Grantland Takes on the Legacy of the ‘Fox Box’

Great piece by Grantland’s Michael Weinrub today on the “Fox Box”–the 1994 Fox creation which displayed the score of the game on screen at all times during its NFL broadcasts. After some initial whining over its decorum, the “Fox Box” soon spread to practically every sports broadcast in the universe–immediately changing how we enjoyed our games.

Explains Weinrub:

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came out 25 years ago this month, and undeniably impacted the way a generation of youth talked, dressed, and lip-synced to Wayne Newton songs. Much of that movie is timeless, but here’s one thing that isn’t: When the high school principal, Ed Rooney, wanders into a pizza shop, spies a baseball game on the television set, and asks, “What’s the score?”

The joke is that Rooney, preoccupied with his manhunt, poses this question without actually noticing the game at all, because in 1986, this question didn’t require self-conscious thought. (When the pizza shop owner answers, “Nothin’-nothin’,” Rooney says, “Who’s winning?” and the owner grumbles, “The Bears.” Subtext: High school principals do not follow sports.) In 1986, “What’s the score?” was among the most common queries in the English language. It was a point of entry, a gateway to small talk. A way for our mothers to attempt to command our attention. Upon entering a room, in lieu of actually having anything to say, you commented on the weather, or the traffic, or you asked if anyone knew the score of whatever game might currently be in progress. Twenty-five years later, asking the score in front of a working television set implies a Rooney-esque level of ignorance, because the score is right there in front of you, at all times. And for this, as with so many other innovations that have rendered us less inquisitive, we have Rupert Murdoch to thank.

Read the rest here.