The biennial Ryder Cup matches, which occupy 25 hours of air time this weekend between NBC and USA, symbolize what is best about golf, according to those who spend their time around the game.
"This is the only event in golf that you can compare to the Olympics," said USA analyst Peter Kostis. "It's the best players from America playing for the pride of their country. This is pure golf. The players don't get any money and they're not allowed to wear any product logos. It's a hugely different environment."
For NBC's Dick Enberg, who will anchor that network's coverage, the spirit of the Ryder Cup is nothing new.
Enberg has triumphed over a mountain of doubts, whispered and shouted from the golf community, in part because of the cooperation and acceptance he has received from the players.
"It was like someone gave me the keys to paradise and you open up the gates," Enberg said recently. "Here are a group of athletes in a sport that really do indeed revere and love and respect their game. It's something we've lost in all the other sports.
"I mean, here I am in San Diego and I'm standing at the practice tee and these fellows are coming up to me and saying, 'Hello, Dick. Great to have you aboard. How can I help you?' Wait a minute. You're supposed to knock me over on the way to the bank."
The matches, held this year at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., pit a team of 12 European golfers against a dozen from the United States. The European team includes Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie; the U.S. team features U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin and Masters winner Ben Crenshaw. They will meet in four-player "best ball," singles and match-play competitions.
USA launches a 10-hour day of coverage today at 8 a.m., with a wrap-up show at 11 p.m. each night this weekend. NBC (Channel 11) will have 4 1/2 hours tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., with 2 1/2 hours at 4 p.m., and 6 1/2 more hours Sunday at 9 a.m.
The football scene
There's no Maryland on the tube this weekend, and, once again, you'll have to turn to WITH (1230 AM) for live radio coverage of the Terps-Duke game tomorrow at 7 p.m., though WBAL (1090 AM) will have a taped replay after the Orioles-Milwaukee game.
Clemson-Virginia (Channel 13, noon) is the best of a meager menu of college games tomorrow, made all the more paltry by ABC's decision to send Ohio State vs. Pittsburgh (Channel 2, 3:30 p.m.), rather than Texas A&M; vs. Colorado.
All right, so we've come to understand that television rules the roost in sports, but we figured that if anyone could tell a network where to get off, Notre Dame could.
But we were sadly mistaken, since the Golden Domers moved the start time of tomorrow's game with Texas (Channel 11, 12:30 p.m.) up to a morning kickoff in South Bend to accommodate NBC. Doesn't anybody care about the ticket-buying fan anymore?
"NFL GameDay" (11:45 a.m., ESPN) loses 20 of its usual 75 minutes this week because of a NASCAR race, but those 55 minutes will be packed. There's a Mark Malone interview with former Pittsburgh and Carolina running back Barry Foster and a Tom Jackson feature on the latest John Elway end-of-game heroics, achieved last week against the Redskins.
Not enough Cal (Ripken) in your diet recently?
If televised Orioles games tonight (Channel 11, 8 p.m.) and tomorrow (Channel 54, 8 p.m.) aren't enough, Home Team Sports spins the wayback machine to the festivities of two weeks ago, with a repeat of its "Hats Off to Cal" special tomorrow at 4 p.m., and a 2 1/2 -hour retrospective of the two nights when Ripken made history, called "2131: Rip in Review" Sunday at 8 p.m. and hosted by Mel Proctor. It will be repeated Monday at 8 p.m. and Wednesday at 1 p.m.