Philo T. Farnsworth is widely credited with inventing the modern television. As so often occurs, his name has been predominantly lost to the annals of history and/or Wikipedia.
Television as a medium has undergone substantial change in its eight-plus decades in the popular mind. The sternly paternalistic family shows ceded ground to the high Westerns, which in turn gave way to police procedurals. Now, we see a smattering of lascivious, alleged reality shows twixt high-class antihero dramas.
However, one form that has never lost its popularity is the game show. Game shows allow contestants to live briefly in an imaginary dream world, wherein knowledge of scattershot trivia and grocery store prices – or if you prefer, being yelled at by an egomaniac with a shoddy toupee – is all that matters. Reality shows are the modern iteration of this time-honored tradition.
For the approximately 99.99…% of us whose job title is something other than “reality show contestant,” spending our days toiling away in the relative obscurity borne of not being constantly monitored on camera, the sudden appearance of a full television crew at work would not be a welcomed development.
Having nearly every second on the clock documented for all of the world to see – and by world I of course mean people with an HBO subscription – would, at the very least, be incredibly annoying. Every minor foible, every moment off-task recorded, and subject to the whims of the editing process, available for the viewing pleasure of your co-workers and the viewing displeasure of your boss, whom you could only hope did not spring for premium channels.
And these aggravations do not take into account that the setting for Hard Knocks is not a typical day at the office, but rather an extended orientation/vetting period that will ultimately weed out almost half of those in attendance.
Your employer would have grievances of its own. Managing an office of nearly 100, as an NFL front office does, is a delicate task even without a gaggle of cameramen, sounds techs, producers, and so on milling about. This type of disruption is especially pronounced for an organization both as structured and wary of external observation as an NFL franchise.
The League, and it must be said, much of the media covering it and the fans avidly following said coverage, also displays a marked tic for tossing out the word “distraction” to apply to the slightest encroachment, real or imagined, of the outside world into its inner confines. This is one of the few times that “distraction” may fairly be stated without quotation marks.
And finally we come to the players. For them, unlike even the most stressful work environment you have inhabited, this is their lives. It is what they have been training to do, grinding to do, since they were small children. We need not debate the merits – and to be sure, there are a vanishing few – of “student-athleticism” to grasp the fact that, contrary to NCAA propaganda, most of these players will not go on to a satisfying career in something else. This is their one shot, and the tension is heightened accordingly.
These circumstances make for a solid reality show, but an horrendous work environment. So, on behalf of the Raider Nation, I would like to issue a hearty thank you to the Atlanta Falcons for absorbing the body blow that is Hard Knocks. We will enjoy the forced suspense and feigned character development from a comfortable distance.
At the end of the day, here’s what matters. Did the Oakland Raiders get left out to dry in not landing Hard Knocks? Not even close.