The subject of racism has been prominent on the nation’s sports pages the last couple of weeks.
So it’s rather timely that golfer Gary Player, a native of South Africa, touches on the subject of apartheid during a “Greatest Sports Legends” show to be televised on Channel 7 Saturday at 2 p.m.
In an interview taped last November at La Costa, Dave Winfield of the New York Yankees, the show’s new host, asked Player about the politics of South Africa.
“In South Africa, we have a terrible system in apartheid,” Player said. “I think it’s terrible. It’s almost a cancerous disease. I’m happy to say it is being eliminated.
“People have a terrible impression of South Africa. Yes, the system is terrible, but not the people. We have great people in South Africa--black, white, Indian and Chinese. We have an assortment of people, wonderful people.
“But we’ve got to get rid of this apartheid. The businessmen are working very hard. I am, as an individual, and so are many other sportsmen. We have a lot of pressure being put on our country to change it.
“But I don’t know if America is going about it the right way. After all, America had a very severe apartheid. You took Indians and put them on reservations. You haven’t been the greatest example, and when I see these people saying, ‘Apply sanctions,’ to me that’s the wrong answer.
“To me, we have to have more money injected in South Africa. That’s the quickest way to get rid of apartheid. If people would invest to a great degree there, it would create jobs for black people. They will then get their political rights and have their power, which they so richly deserve, and we can build a great country.”
Winfield said: “Gary, I appreciate your openness, frankness and sincerity in talking about these issues. I know what you’ve done for the indigenous people of South Africa. I’d be willing to travel with you anywhere in the world and talk to people and show ‘em that we can all work together.”
Player said: “Blacks talk about their brothers, and whites talk about their brothers, but we’re all brothers, my man. If we can be together, we’ll build a great future for this world.”
Add Legends: The nationally syndicated show has been on the air for 14 years, and Winfield is the show’s eighth host. He replaced Steve Garvey.
Berl Rotfeld, the show’s executive producer, plans to use Michael Jordan for next year’s series.
Ten new shows are taped and televised each year, then are repeated over a 42-week period.
Red-hot: In the up-and-down world of sports broadcasting, Roy Firestone is currently up.
He has been hired by ESPN as the cable network’s regular pro football commentator; he has just started doing a national radio sports show; he is currently in the Orient working on a syndicated show; his “Sports Look” on ESPN, now in its seventh year, continues to draw raves, and Channel 9’s Laker pregame show, which Firestone conducts, has been nominated for six local Emmys.
“Things have been going pretty well,” he said before departing for Japan to begin taping segments of the Steve Rotfeld-produced “Wacky World of Sports International Extravaganza.”
Firestone, who excels as an interviewer on the Bob Seizer-produced “Sports Look” show, is also a comic known for his impersonations.
About his role with ESPN, Firestone said: “They want me to be a Howard Cosell type but not as jarring as Howard. I won’t be giving any clinics on the 3-4 defense, but I’ll be playing it fairly straight. Sure, there will be some humor, but it won’t be the lounge show at the Tropicana.”
Firestone will work with different guest commentators--Mercury Morris and Larry Csonka are two names that have been mentioned--and ESPN’s Mike Patrick will handle the play by play.
On April 5, Firestone became host of “Sunday Night Major League Baseball,” a one-hour sports talk/interview show that is carried by about 140 radio stations nationwide but not by any in Los Angeles.
Add Firestone: “Of all the things I’ve done, there’s nothing I’m more proud of than the Laker pregame shows we’ve done this season,” the former Channel 2 sportscaster said.
The show got its six 1986 Emmy nominations despite being on the air for only seven weeks at the end of the year.
In past seasons, the Laker pregame shows were generally just your basic interviews-only pregame show. Now, with Firestone and writer-producer Ted Green, a former Times sportswriter, it has become a slick, network-quality show with in-depth, well-written features.
Channel 9’s next Laker pregame show, spotlighting Coach Pat Riley, will be shown before Wednesday night’s playoff game at Denver.
TV-Radio Notes CBS will televise Game 2 of the Lakers’ best-of-five NBA playoff series with Denver Saturday at 12:30 p.m., with Verne Lundquist and Hubie Brown reporting. Sunday, it will be Boston-Chicago at 10 a.m., with Dick Stockton and Tommy Heinsohn, followed at 12:30 p.m. by Philadelphia-Milwaukee, with Brent Musburger and Billy Cunningham. . . . During a phone interview this week, Heinsohn said this about the Lakers: “Last year, they were predictable. They’d go with the fast break, but if that wasn’t working, they’d change gears and rely on Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar). This year, they are more versatile. They may go to James Worthy in the low post or Magic (Johnson), who has become another weapon in there. Or they may turn (Byron) Scott loose. We did a Laker game in Philadelphia recently, and they, the Lakers, outfoxed me every time. I couldn’t figure them out. To me, this is the best, most versatile Laker team ever.”
The resignation by Tom Van Amburg as Channel 2’s general manager this week has apparently ended the possibility of Jim Healy going to work part-time for the station. Healy and program director Jay Strong were scheduled to have lunch Thursday to discuss different possibilities and formats, but that lunch was called off Wednesday after Van Amburg announced his resignation. “In a way, it’s a relief for me,” Healy said. “Doing my show (on KMPC radio) takes 7-7 1/2 hours. I just didn’t see where I would have time to do justice to both jobs.” . . . Last Saturday’s New York Islanders-Washington Capitals four-overtime playoff game, which took 6 hours 18 minutes to complete, was indeed tiring for the players, but also quite an ordeal for ESPN announcers Mike Emrick and Bill Clement. Said Clement: “Our voices got pretty raspy, but neither of us came close to losing our voices. There was no doubt that a lot of strain was put on our vocal cords.”
Recommended viewing: In a two-part series, the “Mutual of Omaha’s Spirit of Adventure” on ABC chronicles the first-ever rafting expedition of the upper Yangtze River in China, the third longest river in the world. The first part will be televised Sunday at 4 p.m. on Channel 7, with the second part set for the following Sunday. The show offers some incredible footage as well as a dramatic, real-life story. . . . The Kentucky Derby will be previewed in a half-hour special, “Road to the Triple Crown, on Channel 7 Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Mike Adamle is the host. . . . Aerobics, a form of exercising, is a competitive sport. In fact, the Crystal Light National Aerobics Championship has been held for the past three years, and the latest competition was taped for syndication on national television. Channel 5 will air the show Sunday at 5 p.m. Howard Schwartz, the creator of competitive aerobics, is the producer of the show, which will have Alan Thicke as host and include guest appearances by Raquel Welch and actress/aerobics instructor Teri Austin.
For the eighth consecutive year, ESPN will present live coverage of the NFL draft. Tuesday’s coverage begins at 5 a.m. PDT. . . . KABC Radio’s Bud Furillo will be the M.C. of a dinner at the Casa Italia banquet hall adjacent to St. Peter’s Church in Chinatown next Wednesday night, when UNICO presents boxer Boom Boom Mancini with its annual Brian Piccolo Award. . . . Channel 2’s Jim Hill has been named honorary chairman for the L.A. Games to be held during the final two weekends in June. The event was formerly called the L.A. Watts Summer Games.