‘Please — Please! — Don’t Look’

An immortal moment of broadcasting conscience on ESPN’s “SportsCenter”: The show was reporting on the death of Al Lucas, an arena football player who died in a game tonight after trying to make a tackle. One of the show’s anchors, Fred Hickman, read the item. As they got ready to show the clip of the play in which Lucas was fatally injured, Hickman said, “in the interest of decency, we invite you to look away.”

Then they played the tape.

The content of the video aside — uninterested as I am in ESPN’s notion of decency, I did not look away; the angle of the play they showed was just generic football rough stuff, a tangle of players hitting each other during a kickoff return — what a nauseating display of false piety and pandering: “Oh, we hate to do what we’re about to do; and you’ll hate us for it too — especially if you stoop to our level and watch what we’re about to put on the screen. For heaven’s sake, don’t watch this. It’s just horrible. Isn’t it? We’ll have a replay in 15 minutes. In the name of all that’s holy, please avoid it.”

I’m not saying ESPN or anyone else should refrain from showing the tape. Quite the contrary. The poor guy died in a public venue in the conduct of a sport that puts a premium on violence, even crippling violence, and ESPN promotes the voyeurism along with the rest of the media. So go ahead and roll the tape. Just spare us the solemnity. If ESPN had really wanted to make the kind of “in the interest of decency” statement it was pretending to make, the producers could have shelved the footage. What are the chances of that happening?

5 Replies to “‘Please — Please! — Don’t Look’”

  1. Does anyone ever look away? It’s like when a newscaster puts the caveat, “the following tape contains graphic detail and may not be suitable for children.” At which point all the small children in the house, who had no interest in the news whatsoever, come running into the living room to catch some graphic action.

  2. Well, we all know how effective the Explicit Language warning labels on CDs are.
    To Dan’s point, it is weird that the ESPN crew would warn people, because the play was very normal and looked harmless. I’ve seen far worse when the anchor says: “Look at this hit”…
    I saw video of this arena play on my local news (they didn’t give a warning), and it sure didn’t look grotesque by any means (anyone remember Joe Theisman’s broken leg?).

  3. I saw a commercial with Joe Thiesmann in it and a friend was telling me what happened to him. Since 1985 was the year that I was born in I do not remember seeing it on sportscenter. I was wondering if anyone could like eamil me a link of the video. I would really like to see it and all I can find on the net are these forum things. So I would greatly appreciate it if someone could send me a link or tell me where to find it. Thanks

  4. Yeah I just saw that gay commercial with the broken leg guy again and I was wondering if anyone could please tell me if their is a web site of him getting his leg broken. I have heard that it looks horrible and I would like to see it. I dont know if anyone even reads this website but if someone does please respond and let me know. Thank you for your time.

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