In The Atlantic this month, Mark Bowden delivers a terrific bit of sports writing without even leaving the parking lot at Giants’ Stadium. Bowden, best known for writing Black Hawk Down, introduces us to a CBS production crew working the Cincinnati Bengal-New York Giant clash. The Giant’s Eli Manning led his team to a thrilling comeback victory that Sunday in late September but Bowden’s star is Bob ‘Fish’ Fishman, a “sinewy” 59-year-old director with 11 Emmy Awards and a striking resemblance to Larry David. Bowden perfectly captures the technical complexity and frantic pace involved with bringing the pro game to life for the millions watching at home. Here’s a sample:
If the production crew of a televised football game is like a symphony orchestra, Bob Fishman is its conductor. He sits front and center in the dark trailer, insulated from the sunshine and the roar of the crowd, taking the fragments of sounds and moving images and assembling the broadcast on the fly, mediating the real event into the digital one. He scans the dizzying bank of screens to select the next shot, and the next, and the next, layering in replays, graphics, and sound, barking his orders via headset to his crew, plugging into a rhythm that echoes the pulse of the game.