Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Tuesday, April 2, 1996

NCAA title game should be shown live

THESE delayed telecasts of major sporting events can drive you to drink - literally.

Now, I don't mind the local TV stations delaying some games - even Monday Night Football. But not the Super Bowl (they wouldn't dare anyway), or the seventh game of the World Series and the NBA playoffs. Or the NCAA's Final Four championship game, which belongs in that same category.

If you're any kind of a sports fan, there's absolutely no way you're going to sit down quietly, twiddle your thumbs, close your eyes or read a book when a championship is being contested, like, right now.

And yet, that's what every local television station asks of us. In the case of yesterday's ultimate college basketball game in which Kentucky - and, really, Coach Rick Pitino - FINALLY wins a championship, it's just asking too much of a viewer.

It's also one of the great ironies in today's era of modern communication. Despite television's best asset - immediacy - we're asled to wait for the results and watch it later on Hawaiian prime time.

Oh, the game's over folks, about an hour ago. But tune in tonight and catch the game with all the local commercials and station promos added.

Armageddon just started three hours ago if you haven't noticed, folks. But it's close-your-eyes-time. Just tune in at 7 tonight and we'll tell what happened.

Needless to say, you won't find me waiting around.

AND so at 4:22 sharp yesterday afternoon - a little more than 21/2 hours before KGMB-TV went on the air with the Kentucky-Syracuse game - I sat at one of my favorite watering holes with a Bud Dry in front of me watching Kentucky grab the opening tip and miss a shot.

The Wildcats missed a lot more before the game was over, but still managed to beat the Orangemen, 76-67, giving Pitino his first national championship.

Mind you, I was pulling for Kentucky, mostly because of Pitino.

After all, the guy was once an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii. Maybe it's a reach, but it's nice to be able to say that "One of our boys made it."

Still, there was no ignoring Syracuse. The Boys from Syracuse, especially John Wallace, played a brilliant game and at least got to the championship game. Not bad for a team that got beaten badly by Massachusetts in the Rainbow Classic final earlier this season.

Wallace, by the way, was the Rainbow Classic's Most Outstanding Player even though UMass won. The tournament's best player, Marcus Camby of the Minutemen, missed the semifinal game because of an injury.

But I digress.

Let's get back to the bar and how the local practice of delayed telecasts is driving me and all other rabid sports fans to drink.

Now, if the game were televised live, I could have sat in the comfort of my home or office. But no. It's delayed and the only place I can watch it on satellite TV is some bar - a sports bar or a hostess bar. Naturally, I picked the latter for its creature comforts.

WITH all the TV timeouts, the game lasted about six to eight beers, I mean, two hours.

Then I had to wend my way back to the office. Fortunately, it's early enough and on a week day, so there was no road block.

See what I mean about delayed telecasts driving me to drink?

But, then, that's the price you pay for living in paradise and being five hours ahead of prime-time TV scheduling.

As for the game itself, it was a matter of Kentucky's hounding defense that forced Syracuse to turnover after turnover. Only a poor shooting performance by the Wildcats kept the game from being an expected runaway.

For me, the most refreshing aspect of last night's game is that the most outstanding players for each team - Wallace and Kentucky's Tony Delk - are seniors, guys who stayed in school and got to THE GAME.

That's what NCAA championship games should be all about. That and being televised live.

Bill Kwon has been writing about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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