As we approach the 25th edition of VideoFest, I have been looking through the old program books. I was reminded of a program we did in Year 1 called “Sports as Video Art.” We talked about how watching Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on TV over and over again brought us instant replay, we had film critic J Hoberman talk about why a World Series game was in his top 10 films of the year, and we talked a lot about NFL Films, the company that change the way sports was filmed and appreciated. (Incidentally, it’s also the company that dubbed your Dallas Cowboys “America’s Team.”)
I bring this up because Steve Sabol – the heart and soul of NFL Films – passed away Tuesday. Sabol and his father, Ed, created a new way to look at a sporting event. Not just observing it, but searching for the drama. Instead of just following the action, he looked for the sweat, the character, and he created the story. In every NFL film, there is a story that works like any story you would see in a movie or on TV – three acts with conflict and music.