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CBS is smart to march in a few events amid opening ceremonies

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The TV Repairman:

It's probably a good move, CBS starting its Winter Olympics coverage tomorrow night (8-11) with hockey and skiing action accompanying the opening ceremonies. The pomp and circumstance of teams parading into a stadium is OK for a while, but becomes tiresome quickly.

The Sunday morning fare, beginning at 9, includes the start of the hockey competition, gold-medal favorite Sweden taking on Slovakia, some speed skating, figure skating (pairs) and the women's 15K cross country skiing.

The U.S. hockey team takes on France during the afternoon segment (2:30 p.m.), then the event Europeans feel is the centerpiece of the Games, the men's downhill, grabs top billing in prime time (8-11 p.m.).

* TNT will have the rookie game (replacing the Legends contest) and the three-point and slam-dunk competitions tomorrow (7 p.m.) as NBA All-Star Weekend commences in Minneapolis.

Regular cable pro hoops analyst Doug Collins will coach one of the rookie teams, K. C. Jones working the other, and he'll be miked.

For the 6 p.m. game Sunday (hey, it's nice gathering up these big prime-time ratings), NBC is bringing in Magic Johnson to join its regular courtside voices. You have to love Collins' description of a typical NBA All-Star Game: "It's free flow until the last seven minutes or so, the guys putting on a great show. Then, they want to win for the team and the conference they represent, and they start playing like it's a regular-season game."

* Somebody should remind Johnny Miller and Gary McCord that reporters and commentators are supposed to cover the story, not become it. Miller (NBC) won the Pebble Beach last weekend and McCord (CBS) was the first-round leader in back-to-back Arizona PGA Tour stops.

Speaking of the tour, where does PGA commissioner Deane Beman get off calling comedian Bill Murray's hi-jinks at Pebble Beach "detrimental to golf?" Is there a rule written somewhere that says if a little fun is injected into the stuffy proceedings of a tournament, the roof of the Royal & Ancient will blow off?

* With a combined rating that would have won the week, figure skating shows presented by CBS and ABC will no doubt see the nets visiting the sport for more and more weekend prime-time programming in the winter. The total rating of the two exceeded a 26 rating, which dwarfs "Monday Night Football," the baseball playoffs and everything but the Super Bowl, World Series and Final Four.

The featured performers on the "Stars on Ice" show on Channel 4 tomorrow (3 p.m.) and Channel 2, get this, Monday (1:45 a.m.) are Kristi Yamaguchi, Paul Wylie and Scott Hamilton. That should hold you until the Brian Boitano-Viktor Petrenko-Kurt Browning showdown at the Olympics next week.

* Considering the time slot Channel 2 has given it, 5 a.m. Sunday, the NBA All-Star "Stay in School Celebration" should be renamed "Stay in Bed."

* An injured hand prevented Larry Holmes from "Tuesday Night Fights." But, fear not, we're not rid of him yet. The ex-champ will get it on against Garing Lane March 8.

Another of your old favorites, Roberto Duran, will be along at the end of March.

* The sports talk station in Washington, WTEM, asked listeners to respond to the question: Should the NFL do away with the Pro Bowl? Surprisingly, a ton of folks responded and voted 2-to-1 to kill it. Why, it's not hurting anybody.

* Just how far will soccer be set back in this country with the Walt Disney Co. out as producer of the opening ceremony of the World Cup? Michael Jackson, call FIFA if you're still on the planet.

* Michael Jordan has indicated he might consider playing minor-league ball if his attempt to jump cross-town from the Bulls to the White Sox fails. Asked on the "Boog and the Birds" show Sunday noon on Channel 13 how long he would last in the minors, guest Ken Singleton quipped, "A week . . . at most." Incidentally, if baseball isn't Michael's calling, word is he's going to take a shot at making the Blackhawks.

* The six-hour "Power Plays" series that ran on Maryland PubliTelevision three nights this week hit several aspects of big-time sports right between the eyes. Hopefully, it will run again with a little more advance publicity the next time.

* Best of college hoops the next couple of days isMaryland-Florida State tomorrow (Channel 2 at 2 p.m.), Georgia Tech at North Carolina (Channel 13 at 3:30), Kentucky at Syracuse (Channel 11 at 4) and, Sunday, Temple at UMass (Channel 13, 3:45 p.m.).

* Peter Gammons, known mainly for his baseball commentary on ESPN, has been named Sportswriter of the Year by his peers at the National Sportscasters and Sportwriters Association. The voters must figure Pete's reading his Boston Globe column when he's before the camera. Chris Berman won the sportscaster honor for the third time in five years.

* One of the great moments in sports television history occurred after the boxing decision was rendered in the recent Frankie Randall upset of Julio Cesar Chavez. "This is the way it should be," shouted promoter Don King as people in the Chavez camps screamed and complained about the split decision. Right, Don.

Once again, an excellent fight was somewhat ruined if viewers made the mistake of listening to the bleatings of commentators Ferdie Pacheco and Bobby Czyz too closely. Neither can ever see Chavez being challenged even when he's getting the tar kicked out of him.

* Disturbing thought as we prepare to spend numerous hours in front of the telly watching CBS and TNT coverage of the Winter Olympics from Lillehammer: The network paid nearly $300 million in rights fees, which comes out to $2.5 million per hour, which translates into a truckload of commercials.

* With "Baseball Tonight" on every night come April, one wonders what ESPN's "SportsCenter," expanded to an hour every night, is going to cover, Australian Rules Football?

* Dick Vitale gets so caught up in his tributes to all his buddies, the coaches, during college hoops, he almost forgets there is a game going on.

* The money's probably not worth mentioning, but the exposure figures to be a big boost if and when Canadian League Football comes to Baltimore in the fall. ESPN2 is going to be doing 18 regular-season games from July to November, on Saturday afternoons in the summer and Friday nights when college football starts, then ESPN moves in for the Grey Cup.

* Joe Garagiola is all pumped up about doing the Westminster Dog Show on USA Network next week, explaining that yes, he has a dog and he loves animals. . . . Just a couple of more weeks until the Espy Video Awards show on ESPN. Can you feel the tension building? . . . CBS is reporting it has sold $440 million worth of advertising for the Olympics, so its claim of making a few bucks looks solid.

* Fox Network is making Matt Millen its next priority in its football department? Come on! That's nearly as bad as Craig James (ESPN) starting a broadcasting school for NFL players.

* Why do ex-players breaking into commentary on college hoops, in this case Walter Davis (ex-North Carolina and NBA Suns), assume the audience knows no more about the game than a person in the second grade? Embarrassing.

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