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Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Wednesday, June 28, 2000

‘MNF’ should take
a cue from soccer

MONDAY Night Football" dropped the ball big time on this one. Dennis Miller as a host? Gimme a break.

It's as poor of a choice as when someone decided Phyllis George should be part of the CBS studio show back in the 1970s.

I can remember screaming at the TV set back then. Not just because I wanted her job -- and believe me, I did -- but also because she was giving knowledgeable female football fans a bad image.

Miss America 1971 may have represented "your ideal'' of what a woman should be (at least according to the pageant's theme song) but she also represented the stereotype. The "I-am-woman, hear-me-bore-you-with-stupid-questions-about-football'' stereotype.

Even the newspaper reports of the time spoke of how George was surprised when she won the swimsuit competition because "the young miss thought her body too muscular from her many years of cheerleading.''

But enough about that.

If MNF (Miller's Not Funny) is serious about regaining fans, the network officials should tune in to FoxSportsWorld. The international channel is broadcasting Euro 2000 soccer matches, where the sport is the star of the show, not the broadcasters.

It is so enjoyable to be able to simply watch an event without wild charts and graphics, music lead-ins and fast-food tie-ins.

There is no panning of the stands by dozens of cameras to see what celebrities are in attendance.

There are no insipid interviews with stars concerning their shows that just happen to follow "right after'' the game or guests on that particular network's morning show the next day.

MAYBE I'm in the minority, but there are times when muting the sound during an NFL game is better than any option play Steve Young could have called.

What is most enjoyable about the international broadcasts is the straightforward discussion of the game.

There are no X's and O's dancing around blackboard diagrams from John Madden. Just soccer, plain and simple.

The European broadcasters are not intrusive, not trying to be part of the game -- or worse -- bigger than it. Except for the beginning of the match, their faces are never on the screen.

Viewers only know who they are by the names next to the microphone logo that pops up occasionally.

Viewers are entertained by the action on the field, not by the antics in the broadcast booth or the studio.

But perhaps U.S. network honchos don't think their audiences can think for themselves, that we need all the spiffy high-tech computer animations to explain what the 20 different camera angles might have missed.

Or that, heaven forbid, we might think of changing the channel because we don't like the music of Hank Williams Jr.

Do we watch a Mike Tyson fight for his boxing skills or in hopes of seeing some outrageous behavior? Do we watch Dennis Rodman for his rebounding or who he might duke it out with?

WWF, RollerJam, Xtreme Games, XFL: Maybe my age is showing, but what happened to real sports?

Do we really need a three-hour pre-draft show for the NFL? How necessary are the commercials telling NBA draft hopefuls how to act when their names are called today?

The lines have become blurred when it comes to athletics and entertainment.

It would be nice if someone would get out the white chalk and redraw them.

Cindy Luis is Star-Bulletin sports editor.
Her column appears weekly.

E-mail to Sports Editor

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