TV - or not TV?
That is the question Utah Jazz officials have had to wrestle with in past seasons, when lethargic Salt Palace ticket sales for early round NBA playoff games has forced them to carefully consider their television options. Do you televise a game that isn't sold out and risk further damage to your box office receipts? Or do you black out the game locally and risk alienating loyal Jazz fans who aren't able to make it out to the Salt Palace?Fortunately, Jazz broadcasting chief Randy Rigby doesn't have to deal with that problem with this year's opening round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. The first two games at the Salt Palace - Thursday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. - are already sold out, leading Rigby to announce Monday morning that those home games will be televised live on the Jazz Cable Network.
That's good news for cable subscribers who like to root, root, root for the home team from the comfort of their own couch - especially since Rigby has decided on a new, tougher stance on televising home playoff games.
"In the past there hasn't really been any rhyme or reason to our decisions about home playoff games," Rigby said. "But now we've decided to base it entirely on ticket sales. If there's no sellout, there's no local TV."
Which, theoretically, could be a problem if the Jazz-Warriors series goes a full five games, since there are still tickets available for that game, which is scheduled to be played Saturday, May 6, if necessary. But Rigby doesn't anticipate much controversy there.
"We'll have no problem selling out a Game Five," he said. "That game would probably be on KSTU (Ch. 13), although there's a chance that CBS could ask us to play it in the afternoon so they could carry it nationally."
TBS, meanwhile, plans to carry Game Three of the Utah-Golden State series next Tuesday from Oakland. That game will also be available to local viewers on Ch. 13, as will Thursday night's Game Four. (And just between us, the Jazz will wrap up the series in that game, ending all concern about Game Five - TV and otherwise.)
-ON TV TONIGHT: OK, sports fans, now that I have your attention let's get right down to it: Are black athletes inherently superior to white athletes? It's an intriguing question, isn't it? And Tom Brokaw and NBC News will be exploring it in some depth tonight in Black Athletes: Fact & Fiction (9 p.m., Ch. 2), an interesting hourlong documentary that is followed at 10:35 by a pointless roundtable rehash of the same information.
And the answer? Well, there's some division of opinion on the subject, as you might expect. One scholar says that "Blacks typically have a more dense skeleton, long arms and relatively longer legs. Blacks tend to have slender hips. They tend to have proportionally less fat on their extremities" - all of which tends to support claims that blacks are physiologically better equipped for the demands of some sports. Even track star Carl Lewis says without reservation that "the blacks, physically, are made better."
But others on the program claim that the success of so many black athletes in American sports today has more to do with sociology than anatomy. Sports is a way of life in the ghetto, they say, and it's a way out. In their view, the issue is one of racism - not race.
But most of the hour seems to make a clear case in favor of Lewis' proposition. Which should come as a great relief to Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder - even if it won't help him get his CBS job back.
In a lighter vein, Bruce Boxleitner plays a slightly crazy soldier of fortune leading a merry band of World War II military misfits against the Japanese in Road Raiders (7 p.m., Ch. 5). This is a pilot of a possible future series, and the emphasis is clearly going to be on humor and adventure - not authenticity. If its authentic World War II action you want, you're probably going to be better served by Ted Turner's colorized version of The Sands of Iwo Jima (8:15 p.m., TBS) with John Wayne.
Elsewhere, Joe Don Baker begins his tour of duty as ailing Carol O'Connor's replacement on In The Heat of the Night (8 p.m., Ch. 2); KUED examines America in the Age of AIDS (8 p.m., Ch. 7), followed by a Civic Dialogue (9 p.m., Ch. 7) discussion of the Utah in the age of AIDS; Bogey and Bergman "play it again" in Casablanca (8 p.m., Ch. 14); and Major League Baseball coverage includes Atlanta-New York (5:30 p.m., TBS), Texas-Cleveland (5:30 p.m., Ch. 30) and Los Angeles-Chicago (5:30 p.m., WGN)
And then there's the silly teen comedy Moving Violations (7 p.m., Ch. 13). Remember - "Just Say No."
Looking Toward Wednesday: Keith Carradine and Stacy Keach star in the USA Cable Network's first made-for-cable movie, The Forgotten (7 p.m., USA), a drama about Vietnam War veterans; America's "moral illiteracy" is explored in See Dick & Jane Lie, Cheat & Steal (7 p.m., Ch. 5); Al Pacino takes the legal profession to court in . . . And Justice for All (7 p.m., Ch. 13); Peter Jennings hosts PBS's second AIDS Quarterly (8 p.m., Ch. 7); Farrah Fawcett and Jeff Bridges star in Somebody Killed Her Husband (8 p.m., Ch. 14); and Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant are delightful in Bringing Up Baby (8 p.m., TNT). - J.W.