When the NFL owners meet next month in New York, they will decide whether to accept one of the biggest money offers ever made to professional sport. The offer comes from a California promoter and film producer named Bill Sargent, who has bid $400 million for five-year television rights to the Super Bowl and the playoff games that precede it.
Sargent wants to turn the NFL postseason into a closed-circuit TV package that will be screened in 500 theaters and auditoriums. The playoff format for 1978, when Sargent's theater network would go into operation, will consist of nine games. A fan wanting to see any one or all of them would pay $100 for the package. Because Sargent expects to sell two million tickets a season, his bid far exceeds the $60 million that CBS, NBC and ABC now pay the league for televising the entire schedule, including the playoffs.
Sargent's proposal should be voted down, for while it may sound like a bonanza for the owners, it would diminish the television audience by almost 80 million fans, thereby making available the most important part of the season to only an elite few. The NFL owes much of its current popularity to home television, which has nurtured a generation of fans. Tuning them out when the season reaches its climax would be rank ingratitude and also a sure way to make fans turn off for good.
UCLA Basketball Coach Gene Bartow does not suffer criticism gladly, as his latest—and perhaps last—Los Angeles radio appearance indicated.
As the featured guest on Bud Furillo's sports talk show over KIIS, Bartow reacted hotly when a caller said that the Bruins' coach failed to teach fundamentals properly last season. "That is hogwash, hogwash, hogwash!" Bartow redundantly shouted.
Then came a commercial break and there went Bartow. Telling Furillo, "I can't take any more of this," he left the studio. Bartow later apologized to Furillo but said he would forgo any more radio appearances, "because I'm so controversial."
The occasion has yet to earn a footnote in a history book, but Jack Dempsey recently revealed that he once fought the late Howard Hughes.
Dempsey, who will be 82 on June 24, said that many years ago he was approached at his Saratoga, N.Y. training camp by Hughes, then a tall, thin, dapper teen-ager, who said he wanted to be a fighter. He asked Dempsey to spar with him and not pull any punches. Dempsey obliged only too well.