Then there's NFL Sunday Ticket, which gives bars and home subscribers a satellite feed of every game; the service now reaches 400,000 homes. It's cheaper than season tickets and guarantees access to every game (except those locally blacked out). Says Tennessee Oilers general manager Floyd Reese, "If you're an NFL fan and you can stay home with all the games in front of you, that's got to be pretty tempting."
Feeling the Loss
The death generated a remarkable outpouring. One daily newspaper ran 25 pages in memoriam. A radio news station discussed the deceased all day. Tens of thousands of ordinary people paid tribute with flowers. And Richie Ashburn was not even a princess.
What he was, simply, was a beloved Philadelphian. Sweet-natured and humorous, Whitey, as he was known, spent 12 years of his 15-year Hall of Fame career as a Phillies outfielder. After retiring in 1962 (he spent that season with the New York Mets), he went on to broadcast, on television or radio, nearly every game the Phillies played for the next 35 years. When he died on Sept. 9 of a heart attack, he was 70 years old and, though slowed by diabetes, still going strong. Only a few hours before he had called a game. One among the more than 20,000 who visited Ashburn as he lay in state at Philadelphia's Memorial Hall last Friday placed a transistor radio among the bouquets.
The viewing of Ashburn's closed casket was to go from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., but so long were the lines that it lasted until nearly nine. Philadelphia mayor Edward Rendell was there, as were scads of sports figures from all across the country. In the early afternoon the entire Philadelphia Phillies roster arrived. The players were all in uniform.
Test of Passions
Given both nations' love for cricket and antipathy for each other, matches between India and Pakistan are infamous for inflaming passions. After the March 1996 World Cup in Bangalore, Indians celebrated the home team's victory with firecrackers and street dancing, while fans in Pakistan went on a rampage, burning posters of their team and attacking the players' homes. As a result, the two countries' next meeting, a series of five matches that began last Saturday, was played 7,200 miles away at the presumably calmer setting of the Toronto Cricket, Skating & Curling Club. The intensity remained, nonetheless. "It is never just a game," says Sanjay Kumar Singh, an avid India supporter. "Something much stronger takes over. Sometimes you can't bear to see it, but you can never tear yourself away."
Which is why millions of Indians and Pakistanis have been riveted into the wee hours to the TV coverage from Toronto, while in New York City, ardent expatriates have been paying $29.95 to watch the action on pay-per-view. The first match drew 5,000 people, more than half of whom backed India, which won. But after India prevailed again on Sunday, tempers flared on the grounds. Pakistan cricketer Inzamam Ul-Haq was suspended for two matches after scuffling with a heckler. That may set a dim precedent for three one-day matches that are scheduled to start on Sept. 29 in Pakistan, the first between the two teams there since 1989. "It would be good to have better cricketing relations," says Khurram Mehdi, an engineer from Islamabad, Pakistan. "We share a common background. Politicians have separated us, not sports people."