A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here. One exception: No products will be endorsed:
What: "SportsCentury: Oscar De La Hoya"
Where: ESPN, today, 4:30 p.m.
ESPN is putting the debut of this "SportsCentury" on the big network rather than ESPN Classic. Controversial Oscar De La Hoya still has that kind of drawing power.
Channel 9 sportscaster Alan Massengale, among those interviewed for the show, says, "There is no in-between with Oscar. Either you think he's 'the Golden Boy' or the devil."
Although De La Hoya was interviewed, and there is some boxing footage, ESPN, as it usually does with "SportsCentury" profiles, relies heavily on sportswriters to tell the story.
Tim Kawakami, former Times boxing writer who wrote a book about De La Hoya and is now with the San Jose Mercury News, appears throughout. Among other writers interviewed are former Times boxing writer Earl Gustkey, who covered De La Hoya's early days and now is retired, and current Times boxing writer Steve Springer.
"Oscar was the meal ticket," Gustkey says. "He was going to bring out that whole family, and the father saw to it that he did."
Kawakami says, "He doesn't burn to fight. What he burned to do was please his father."
Springer says, "He once told me he'd give up all his titles and medals if his father would say he was a great fighter."
This show, however, deals with more than De La Hoya's relationship with his father, Joel. There's also a lot about his mother Cecilia, who died of breast cancer in 1991, the year before Oscar won his Olympic gold medal. Other topics include De La Hoya's womanizing and his love for the spotlight.
"I've always thought that Oscar enjoyed being a celebrity more than he enjoyed being a fighter because celebrity brought him everything he loved--the women, the invitations to golf courses, the nightclubs," Kawakami says.
De La Hoya, who married last October, says, "I've had my ups and downs in my personal life, but I've finally set my priorities straight."
Broadcaster Jim Lampley says, "He's finally found a woman who truly loves him, something that has been missing in his life since his mother died."