Meet the most important man in sports TV, the man who invented the ‘honey shot’

We’ve seen it over and over in this World Cup and every other major sporting event, something big happens and the cameraman flashes to some hot chick in the crowd.

But how long has this been happening for? Who came up with it? And what’s it called? Well, the folks over at Slate just put together a long exposé on Andy Sidaris, long-time director at ABC and man who takes credit for the advent of the ‘Honey Shot.’

I remember that moment like it was yesterday, as I was still in Tallahassee at the time finishing up undergrad knew Jenn personally from the several classes we had together and overlapping friend circles. That moment caught on camera immediately shot her into fame, she later went on to become a sideline reporter and celeb of controversial fame. But what I wasn’t quite taking in at that moment was how it was the production director, not Musberger, who was responsible for thrusting her into the public eye.

Why these guys don’t get more credit for their contributions is obvious, only things in front of the camera are seen by the public, but re: Slate’s interview let’s take a look at the Andy Sidaris, the most important man in sports television:

“I was the best television director that ever lived.” Though he wasn’t the most modest television director that ever lived, Sidaris—who died of throat cancer in 2007—did have a long list of accomplishments. According to his Los Angeles Times obituary, he directed the first episode of ABC’s long-running Wide World of Sports, helmed the network’s Olympics coverage for 24 years, and “helped develop techniques that are standard today, including instant replay, slow-motion replay and split-screen views.”

He was also obsessed with pointing his cameras at beautiful women. In 1983, the New York Times’ Neil Amdur wrote the following in a piece critiquing college football telecasts: “Andy Sidaris is one of ABC’s better football directors. But at the Sugar Bowl, he seemed preoccupied with cheerleaders, in a game that contained dimensions of much more importance. Sideline shots of cheerleaders and majorettes are only worthwhile if they are spontaneous and fit into a larger picture; Sidaris made them boring and finally offensive.”

His legacy has been seen at every game in the 2014 World Cup:

In an interview, Sidaris told Los Angeles magazine, “Once you’ve seen one huddle you’ve seen them all. … So you either look at the popcorn, the guys, or the ladies. The choice is clear to me.” Sports Illustrated wrote in 1974 that Sidaris “holds strong views about the looks of the girls he has seen around the country.” Among those views, as told to the San Diego Union: The “girls [in Buffalo] looked like plant foremen,” those in Wisconsin “get their hairdo hints from Field & Stream,” and there’s a likely “shortage of hairbrushes at Stanford.” At Alabama, by contrast, “only your real football fan takes his eyes off the cheerleaders.” Also, a geography tip: The “normal cutoff line for beautiful California girls is Bakersfield.”

So where do we stand? Was Sidaris a visionary sports TV producer who raised the level of sports tv appeal to a level nobody could have previously comprehended? Or was he simply a pervy old man, a product of the sexual harassment generation who did what he pleased and objectified women simply because that’s what he enjoyed doing?

Head on over to read the full exposé on Slate before making your own decision, but me, I tend to lean towards the visionary end of his legacy’s spectrum.

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