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William Taaffe
December 26, 1988
Believe it or not, it was two decades ago last month that NBC cut away from a dramatic New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game to show that little bundle of joy named Heidi traipsing through a meadow in the Alps. What better way to celebrate her 20th than to hand out our annual Heidi Awards for the best and worst in sports TV for 1988? So Heidi ho, and away we go....
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December 26, 1988

'tis The Season For Heidi To Spread Her Cheers And Jeers

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?BEST INTERVIEW—The skeptical Q-and-A by Bryant Gumbel, NBC's Summer Olympics anchor, with Angel Myers, the U.S. swimmer who was barred from the Games for using a banned substance.

?WORST INTERVIEW—By the woefully insensitive David Santee at the Winter Games. "I have good news for you and bad news," he told figure skater Brian Orser of Canada seconds after Orser came off the ice following the freestyle performance that would determine the outcome of his showdown with Brian Boitano. "Those were tremendous style and competition marks, but you came in second." Morton Downey could have handled the moment better.

?MOST INANE INTERVIEW—To Al Trautwig, who during the Winter Olympics asked Dr. Ruth Westheimer whether skiers should have sex the night before competing. She responded that "a quickie" with one's "wife or partner" would be O.K. but that oversexed athletes should "take a shower or do something to relieve themselves."

?BEST SHORT FEATURES—1) The life-imitating-art segues before Game 2 of the World Series between the Gibson homer and a similar scene from The Natural. 2) A slo-mo Winter Olympics piece depicting the duration of 1/100 of a second—the margin sometimes separating Olympic competitors—by showing a drop of milk landing and an apple being pierced by a bullet. 3) An ABC profile on Olympic figure skaters Natalie and Wayne Seybold, and how the town of Marion, Ind., sacrificed for them.

?BEST JOURNALISM—1) NBC's Olympic boxing coverage. Marv Albert, Ferdie Pacheco and Wally Matthews handled complex stories extraordinarily well. 2) ESPN's daily SportsCenter. Consistently thorough and fast-paced.

?BEST ANALYSIS—1) McCarver, for insightful, even prescient, commentary during the National League playoffs. 2) Passionate yet precise Dick Button on Olympic figure skating.

?THE TITANIC AWARD FOR MAJOR DISASTER—To Charlie Jones and Frank Shorter for their call of the men's 800 run in Seoul. At one point Shorter had Johnny Gray of the U.S. in first place when, in fact, Gray was running sixth. Jones, who otherwise did an excellent job, declared Kenya's Nixon Kiprotich the winner instead of actual winner Paul Ereng, also of Kenya.

?THE AL CAMPANIS MEMORIAL TROPHY—To Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder for his shameful generalizations about race. In an impromptu interview given to WRC, NBC's affiliate in Washington, D.C., in January, Snyder said that blacks are better athletes than whites because blacks had been "bred" to have "big thighs." He further said that blacks are taking so many jobs in sports that "there's not going to be anything left for the white people." CBS immediately fired Snyder, who had been a fixture on NFL Today for 12 years.

?THE ATTILA THE HUN CITATION—To Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, who during a prime-time interview in April with Connie Chung, had this to say on the subject of rape: "If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it." Why did NBC even allow this kind of ignorance to be broadcast?

?THE DEWEY BEATS TRUMAN AWARD—To Trautwig, who announced during a break with five minutes remaining in the Michigan- Miami football game that "the top-ranked Hurricanes have lost." Miami rallied to win 31-30. This was not a scintillating year for Trautwig.

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