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....
?THE REVERSE HEIDI—To KYW-TV, the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia, which outraged viewers by preempting the first half of the national championship game between Miami and Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to give its viewers extended coverage of the Mummers' Parade.
?BEST LIVE TELECAST—The women's Olympic figure skating finals on ABC. Director Doug Wilson caught all the key elements of the competition, including the poignancy of Debi Thomas telling her coach, "I'm sorry," the joy of Canada's Elizabeth Manley unexpectedly getting a silver medal and the exuberance of Japan's Midori Ito, who won the hearts of millions.
?BEST ANNOUNCER—ABC's Al Michaels. He was incisive, witty, enthusiastic and well-informed on whatever sport he covered, whether it was baseball, football or Olympic hockey. His work on the National League playoffs with Tim McCarver and Jim Palmer was best-ever material.
?OUR FIRST ARCHIE BUNKER MEMORIAL MEDAL—To Dale Hansen, sports anchor at WFAA-TV in Dallas. Commenting in September on Robin Givens's assertion that life with Mike Tyson was "pure hell," Hansen said, "If my wife had gone on national television and said that about me, I'd probably slap her upside the head, too."
?THE LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD NAIVET� RIBBON—To ABC's Barbara Walters for her two prime-time interviews with Givens. Heidi is no cynic, but it seems to her that there's a chance—just a chance—that Givens took Walters for a ride through the woods.
?MOST MEMORABLE LIVE SHOTS—1) Kirk Gibson pulling the throttle in emotion as he rounded second after his ninth-inning home run in Game 1 of the World Series ( NBC).
2) The stunned reactions of Dan Jansen and his family after his second fall in Olympic speed skating (ABC).
?BEST STUDIO SHOWS—ESPN's football troika of College GameDay, NFL GameDay and NFL PrimeTime. No glitz, just substance. Each program has a nice variety of elements, never talks down to the viewer and imparts an inside-the-sport flavor.
?WORST STUDIO SHOW—The Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford patter-and-drivel exercise during the Winter Olympics. The most memorable observation Kathie Lee had in two weeks was how healthy the Canadian farm babies looked. Or maybe it was her comment on Billy Kidd's cowboy clothes: "I want that hat. It goes with my outfit!"