The Community Television


Publication:
Date: 
June 29, 2012
A street-facing television becomes a public amenity in baseball-loving Michigan.

There's a bar in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan, where, instead of a window, there's a huge flat screen television. And instead of pointing in toward the barstools and indoor patrons, the screen faces out onto the street toward the bar's sidewalk patio seating and, by default, everyone else who happens to be nearby.

It's created a kind of community television where, it seems, the only thing that's worth tuning into is Detroit Tigers baseball games. Despite the unshakable Big Brother-ness of this huge TV screen, it's actually a nice addition to the public realm on this corner, offering a central connector where bar patrons – and non-patrons outside the official patio space – can gather in public to jointly support their local team.

It calls to mind a story I'd heard from a Detroit native about being able to walk across an entire neighborhood a few decades ago and not miss one play of the Tigers game because there was someone sitting on the porch listening to it on the radio at almost every house along the way.

In this busy world, it's not often that a singular event is appealing enough to a large enough number of people to watch or experience it at once, together. Sports still has that power to some degree, though it's almost certainly no longer the case that every other house on the block is listening to or watching the game.

The huge TV on the street brings a little bit of that shared experience back. For some, it's a real public amenity.