Extreme Games tap new 'sports'


The natural inclination is to dismiss ESPN's "Extreme Games," a collection of activities like sky surfing, bungee jumping and street luge, spread out across three New England states on two levels.

The hard-line sports fan will scoff at the Games -- a $10 million made-for-ESPN event that starts tomorrow and runs through next Saturday on ESPN and ESPN2 -- contending that they're not real sports, or at least not sports that we're accustomed to.

"Who made the rules and who said sports are only baseball, basketball and football?" said Suzy Kolber, who will co-anchor the 45 1/2 hours of live coverage with Chris Fowler.

OK, so these aren't your father's sports, especially when they're shown through such technical marvels as lipstick-sized cameras placed on the fingers of street lugers racing at speeds up to 65 mph.

But exactly who is interested in in-line skating, skateboarding and sport climbing, and why are we seeing them now?

"The timing is right. These sports have been growing in little pockets," said Rich Feinberg, coordinating producer. "I don't think we're saying this will replace mainstream sports, but we think the timing is right for them."

ESPN officials acknowledge that the Games should appeal to a youthful audience, but hope that the nature of ongoing competition and the newness of the events will make them compelling viewing for everyone.

"It's not as far-fetched an idea as people think," said Fowler. "People watch the Olympics every time and see sports they're not familiar with. If we can give them a story line and someone to root for, we'll do well."

The Games begin with a one-hour preview tomorrow at 4 p.m. on ESPN, repeated at 11 p.m. on the Deuce, with the first competition coming Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN.


Ever wanted to find out just what Mel Proctor and Jim Palmer were thinking during an Orioles broadcast on Home Team Sports?

Well, if you're an America Online subscriber, you'll be able to do just that during tomorrow night's telecast of the Orioles-Boston Red Sox game from Camden Yards.

Subscribers will be able to post questions starting 30 minutes before the 7 p.m. game. Proctor and Palmer will respond to selected questions between innings, and AOL members will get game updates and the chance to win prizes by answering trivia questions.

There is, however, no truth to the rumor that old pictures of Palmer in his skivvies can be downloaded.

Getting a basketball fix

All right, you'd have to have a serious hoops jones to find yourself parked in front of a television on the first Saturday afternoon of the summer to watch the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies select from the dregs of the NBA in the league's expansion draft, tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. (Channel 11). But, for some strange reason, NBC's Bob Costas will be there, so why shouldn't you?

Yeah, right. A far better basketball choice is Channel 2's production of highlights from last weekend's "Hoop-It-Up" competition at 3:30 p.m. We don't want to give too much away, but one of the principal selling points for watching the show is to see if a guy named "Sky Boo" can dunk over a car.

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