Television, it seems, isn't just covering sports anymore; it's become a part of them. Examples:
--An ESPN cameraman with a live microphone tries to get a closeup of golfer Lori Garbacz after she has just taken a double-bogey. Garbacz can be heard saying: "Get the bleep out of my face." She is fined $3,500 by the LPGA, and apologizes. The cameraman escapes without so much as a reprimand.
--The home-plate umpire at the Little League World Series championship game wears a miniature camera on his mask, a camera that ABC had ballyhooed for weeks. The camera offers a nice close-up of home plate, but little else.
--Race driver Al Unser Jr., wearing a microphone for ESPN, is unable to communicate with his pit crew after his car's radio goes out. ESPN lets him use its equipment, and he finishes second.
--The NFL experiments with instant replays to help officials make decisions on ball-possession calls, such as: Was it a fumble? Did the receiver have possession?
Television, in some cases, has gone too far. A few suggestions:
--Don't allow cameramen with live mikes to bother golfers while they're playing. That's just asking for trouble.
--Don't have live mikes around coaches or players. It's an intrusion, and there is no way to edit out the expletives, as Terry Donahue learned during the 1978 Fiesta Bowl.
--Don't allow sportscasters to interview players on the sidelines during a game. Another intrusion, and the players rarely have anything meaningful to say, anyway.
--Don't ever aid a competitor, as ESPN apparently did with Unser. Putting a microphone on a race driver is OK, as long the mike is used only during yellow caution flags. "I don't even talk to my crew on the radio while I'm racing unless it is a dire emergency," driver Johnny Rutherford says.
--Don't rely too heavily on instant replays as a crutch for officials, but at least have them at the officials' disposal, which is about all the NFL has done so far with its experiments.
Luck of the draw: CBS is devoting 26 1/2 hours of live coverage to the U.S. Open tennis tournament, but the match everyone wants to see, Boris Becker against John McEnroe, probably will be played next Wednesday evening, when the USA cable network is covering. The only thing CBS has scheduled that day is one of its 30-minute highlight shows at 11:30 p.m.
Add U.S. Open: On the Saturday of the men's semifinals and women's final last year, CBS' coverage went from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., PDT.
First, there was the five-set semifinal between Ivan Lendl and Pat Cash that lasted 3 hours 39 minutes. Then the women's final between Chris Evert Lloyd and Martina Navratilova went the maximum three sets and lasted 1 hour 47 minutes. That pushed the start of the John McEnroe-Jimmy Connors match to 4:30 p.m. PDT. CBS was supposed to be off the air at 4 p.m., or 7 p.m. in the East.
McEnroe and Connors then went five sets, playing for 3 hours 14 minutes. That ended at 8:15 p.m. PDT--11:15 a.m. in the East. The entire prime-time schedule was wiped out. The Eastern stations could go to news, but the West Coast stations now had no programming to fall back on.
"We realized we had a problem on the West Coast because we couldn't run the prime-time programming one week and repeat it the next," executive producer Frank Chirkinian said.
CBS ended up throwing together a two-hour highlight show to fill the time on the West Coast. After a local station break, the highlight show was on until 11 p.m. PDT. The day ended for the CBS crew in New York at about 2:30 a.m. EDT.
Feud dept.: The Clippers' announcement last week that they had made a deal with radio station KMPC to carry their games didn't sit well with KGIL executives, who were under the impression that they had a deal with the basketball team.
Carl Scheer, the Clippers' general manager, had sent a letter to Dick McGeary, KGIL's general manager, that McGeary construed as an agreement. Scheer said the agreement with KGIL was not binding.
KGIL, however, may take legal action. Program director Mike Lundy, when asked about the situation, said: "I have been advised by our attorneys not to comment."
Cable channel update: Jerry Buss' all-sports cable channel is tentatively scheduled to go on the air Oct. 19 with an exhibition game between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics at the Forum. A regular-season hockey game between the Kings and the Edmonton Oilers is tentatively scheduled for the next night. The channel, now being called Prime Ticket Network, may make its debut earlier than Oct. 19 if Buss can line up a major fight.
Buss has made an offer to the Clippers to be a part of the channel. He has also made a deal with USC to show replays of Trojan football games this season during the week. It has not been determined which Laker, King and Lazer games will be shown on the cable channel.