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What Would Settle It All Would Be If Fans Went on Strike

October 02, 1987|Larry Stewart

After Thursday's earthquake, being deprived of watching legitimate pro football on television this weekend doesn't seem nearly as significant as it did a few days ago.

Still, there are reasons to be disturbed--no games last weekend, phony games this weekend.

This is no way to treat fans, and it all seems so absurd--spoiled, greedy players striking against self-indulging, greedy owners.

There is a way to strike back.

Of course, it will never happen, but what if fans in large numbers boycotted National Football League telecasts--pseudo games and real ones--for the rest of the season?

The players and owners might then get the message: Above all else, you need fan support.

Because so many people watch NFL games, sponsors are willing to pay huge amounts, enough so that the networks, the NFL owners and the players all get rich.

But the players' union says their members are not getting rich fast enough, that they're not getting their fair share of a very big pie.

So the union fights for, among other things, the right of players to sell their services to the highest bidder, and make even more money.

Because players can't pick where they want to work, some people, including Los Angeles sportscasters Fred Roggin and Jim Lampley, have compared NFL players to slaves, which is ludicrous.

Slaves were oppressed, hard-worked, unpaid people with nowhere to turn. They were bought and sold and had absolutely no control over their lives or futures. Professional football players are highly paid individuals who are free to walk away anytime and join the real world of 9-to-5 jobs.

These self-centered players expect their fans to be loyal and watch them, in person and on television. But by choosing to go on strike, they haven't returned the loyalty.

There was some good news this week, the Dodgers hiring Don Drysdale to replace the retiring Jerry Doggett.

It shows that the Dodgers still care about quality, at least in the broadcast booth. They went out and hired an experienced, name announcer.

Contrast that to what the Angels and their flagship radio station, KMPC, did last off-season. They hired Ken Brett, who had very little play-by-play experience.

So KMPC had to provide on-air training and then ask Brett to do play-by-play before he was ready.

Drysdale had his troubles, too, when he started but eventually became a quality broadcaster.

Maybe Brett will also be one some day, but the Angels had to push him too quickly.

With pro football in disarray, it's good that baseball's postseason is just around the corner. The playoffs will be televised by NBC and the World Series by ABC.

The National League playoffs, with Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola reporting, will begin Tuesday night. The American League playoffs, with Bob Costas and Tony Kubek, will start the following day.

The World Series will open on Oct. 17.

The CBS radio announcers working the playoffs will be Dick Stockton and Johnny Bench on the National League and Brent Musburger and Ernie Harwell on the American.

TV-Radio Notes Tim Brant and Hank Stram will work the Rams' non-union game at New Orleans Sunday. It will be on Channel 2 at 10 a.m. The NBC game at 1 p.m. is Miami at Seattle, with Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen. . . . NBC's Charlie Jones, who will work Sunday's blacked-out Raider game, has a suggestion for bringing a quick strike settlement. 'The owners are losing money and the players aren't being paid," he said. "How about not paying the negotiators (Jack Donlan and Gene Upshaw) until they reach a settlement? It might just speed things up." . . . Eric Dickerson will appear on MTV as a video jockey next week opposite "Monday Night Football." MTV will use several striking players as veejays on Sunday, including Brian Bosworth.

Attention, polo fans: The America's Cadillac Polo Championship, in which North America played Argentina at Greenwich, Conn., Sept. 20, will be televised Saturday at 3 p.m. by CBS. . . . Attention, horse racing fans: The first "Racing From Oak Tree" show of the season will be televised Monday night at 7:30, with Gil Stratton, Charleye Wright and Trevor Denman sharing the host's duties. The Oak Tree meeting will open at Santa Anita Wednesday. On race days, the show, which is televised by Channel 56 at 7:30 on weeknights and 8 on Saturday and Sunday nights, offers replays of all nine races. The race-day programs are also carried by Prime Ticket at 10:30 p.m. . . . KWIN, Santa Anita's radio station, which can be heard only at the track, will begin its third year on opening day. . . . The year 1951 will be the subject of today's "Magic Years in Sports" on ESPN at 4:30 p.m. Highlights include Bobby Thomson's homer, which beat the Dodgers and propelled the New York Giants into the World Series, and Norm Van Brocklin leading the Rams to their only NFL championship since coming to Los Angeles from Cleveland.

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