I think in the future the big events—the World Series, the football packages, the Open, the Masters—are going to get bigger, but I doubt whether they're going to skyrocket any more. I think skiing, surfing, sky diving—sports that reflect the needs of the time, that have an undertone of danger—will grow, too. I think there will be a leveling off in weekly baseball games, minor golf and track, because they will be judged on their economic merits. I think the future of amateur sports is very bright now that we have communications satellites, as most international sports are amateur. College football will also grow, because it's more than just a display of skill—it has spirit, it's fun to watch.
I think there will be four divisions in the NFL, with two playoffs and a two-out-of-three series to determine the champion, and that the AFL will play its games in the spring.
Next season the AFL will be faced with an almost total blanket by the NFL. The NFL is going to run eight doubleheaders instead of five, it's moving its opening back a week and, in effect, it's eliminating the blackout, so the AFL will no longer have any markets all to itself. If, in the face of all this, the AFL can maintain its rating levels, it'll be a sensational performance. If it can't, it will have to move to a time when it is not opposite the NFL. What network would put it on at night, in prime time? So the AFL will be forced to move to a different time of the year.
I also think you'll be seeing manufactured championships. We'd put up anything to get an NFL-AFL championship game. And they'll be staging match races of different kinds, like who's the best race driver—Clark or Foyt?
One reason televised sports are so popular is the overall growth of sport, but another is the changes in television itself. There are fewer and fewer live shows, which have the potential of something out of the ordinary happening, something going wrong. For example, the big quizzes are history. People like to watch people in dramatic situations, they like the unpredictable, the unknown, they want to watch something that has the quality of an event. It television goes to more and more Academy Awards, Miss Americas, live pickups, it will satisfy some of the viewer's need for sport. If it doesn't, and relies more and more on filmed situation comedies, sport will grow until it's scheduled into prime time on a regular basis.
We're going to use satellites to a greater degree, particularly when we get portable ground stations. Traditional times for viewing sports will alter. People on the Coast watch the Army-Navy game at 10 a.m. and don't think there's anything weird about it. There'll be more light, portable equipment, so we can get closer to the action. We're still shackled by cables and mikes. We'll try to design a tiny camera to put in a racing car without affecting its weight. We'll use microwaves, or cableless television, for golf, so if a key play occurs on the 11th green we will have covered it ahead of time and be able to show it on tape.
The more we advance technically, the harder we make it for ourselves. And when you think you're getting something for free, you're a good deal more critical of it than if you're paying. If you shelled out $8 to get into a stadium and could barely see the field you would still go home feeling how lucky you were to be there. But when you see the same event on television for nothing you raise a fuss if we blow a draw play.
We started all this, I'm sorry to say. Sometimes I wish we hadn't, and were back with four cameras.