was caught on camera cursing out a fan the other night in Game 3 of the NBA's Eastern Conference Final, it illustrated one of my pet peeves about televised sports.
Noah was fined $50,000 for an anti-gay slur. I have no problem with that. The intense Noah said the fan yelled something Noah perceived to be "disrepectful." Probably so: the things NBA fans yell at players these days -- even players standing a few feet away -- would make a drill sergeant blush. But Noah stepped way over the line with his response.
My problem with the whole incident is this: why do the TV cameras have to linger on the athletes in these situations?
In this case, Noah had just picked up his second foul in the first quarter on a borderline call. He stalked to the bench, obviously upset.
Which is when the TNT cameras chose to show a close-up of him seething for several seconds before eventually lashing out at the fan heckling him.
Hey, TNT, look at the combination you had at that moment: big-time pressurized situation, intense, volatile athlete, questionable call by the refs.
Think something might come out of Noah's mouth in that situation besides: "Goodness gracious!"
So why keep the cameras trained on him when you know full well what could happen?
I'll never understand it. Sure, it's the networks' job to show us the passion and emotions of the games and athletes they cover.
But we had already seen Noah's on-court reaction to the ref's call. We'd already seen him stomping to the Bull's bench. We knew he was ticked off.
There was absolutely no need for the cameras to linger in his face until he erupted at that fan.
That's way more up-close and personal than most viewers -- at least this one -- want to be.
Getty photo of Joakim Noah / May 15, 2011