Friday, January 30, 2009

Monitoring the Airspace Over Tampa

You ask me, there is a ton of steaming baloney being dished up this week from Tampa, site of Sunday's Super Bowl, where more than 4,000 credentialed media are humping out pointless stories that can be done (and are being done, and definitely will be done come Sunday), far, far better by the usual sources on television.

Face it, sports fans and editors: Sports (and football especially) is a story that television staked out a big claim on a long time ago -- and now totally owns. If television has real competition on this score, it's from online media, which often are being employed in conjunction with the flat-screen TV and Surroundsound.

[On the other hand, there is this trenchant point made by Charles P. Pierce in Slate about not only the feckless Arizona Cardinals, but also about the platitudinous shills who provide broadcast coverage of the game for the NFL. But hey, it is just a game.]

Anyway, speaking of online media, this site has an angle on the weekend's proceedings that seems unique: A real-time feed from air-traffic control monitoring the air space over Tampa. I was just listening to it, and an air traffic controller was giving hell to a media aircraft for hogging the space taking photos over the empty stadium.

Last year, this kind of thing was fascinating, because more than 500 corporate and private jets filled the skies over Phoenix, creating traffic jams before and after the game.

This year, the grandees are cooling their jets. It's too early to say precisely, but it appears that the number of private jets that will arrive for the Super Bowl is down very sharply.

Big corporate parties are also being canceled or severely curtailed. This ain't no party; this ain't no disco; with this crummy economy and everybody's spending mood soured, this ain't no foolin' around, to invoke the ghosts of the Talking Heads.

Given that one of the Super Bowl teams is from Phoenix, a place with tepid football enthusiasm but loaded with boosterism, and given the desperation of the central Florida and national media to pump up this slimmed-down, economy-bummed Super Bowl, here's my prediction of what we're going to see over Tampa this weekend:

A lot of hot air.


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