CNN probes when fans cross line

ON THE AIR

October 07, 1994|By MILTON KENT

Where is the line that separates true admiration of spectator for athlete and obsessive destructive behavior and how does the performer find protection when that line is crossed?

Those are questions at the heart of a fascinating "Field of Screams" episode of "CNN Presents" (Sunday, 9 p.m.), which examines the behavior of the sports fan.

During the hourlong program, reporter Jim Huber interviews host of athletes and security officials, as well as local nuisance Robin Ficker, who plies his trade at the USAir Arena against unsuspecting NBA visitors.

The program is particularly gripping when it explores the attack on tennis star Monica Seles during a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, 18 months ago. Huber reports that two of the bodyguards assigned to protect Seles were moonlighting, and were not trained professionals.

The show also chronicles the obsession of a stalker who hounded and terrorized champion figure skater Katarina Witt for two years.

In one segment, Witt tells of an instance where police detained the stalker, who had mailed and faxed frightening letters, come to her home and thrown menacing notes on the ice while she skated, and she was forced to translate his answers to officers, who could not speak German.

Gridiron on the tube

NBC sends a potentially boffo NFL doubleheader to local carrier Channel 2 on Sunday with the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore's adopted team, taking on Buffalo at 1 p.m. and an AFC West showdown between unbeaten San Diego and Kansas City at 4 p.m. Channel 45 will have the Arizona-Dallas game at 4.

The national ratings were released yesterday and through five weeks, NBC holds a slight lead over Fox (11.6 to 11.3), though its 30-minute pre-game show trails Fox's one-hour offering, 4.4 to 3.7.

NBC, which carries AFC games, is believed to hold a lead over an NFC carrier (CBS or Fox) for the first time in 15 years.

Meanwhile, TNT, which will have the Redskins-Philadelphia contest Sunday night at 8, reports that its ratings are up 10 percent from '93.

Big Ten, big deal

ESPN and the Big Ten yesterday announced a mammoth six-year deal that gives the cable service exclusivity on all basketball and football games not signed to an over-the-air network.

Not only will ESPN and ESPN2 carry football, men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball from the conference, but the network, through its new Creative Sports arm, also will produce games for local telecasts and syndication.

ESPN also will provide access to game notes, press releases and historical information from the Big Ten schools through its on-line sports information service, ESPNET.

Network boxing returns

There was a time when boxing was a staple on all the broadcast networks, but lucrative pay-cable and pay-per-view purses slowly but surely drove it off the air.

But tomorrow, for the first time in four years, a regular boxing series will air on a network, namely CBS, as its "Quaker State RTC World Championship Boxing" card debuts on "Eye on Sports" at 4:30 p.m.

"The sales people were telling me that they were having a hard time selling boxing to advertisers," said analyst Gil Clancy, who will team with Tim Ryan. "I don't understand that because we constantly outdraw golf and beach volleyball and stuff like that."

First up is a 12-round World Boxing Federation cruiserweight championship bout between titleholder Kerry Keene (28-0, with 19 knockouts) and Terry Ray (27-1, 15 knockouts) in Ray's hometown, Terre Haute, Ind.

Alas, you'll need to pick up Channel 9 out of Washington to get this week's fight, since the alleged Baltimore CBS affiliate, Channel 11, is bypassing yet another network offering for its own cheap programming before January's affiliate swap.

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