Saving The Thin Yellow Line

Grown men are weeping in their Bud Lights. Sportswriters are squawking. Just what is it about that darned yellow line?

Ever since Fox Sports cut the beloved digital first-down line from its football broadcasts, Sundays haven’t felt the same. Fox says the technology costs too much—some $25,000 a game—and so Sportvision, the New York special-effects firm that provides the line, is looking for a corporate sponsor to pick up the tab.

“People love the line. They’re telling us, ‘I miss it when it’s not there,’ ” Sport vision CEO Bill Squadron tells Shoptalk.

If that sounds heart wrenching, consider the postings from the lovesick wretches on Love theLine .com, a Web site set up by Sport vision. “I am a 75-year-old fan of football and that [line] is the best thing you came up with since color TV!” writes one. Enthuses another: “I love the Line and I want More!!!!” And there’s Shoptalk’s personal fave: “If Fox is really looking to save money, they can start by dumping Jimmy Kimmel.”

It’s unclear if Ben Stein would take Jimmy back, and so Sport vision is feverishly searching for that sponsorship, although NFL rules would limit it to a brief mention before kickoff. Sport vision might do well to consider firms partial to yellow (Ryder Trucks, French’s mustard), but other possibilities abound (New Line Films? Priceline?).

Squadron says fans will be appreciative: “It will create an association of goodwill for any sponsor who brings it back.”