The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 7,1989 - Page 21
Review: The Game Behind the Game
O'Neil trashes colleagues in new book
by Eric Lemont
Daily Sports Writer
Kickoff the school year with
the Michigan Sports Quiz
If there can be midterms and finals, why can't there be beginnings? And
so, today, we begin class with a little quiz.
No. 2 pencil please. Scantron not necessary. Ready? Begin.
1. The Michigan football coach is:
C. a famous author.
D. that baseball player for the Royals.
E. simply known to close friends, students and faculty as "Bo."
2. The Michigan basketball coach is:
A. Jimmy Carter.
B. in Arizona.
C. not a Michigan man.
D. talks like Andy Griffith.
E. Steve Fisher.
3. The hockey coach is:
A. Red Line.
B. Blue Baron.
C. Blue Berry.
D. Red Berenson.
4. The baseball coach is:
B. under investigation.
C. Bud Backhand.
D. Bill Frechan.
5. The football stadium is where you:
A. pass up.
B. pass out.
C. throw up.
D. watch a football game.
6. Bill Frieder is:
A. in exile.
B. caught wrapped in his towel.
C. a frentic mass-murderer.
D. no longer spoken about in the athletic department.
7. South University is:
A. a nice street to go shopping on.
B3. a nice street on the south side of campus.
C. a nice street in which the president's house is located.
D. a nice street to hold a riot on.
8. Bud Middaugh is:
A. in exile.
C. trying to coach an eight-year old boy's teeball team.
D. no longer spoken about in the athletic department.
9. The University of Michigan is:
A. home of the national champions in basketball.
B. ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press' football poll last week.
C. otherwise known as "Bo's Place."
D. starting school today.
When finished, turn paper over. Was that easy?
First-year language students may give this quiz to their TA. If you chose
the correct answer all nine times, you will receive ten bonus points.
In his recently published book
The Game Behind the Game, Terry
O'Neil prides himself on being one
of the few in the broadcast industry
interested in practicing sports
journalism - investigative, balanced
reporting, on sports related issues.
That's why it's ironic that O'Neil
uses most of the book to trash the
characters of many in the field.
O'Neil, currently the president of
NBC Sports, joined ABC right out
of college as their 1972 Olympic
researcher and quickly moved up to
become the network's senior
producer of Monday Night Football
at age 31. Because of pre-season
problems with commentator Howard
Cosell and director Chet Forte
concerning an investigative piece on
the New England Patriots, O'Neil
was let go before the season started.
O'Neil then joined CBS Sports in
1981 as their executive producer.
Although largely responsible for
replacing CBS' last place Sports
Spectacular with the currently
successful CBS Sports Saturday-
Sunday, O'Neil was again forced to
leave after losing a political battle
with commentator Brent Musberger.
O'Neil uses the 254 page book to
tell this story but with one
overriding factor. Instead of
concentrating on his own feelings,
reflections, strengths, and
weaknesses, O'Neil detaches himself
from the narrative, preferring to use
it as a framework with which to
comment on his contemporaries. As
a result, The Game Behind the
Game reads like a summertime, kiss
and tell Liz Smith gossip column.
O'Neil wisely quotes comm-
entators, executives and production
personnel criticizing each other
instead of doing the honors
personally. The reader knows
O'Neil's views regarding each person
due to his continual use of quoting
newspaper columnists to reinforce
the criticism of his selected targets.
Highlights include "Anchor
monster" Brent Musberger's pen-
chant for doing everyone's job
including O'Neil's, commentator
Tom Brookshier's dislike of Mus-
berger, and Brookshier's and Pat
Summerall's habit of drinking "their
way through 4 p.m football
All this gossip could be looked at
as honestly representing "the game
behind the . sme' but loses its
credibility as O'Neil paints himself
as a cross between Mother Theresa
and the Six Million Dollar Man.
The Game does supply an
amusing chapter on John Madden
and several interesting anecdotes
about NFL coaches, the Munich
Olympics and the Pan Am Games. It
also gives insight into the politics
and decision making process at both
ABC and CBS.
In most cases O'Neil believes
these decisions were made by the
combination of indifferent, incom-
petent executives and zealous, power
hungry on-air talents. This often left
producer O'Neil on the sideline when
they disagreed with his sports
journalism pieces and ultimately led
to his dismissal at both networks.
While this contributed to the
bitterness felt in O'Neil's writing, it
also brought about the opportunity
for him to learn that broadcast
journalism is not a meritocracy. As
NBC Sports president, O'Neil will
now have more power to program
sports his way and thus be a stronger
player in the game behind the game
- the game of control.
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