On this Thanksgiving weekend, sports viewers have much to be thankful for:
--A college football lineup that includes No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 USC Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on ABC.
--A Sunday pro football lineup that, for once, involves four games. The Rams are at Denver Sunday and the Raiders at Seattle Monday night, so CBS will have a doubleheader in Los Angeles.
--Possibly the NFL game of the year, Buffalo vs. Cincinnati, on NBC Sunday at 10 a.m. And if that one goes sour, CBS has Phoenix-Philadelphia at the same time.
--A good ESPN Sunday night matchup, the New York Giants facing the hot New Orleans Saints.
--The Lakers and Detroit Pistons on CBS Saturday at 5:30 p.m., the first regular-season NBA night game on network television since 1972, when ABC showed the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks lose to the New York Knicks in a 101-99 thriller.
--For golf fans, the Skins Game on NBC Saturday and Sunday.
--For tennis fans, a Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert exhibition match at the Forum on Prime Ticket Sunday at 6 p.m.
--For college basketball fans, the Big Apple NIT final tonight on ESPN, plus the Great Alaska Shootout and the Maui tournament through the weekend on ESPN.
OK, we’ve said our thanks. Now for a complaint.
It’s about the self-promoting that networks do. This is nothing new, but it seems to have reached new heights.
If you were watching Penn State-Notre Dame on CBS last Saturday, you were hardly aware that USC and UCLA would play later in the day. CBS did a lot of promotion for the Oklahoma-Nebraska game, which it televised, while ignoring USC-UCLA, which ABC televised.
In promoting Oklahoma-Nebraska, CBS also deceived viewers. They showed the Big Eight records for the two schools--both were 6-0 at the time--to imply that these were two unbeaten teams. But both had a nonconference loss--Oklahoma to USC and Nebraska to UCLA.
Meanwhile, ABC didn’t mention the upcoming Nebraksa-Oklahoma game, but had a number of live reports from the Rose Bowl, site of USC-UCLA.
During halftime of Monday night’s Washington-San Francisco game on ABC, Lynn Swann interviewed USC receiver Erik Affholter and Notre Dame linebacker Mike Stonebreaker, who, of course, will play on ABC on Saturday. By the way, what ever happened to the Monday night tradition of showing highlights of Sunday’s games at halftime? They’re missed.
During halftime of Saturday’s Arkansas-Miami (Fla.) game on CBS, there will, appropriately, be a Barry Sanders feature, but also Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas will be interviewed. Why? Because of the Laker-Piston telecast on CBS that night.
NBC, for its part, is pushing No. 3 Miami. On its “NFL Live” Sunday, Bob Costas said: “On a neutral field, Miami’s gotta be the best college football team in the nation.”
Said Ahmad Rashad: “They may be the best team in Miami, pro or college.”
Why the love affair with once-beaten Miami? Because the Hurricanes will play in the Orange Bowl on NBC.
NBC, meanwhile, is ignoring USC. That’s because the Trojans will play in the Rose Bowl, which it dropped and ABC picked up.
The networks, as news gathering organizations, are supposed to practice objective journalism. But such shameless self-promoting destroys all credibility.
Once in a while, the networks will do an interview or feature with no ulterior motive. CBS will have one of these during halftime of today’s Auburn-Alabama telecast.
It’s one on a kicker from, of all places, New Mexico State. He is Dat Ly, a Vietnam refugee who escaped on April 29, 1975, on one of the last two planes leaving the country. The other plane was shot down, which Ly saw.
Steve Scheer, an associate director for CBS, read a newspaper article on Ly and suggested a feature, which Scheer ended up producing.
Stories such as these are what the networks should be looking for.
Another complaint has to do with those college football sideline reporters ABC and CBS use.
People such as Mike Adamle, John Dockery and Leslie Visser may be fine reporters, but as sideline observers they serve no purpose. Their interviews are almost always trivial, and they are intrusive.
Any important information, such as the status of an injured player, could just as easily be relayed to the broadcast booth by a production assistant, and then the announcers could pass along that information at an appropriate time.
It would make for smoother telecasts.
Vic the Slick: Channel 13 sportscaster Vic (the Brick) Jacobs on why he has shucked his spiked hair, bolo ties and tuxedo jackets and gone to a more conventional look:
“It’s something I thought about doing for quite a while. I think the (old) look was sometimes getting in the way of what I had to say, and the message was coming through muddled. Where I may have been alienating some people before, I won’t be now. But everything else is the same.”
Jacobs said viewer response to the new look has been generally positive.
So Los Angeles is a media hotbed? Not according to an NFL list of coaches and players who have radio and TV shows. Every coach in the league has a TV show except the Raiders’ Mike Shanahan. Six Redskin players, including center Jeff Bostic and tackle Mark May, are involved in radio or television shows, as are general manager Bobby Beathard and assistant general manager Bobby Mitchell. Around the league, 100 coaches, players and club officials are involved with 128 different radio and television shows. But no Ram or Raider players have any kind of show.
Speaking of shows, King announcer Bob Miller, taking advantage of the growing popularity of hockey in Los Angeles, now has one. The half-hour interview show, called “Face Off With Bob Miller,” makes its debut on Prime Ticket next Tuesday night, following a telecast of the Kings’ game with the New Jersey Devils. “I like the 30-minute format, rather than the 3-minute, between-period interview,” Miller said. Appearing on the first show will be right winger Dave Taylor.
Add hockey: The NHL’s national television package is available only in certain areas, and still not in Los Angeles. Tom Chestnut, senior vice president of SportsChannel, the producer of the package who was in Los Angeles for a recent pay-per-view seminar, said negotiations are continuing with both Prime Ticket and Z Channel. “If we can’t make a deal, we’ll then go to individual cable companies,” Chestnut said.
Z Channel, which had been televising fights from the Country Club in Reseda, won’t show next Tuesday night’s heavyweight bout between Alex Garcia and Dee Collier. Instead, Z Channel that night will show a heavyweight bout, Grover Robinson vs. Milford Kemp, from the Richmond Memorial Auditorium in the Bay Area. . . . CBS football commentator Dan Fouts has the weekend off because of Dan Fouts Day in San Diego Sunday.
New show: “One on One With Jim Lampley,” a GGP-produced series of four one-hour interview shows, makes its debut on Channel 2 Saturday night at about 9 p.m. Lampley’s guests on the first show will be Pat Riley, Carl Lewis and Wayne Gretzky. Mike Tyson was scheduled to appear, but dropped out. . . . At about 8 p.m. Saturday, following the Laker-Piston telecast, Channel 2 gets a jump on everyone with a 1-hour year-end special, “1988: Year of the Champions.” The host is Keith Olbermann. . . . Tonight at 7:30 on Channel 2, Olbermann takes an in-depth look at the Lakers in a half-hour show called, “Lakers: Lord of the Rings.”
Looking for Christmas gift ideas? Here’s one. USC is offering “Crosstown: The USC-UCLA Rivalry,” a video tracing the history of the intracity battle from its inception in 1929 through the Trojans’ 17-13 victory last year. It is volume 3 in the Trojan Video Gold Collector Series. It’s nicely done and is being sold for $39.95, plus handling. For further information, call: (213) SC-VIDEO.
As the first in a 52-week series of shows featuring Olympic sports on the Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), United States and South Korean boxers will meet on Jan. 7. However, that does not necessarily mean there will be a rematch between Roy Jones and Park Si Hun. Jones, from Pensacola, Fla., was given a silver medal in the 156-pound division when Park was awarded a controversial decision in the finals at the Seoul Olympics. “It will be a tough thing to get them back together again,” said Col. Don Hull, president of the USA Amateur Boxing Federation.
The Koreans want Park to box, but he may not want to face Jones. “Everyone feels that he would lose rather quickly,” Hull said. Also, it might be difficult for U.S. officials to persuade Jones to participate. Even though he has yet to sign a professional contract, he reportedly has several offers and might not want to postpone his career. “It might take a pot full of money for us to get him,” Hull said.
Gary Thorne, popular New York Mets announcer, is said to be another candidate to replace Padre announcer Dave Campbell, who was let go. Thorne has been told by the Mets that he can’t do both the Mets for station WFAN and hockey’s Devils for cable TV. He’s still working Devil games, so he may be out with the Mets.