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Gary Player Gives His Views on Apartheid

April 24, 1987|LARRY STEWART

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.

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