Well, this is the end of filming practice from above isn't it? Right now. Better yet, five minutes ago.
It has to be the end. There is no reasonable explanation for this antiquated tradition that led to the death of Notre Dame student Declan Sullivan on Wednesday. Notre Dame did it because everyone else did it. Those essentially were ND AD Jack Swarbrick's words at Thursday's news conference.
And that begs the obvious question, why?
Why put a human (or two) up in what amounts to an unstable cherry picker to film a football practice? For decades now, teams have put the value of having an end-zone shot of a scrimmage above that of a human life. What, for a better camera angle?
Someone, at some point had to question it over the years. And I'm guessing those someones were shot down by football tradition. The same tradition that tells us that the NFL can't possibly go on unless defenders can play as wild and wreckless as they want.
Yeah, that tradition. Reading blogger Adam Jacobi's interview with an anonymous video assistant turned my stomach. When a thunderstorm forced the assistant's metal lift to come down, Jacobi reported the assistant said coaches "were not pleased" and "requested" that the video guys get back up in the air as soon as possible.
The mentality these days is that if you don't put a human 100 feet in the air with a camera, you can't possibly win. It must be impossible to evaluate a team just by, you know, watching them at field level.
If 100 feet is good, then why isn't 200 feet better? OSHA is investigating at Notre Dame. I'm sure they will find negligence somewhere. That's what we want out of cases like this. The wind was blowing in gusts up to 50 mph. Sullivan put out some chilling tweets while up in the air, finally tweeting, "Holy ----," 45 minutes before the tower came tumbling down.
But this has to be about more than Notre Dame. This has to lead to the elimination of the filming from these towers. Nationwide. Now. The NFL and American Football Coaches Association have to take the lead even if the NCAA doesn't.
It just seems silly that another person is put at risk by going up in these things, wind or no wind. I've been caught in students bum-rushing fields at the conclusion of games the past two weeks. Why was it allowed? No matter how many trespassers were arrested (Missouri) or how many were told to stay off the field (Wisconsin), it was tacitly approved.
Why? It was tradition. Schools could end these episodes tomorrow if they wanted to. Hire more security. Ring the field with police on horses. But that costs money and maybe the home team is gambling that it will lose and won't have to worry about it.
This case is simpler, and more tragic. Declan Sullivan should be the last casualty sacrificed at the altar of tradition.