Bud Greenspan witnesses an event at an Olympic Games and he doesn't see a gold medalist and nothing else. He sees stories emanating from every person who takes part in the event, and how they may relate to all that has gone before.
"I'm more of a romantic than anything and, because I majored in history, I'm always looking at things from a historical perspective," says the creator of the Olympiad series running on ESPN Tuesdays (8 p.m.) for the next several months.
For some in the here-and-now generation, dredging up minutiae from the past might strike as a reach by the storyteller. It's never that way in a Greenspan production, however, and the epic "Jesse Owens' Return to Berlin" is cited as proof positive.
Bud's in the process of finishing up a 20-year retrospective on the 1972 Games in Munich, an outstanding Olympics until the massacre of Israeli athletes.
"Of all the Olympiads I've been to, my favorite was Mexico City ," he said. "It was such a happy time. I mean, here was this impoverished nation and the people were so warm and giving. It was like never-never land, what the Games are truly supposed to be."
It probably would not be unfair to state that until Greenspan's "16 Days of Glory" effort is recorded, the whole story of an Olympics hasn't been properly seen and heard. While Bud's charge will always be to live up to the Olympic credo that "the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle," he must cringe when he thinks ahead to next summer when a bunch of NBA All-Stars take to the court in Spain.
"That will be the network's thing," he says. "We'll be like the old 'Victory at Sea' series; just tell the stories with no jazz attached."
* Popular sportscasting original Glenn Brenner, who suffered a mild stroke after completing last Sunday's Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, isn't expected back at Channel 9 soon. But chances of a full recovery are excellent and, in his absence, James Brown (CBS Sports) is helping out.
* The consensus is that Don King came out looking better than expected in the expose of his shenanigans over the years on PBS's "Frontline" Tuesday night. So he kicked a guy to death and was fortunate enough (snicker) to have a judge secretly drop a second-degree murder charge to manslaughter, so what? So it's common knowledge he's been robbing fighters while screaming "Only in America" for years. That's boxing. Just think if he escaped the city dump (the fight game) and went to work in politics.
* The maestro, Marty Glickman, slipped into Madison Square Garden last night to announce a quarter of the Knicks-Magic game to commemorate the 45th anniversary of his first Knicks game ever, vs. the St. Louis Bombers in the Mound City. The Philadelphia Warriors (Joe Fulks) beat the Chicago Stags in the final that year.
* According to the Arbitron Ratings, the New York City Marathon on ABC last Sunday morning had more viewers than both the Notre Dame-Navy game and the Breeders' Cup races on NBC the preceding afternoon. It's about time, it says here. The net, Jim McKay and Marty Liquori did a first-class job, the three-hour show flying by with nary a batter stepping out of the box and no close-up of a ballplayer spraying tobacco juice on a carpet.
* Too bad most of the cable outfits around here don't subscribe to Comedy Central. CC is presenting "Boxing Day" today, and from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. it's running old sitcoms, variety and game shows that had anything even remotely to do with the sweet science. Examples -- "The Lucy Show": Lucy becomes Don Rickles' fight manager. "Love American Style": Sonny Liston makes a guest appearance (can you believe it?).
* Terrific "Play of the Day" on CNN Sports the other night had the Bullets' Michael Adams doing a double wrap-around pass that saw him take five steps without a dribble. As Nick Charles put it, "Well, it's Tuesday night in the NBA, so anything goes."
* Call to "Benny The Fan" show on WITH: "What's the average age of your listening audience? Deceased?" It was "Reminiscence Night," explained co-host Joe Croghan, who often has a problem maintaining order when Benny and Charlie Eckman shift into second gear.
* Wait a moment, there's a PGA Tour event for guys in their 40s? Sure is, and CBS will be doing the last two rounds of the Amoco Centel Championship tomorrow (2 p.m.) and Sunday (2:30 p.m.).