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Chris Dufresne

Sports Fans Can Line Up to Dial 976


I honestly don't know what the world would do without 976 telephone services. I've met some of my closest friends through these party hearty party lines, though I think we'd all agree it's probably best that we're not actually allowed to reach out and touch someone.

Come to think of it, I'd probably still be asleep today if not for 976-WAKE, the 24-hour-a-day, anywhere-in-the-world wake-up service. The beauty of it, as the commercial says, is that it's only $2 a call. If you're like me and use the service only on weekdays, that amounts to only $5,200 per year. Can't you just kick yourself for using an alarm clock all these years?

Anyway, these 976 numbers are bigger than all of us. Need a friend? Call 976. Need a laugh? Call 976. Need a baby-sitter? That's right, 976.

About the only market that hasn't been beaten unmercifully into the ground is sports. And that, my friends, is where I come in. For a limited time only, you can get in on the ground floor of what could be the biggest 976 service known to civilized man. Please Don't Send Cash! No, this service is still in the formative stages. Our lawyers haven't even done lunch with their lawyers yet. What we need are your ideas.

And, with a little luck in the form of, say, a hostile corporate takeover, you might soon receive the following services in your hometown:

976-BUST--This service would offer callers financial advice from some of the world's top professional athletes. Party line regulars would include running back Eric Dickerson of the Rams, center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Lakers and right fielder Tony Gywnn of the San Diego Padres. Find out how they picked their agents, made investments and filed lawsuits. No, you won't want to make a monetary move before consulting with our regulars. Dickerson could discuss the do's and don'ts of handing over power of attorney to a non-attorney and the wisdom of making business decisions on the beaches of the Bahamas. Abdul-Jabbar will let you in on the secret of serving court papers on an actual basketball court. Gywnn might read a chapter from Chapter 11. Ask the stars how they went from being millionaires to moneyless. Listen in as mutual friends discuss mutual bonds.

976-THUG--Call this line and talk to your favorite sucker-punchers about their most memorable low bridges and clothesline jobs. Standing by to take your calls would be Boston's Robert Parish, Detroit's Bill Laimbeer and Seattle's Maurice Lucas. Callers would become honorary members of Ghoul School, a fan club that would pitch in and pay any fine imposed on their favorite NBA star. Learn over the phone how to throw a body block, counterpunch and sneak blows under your opponent's belt, all the while keeping the referee occupied with the more aesthetic qualities of the game.

976-FIRE--Phone in to discuss with Angel relief pitchers some of Sir Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion. Reliever DeWayne Buice, who toiled nearly a decade in the minor leagues doing research, tackles the difficult "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" theory, and relates how it applies to his fastball and the bat of a major league opponent.

976-RIBS--Notable sports agents gather in forum to take your calls pertaining to the subtle techniques of lending collegiate football players money in school in exchange for their services after college. Agents also discuss early withdrawal penalties for a player, with an emphasis on bruised ribs, brass knuckles, capless knees and missing relatives.

976-HIRE--This service would provide callers a chance to speak with a panel of their favorite black baseball managers and front-office executives. Please hold.

976-SCUF--Call this number to discuss woodworking and baseball with big league pitchers Don Sutton, Mike Scott and Rick Rhoden. Sutton is available to discuss his career as well as such off-season hobbies as sandpaper sculpturing. Scott offers 25 ways to use a carpet cutter around the house. Rhoden offers his expertise in operating a drill press.

976-RAMS--Former Ram quarterbacks Dieter Brock, Steve Bartkowski and Jeff Kemp take your calls and reminisce about the glory of playing for one of the league's unique pass offenses. Bartkowski describes the techniques of handing off on third and 20. Kemp recalls the thrills of warming up on the sideline. Brock refuses to take calls from Chicago.

976-TALK--Enjoy the thrill of having some of the nation's top unsociable athletes hang up on you. Panel would include Steve Carlton, George Hendrick, Mike Witt, Barry Redden and John Denny.

976-PUCK--An open line forum answering your questions about professional ice hockey in Los Angeles. Questions could include: Why is there ice hockey in Los Angeles? Would you know a member of the Kings if he cross-checked you in the supermarket? What effect has the ice under the Forum floor had on Magic Johnson's knees?

976-NARC--In this service, some of today's top athletes answer the needs of troubled parents by recommending the drug rehabilitation centers of their preference. A seasoned, experienced panel of repeat offenders from all major sports would be on call to discuss the ins and outs of rehab facilities. For instance, which offers the best food?

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