If you've walked into a local sports bar in the past few years, chances are you've noticed the general upgrade that's taken place in one of America's signature institutions. Flatscreen television sets blanket the walls, all showing live sporting events in a pristine picture quality. Do you remember the classic "tank" model televisions that used to be in every household? Back then, you weren't able to see the mist creeping from the sky in a late-April baseball game, or the chalk drifting into the air from Lebron James' hands as he performs his pre-game ritual. These days you can. You are witnessing the high definition revolution.
Whatever your game is -- baseball, football, basketball, hockey (or, all of the above) -- you probably have already become hooked on HD technology, and with good reason. It's quite simply the most overwhelming change to occur in television technology since the advent of color TV. Television viewers were treated to the great shift from black-and-white to color in the 1950s, but due to flaws in the system and the high price color brought with it, the widespread use of color technology took a couple of decades to catch on.
You can say the same thing about HD technology. Once a luxury item for the privileged few, the flatscreen TV's have taken years to reach the price point where the general public can afford them. These days, it's not uncommon to find households with several large screens lining the walls. The technology has definitely found its way to the masses.
In the sporting world, watching the game in high definition just can't be beat. When it comes to baseball, you might marvel as the bat strikes the ball and you can actually see the dust -- transferred from a resin bag on the mound to a pitcher's hand to the ball -- form a tiny cloud upon impact. The slow motion technology doesn't hurt, but even the live-action close-ups of a pitcher's intense face, or the lines on a stressed-out manager's face, give you an angle that was previously unthinkable.
As for football, the action has also been taken to another level. Previously, the standard for top-notch filmmaking was the stirring NFL Films, narrated by the late Harry Kalas. The NFL Films technique is to bring stunning, cinematic camera-work and editing to the job of telling stories of great games and players of the past, with an overall operatic effect. It's like a marriage between ESPN and Wagner. Now, on any given Sunday, a viewer can get that larger-than-life effect without fail. Watch the baited breath of a hungry linebacker as Tom Brady prepares to take the snap. See Larry Fitzgerald make the impossible catch as it seems like he's falling into your living room (or bar stool).