CBS sportscaster Brent Musberger stood alone at the Stadium yesterday, taping his foot on a depression in the snow-covered grass.
"This one's been brewing for a long time," Musberger said when asked why he had journeyed to Cambridge. "I had to do my favorite play."
The "play" occurred after Harvard lined up for the kickoff following its second touchdown in this year's edition of the Game. A big black blob of a balloon burst from the Crimson 46 yard line and began to inflate, halting the contest while large white letters proclaimed the identify of the perpetrator: MIT.
To Musberger, the prank exemplifies the attraction sport holds for his viewers. "People need escapes," he said.
Providing these escapes has become a big business, and professional teams haven't been the only ones taking the field in search of more than one type of pay dirt. Big-time college football hauls in barrels of cash, much of it coming from network television. But while most observers bemoan the loss of true amateurism, Musberger defends major college football.
"The hypocrisy [of college sports' critics] just bothers me," Musberger said. "They claim we should turn out intellectual giants. That's not the case," he added.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with a kid going to Oklahoma for four years and moving on the the NFI., Sports is such a big part of the American culture," he said.
Limit On Idealism
The idea of the student-athlete should have its limits, the veteran sportscaster said. "It would be a shame to expect a Billy Simms to be like a Harvard student." Musberger explained, saying that football players have something to offer the country's culture and should be given the training provided by the college game without being expected to become scholars.
Yet Musberger believes that universities do owe something to an athlete. "Oklahoma owes it to him that he knows how to talk contract," the Northwestern University graduate stated Major college football players will never do anything as well as they block, tackle or catch passes. Musberger said, adding that a university's responsibility is to give athletes the basic education they need to carry on their careers.
While other universities offer scholarships on the basis of athletic ability, the Ivy League schools only offer financial aid based on need Musberger said that though it is unreasonable to expect a return to Ivy-style amateurism nationwide. "It's nice to know that someplace students can still play football. The Ivy League should never change. The said "It should always stay just like it is"
"The rest of them are business men, show men," Musberger said "It'll always be that way."
Strangely enough, the videotape Musberger taped yesterday will be used January I during halftime of CBS's broadcast of-the Cotton Bowl, a game between two teams full of what Musberger calls "Businessmen"