It’s interesting to see how a change in perspective can change everything.
Yesterday was the NHL’s Winter Classic hockey game between Pittsburgh and Washington. Throughout the season, hockey has pretty much settled into a formula for success that’s adopted at every arena and television broadcasts are all pretty much the same with the same camera angles. Even the placement of microphones throughout the arena is pretty standard and it generally doesn’t matter where a game is played, for the viewer, it’s all broadcast the same and you get used to the experience no matter what.
The Winter Classic changes so many of the rules. As I watched the game yesterday, there were so many things different.
- It’s played outside. That’s the whole premise behind the concept but you’re subject to the weather. In fact, the game had to be moved from the afternoon to the evening in order to accommodate the weather. Even as such, the ice was soft and standing water was visible which really became moot when the rains came!
- It was played in a football stadium. Normally, the hockey formula is for an inside arena. As such the cameras are close to the ice, and the sounds of the game are noticeable because they can’t escape the enclosed arena. Here, the sounds just seemed to dissipate into the open.
- Camera angles were unique. Unlike the normal viewing in an arena, the cameras were at a considerable distance from the arena and you noticed it particularly when they drew back and you could see all the area that was between the ice surface and the stands.
- Speaking of angles, because there was no restriction of a roof, there was a camera angle that looked directly down on the ice that you’d never see in a regular hockey game. I’m sure that if you were easily dizzy that it might be a challenge, but I really enjoyed the view from there.
- The crowd was amazing. The traditional arena is meant for viewing. At Joe Louis Arena, for example, there are great seats everywhere to let the audience capture the game. You’re literally right on top of the ice. In a football stadium, I wonder if there are any good seats at all for viewing the game. But, that really didn’t seem to matter. The key was to just be there to experience things. There were close to 70 000 viewers compared to a regular game where 20 000 would be the norm.
- The temporary surface must have been a real nightmare to set up and maintain, not withstanding the warm weather. The portable glass needed repair early in the game but nobody seemed to mind.
- Even the ceremonial puck drop was unique. Of course, in Pittsburgh, you would have to have Mario Lemieux there. In the spirit of patriotism, the US Army was represented by Sergeant Bradley Tinstman and because of the location, Jerome Bettis and Franco Harris. I couldn’t help but shudder when I thought of what damage that Harris could have inflicted with body checking had he chosen hockey instead of football as a profession.
- But, you knew that it was special before the game even started. Pittsburgh and Washington are very competitive rivals and in a traditional arena, the dressing rooms are well separated. Yesterday, the teams entered the stadium side by side in a long walk across the field. It was very impressive.
Despite the weather, the game was a spectacle not to be missed. Hockey fans all over make sure that they tune in and watch.
What’s interesting is that the success lies in the opportunity to change the rules of the broadcasting and viewing game. It was unique and it makes for a totally different experience. It’s a reminder that often the best things come when you change the rules and change your perspective. I think of writing software and how often I used to hit the way with traditional thinking. Sometimes, it pays to step away from the way that things have always been done and attack from a different angle.
I know that changing perspective works for me at times and certainly the NHL has proven that it can be a formula for success. Can the same concept work for you?