The Media Learning Curve: Dec. 31-Jan. 7

Spinning off more about the quasi-ESPN “SportsCenter” spoof-off called “SportsDome,” presented by The Onion, that debuts Tuesday on Comedy Central (linked here):

== While “SportsDome” is a TV concept that was hatched more than a year ago, the writers and producers at The Onion have had the time to let it stew with more than three years of creating “SportsCenter”-type videos for its website.

The two entities remain separate — the TV show isn’t simply a compilation of bits created on the website and transfered over, like HBO did recently with FunnyOrDie.com (which returns for a second season starting Friday, Jan. 14).

So all the things you’ve seen in the past on The Onion Sports Network (linked here) are complimentary appetisers to this new main course. Some of the clips now on the site, such as the “Top 10 countdown of the best athletes named Stan,” are from the pilot that The Onion staff created to sell to Comedy Central back in 2009.

“We’re going to continue the web videos,” said Will Graham, one of the “SportsDome” executive producers, “but we’re just happy with a bigger palate to play with. Now we hve 22 minutes as opposed to just two-to-five minutes to make more fun stuff.”

== The comedy, granted, can get a little sophomoric. Consider the audience. Then take, for example, the ongoing piece in Episode 2 that deals with a 13-year-old kid from Ojai trying to set the record for most times masterbating in one day.

The “SportsDome” crew follows the story in each segment with one of those jazzy graphics, “Road to 32,” with coverage of press conferences, interviews with the boy’s father and updates throughout the show.

“I didn’t think there’d be a problem” getting that on the air, said head writer Jack Kukoda. “Using the graphic, it was to me like how ESPN would do a countdown to a Barry Bonds home-run chase or something like that.”

In other words, ESPN would be shooting its wad on another overblown angle.

Which plays right into the “SportsDome” strategy.

The other thing that Kukoda says he finds perpetually humorous is the way ESPN rotates its anchors in — all non-descript.

“You’re watching a show, and then they put up the graphic of who the person is, and you say, ‘I thought that was the other guy’,” said Kukoda. “The set is really the star of the show, with all the bells firing off.”

Adds Graham: “I think the thing that is really inspiring about ESPN as a kind of taking-off point was their kind of faceless army of rotating anchors, that just kind of seemingly get like switched out and inserted into chairs like robots, or something like that. You’re like, ‘Oh, that’s that guy,’ or ‘That other – those other four guys.’ ”

== Maybe a better description of “SportsDome” comes from the Comedy Central comedy writers/media relations staff who write up the press releases. Like this one:

“Sports are finally about to get the attention they deserve, courtesy of The Onion, America’s most trusted news source …. ‘SportsDome’ is a 30-minute rundown of the finest in sports news, analysis, scores, highlights, rumor-mongering and petty personal attacks … the signature show of the Onion Sports Network, which has grown from a humble UHF channel purchased as a tax dodge and a way to profit from The Onion’s vast footage library of women’s beach volleyball, into the undisputed global sports leader it is today.

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‘ “SportsDome” is now the number one destination for fans seeking game reports, insight from former players and theme music heavy on bell tones and bendy guitar riffs. With its total access to the inside of sports and pulse-pounding coverage, it has become impossible to be a sports fan without being a fan of the ‘Dome.’

“The show is co-anchored by Mark Shepard and Alex Reiser. Reiser earned a seat at the ‘SportsDome’ desk in 1995 after working his way up from the mailroom, showing the persistence needed to repeatedly knock on the office door of the VP of OSN programming and shout highlights from the night before at the top of his lungs. Mark Shepard has been with ‘SportsDome’ since 2005, when he parlayed the suicide of a World Backgammon Championships commentator into his first on-air appearance, impressing producers enough to install him behind the storied ‘SportsDome’ anchor desk.

“Shepard and Reiser are joined by the venerable ‘Dome’ crew, including Senior sports insider Reggie Greengrass, who needs nine Blackberries to hold the phone numbers of all the athletes he knows; update anchor Melissa Wells, who holds more journalism degrees than the rest of her colleagues put together; “Wish Zone” host Jay Woodworth, who makes terminally-ill children’s dreams come true as long as they are sports-related; analyst Doc Webb, who holds the SportsDome record for the number of athletes he’s referred to as ‘overpaid garbage,’ and investigative reporter Marc Howell, who, mines sports’ most tragic elements for awards and ratings gold.”

And as for the rest of the stuff that wouldn’t fit into the print edition:

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== Welcome to Steve Buckley’s coming out party.

The Boston Herald sports columnist has told the world in a column Thursday (linked heree) that he’s not only gay, but it’s something he wishes he’d come clean about years ago.

Or, mentioned it before the ninth paragraph.

“I guess I’ve kind of buried the lead here, which, I admit, has been a common complaint about my writing over the years. But what the heck: The headline has already given away the story, and, anyway, what happened that day seven years ago is central to why I am writing today.”

At last count, he had more than 600 people leave comments on his column. The first one, posted by “Snaglepuss,” read: “Good for you Steve, but I’m sure you just lost 90% of the Herald ‘readers’.”

Another post by “rightwingnut”: “GUARANTEE this helps Steve’s career as it will get him national attention and probably a spot on Around The Horn.”

We don’t wish him that indignity, although his column was mentioned by the Boston Globe’s Jackie MacMullan after her latest “victory” on the show Thursday.

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== Your NFL TV lineup as Weekend 1 of the playoffs:

Saturday:
= New Orleans at Seattle, 1:30 p.m., Channel 4 (with Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock and Alex Flanagan)
= N.Y. Jets at Indianapolis, 5 p.m., Channel 4 (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer).

Sunday:
= Baltimore at Kansas City, 10 a.m., Channel 2 (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms)
= Green Bay at Philadelphia, 1 p.m., Channel 11 (with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman).

== The full effect of how ESPN has fared in taking over as the home of the entire Bowl Championship Series games won’t be determined until after Monday’s Oregon-Auburn championship contest. If preliminary numbers are any indication in showing how the Rose and Fiesta Bowls on New Year’s Day audience dipped below the 2010 marks, when the former was on ABC and the later on Fox, expect the trend to continue.

Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit call Monday’s BCS championship, with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden on radio, and Joe Tessitore, Tim Brown and Todd Blackledge on ESPN 3D. Former Oregon coach Mike Belliotti, in his first year as an ESPN game analyst, will join the ESPN GameDay crew on site.

== Fox’s Kenny Albert and Darryl Johnston call tonight’s LSU-Texas A&M Cotton Bowl (5 p.m., Channel 11), the first time the game has been put in a prime-time TV slot. Pat Summerall is also part of the broadcast, doing the game intro and an interview with new Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame inductee Jim Brown.

== Bob Papa, Aaron Taylor, Lewis Johnson, Marty Snider and Tom Lemming are part of NBC’s broadcast of the annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl (Saurday, 10 a.m., Channel 4), featuring 90 of the nation’s top high school football players in an East-West format at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Several currently undecided players will also announce their college choices during the telecast. According to the official website (linked here), local athletes expected to play are Granada Hills High defensive back George Atkinson, Grant High defensive lineman Viliami Moala and defensive back James Sample, and Crenshaw High running back/defensive back (and USC enrollee) De’Anthony Thomas.

== KSPN-AM (710) announced the hiring of Scott McCarthy as its new general manager. McCarthy, a Harvard MBA graduate who grew up in Albuquerque, was Executive Vice President, ABC Radio Networks (2001-04) and Senior Vice President, ABC Broadcast Group (2000-01). Prior to that he led the development and launch of Radio Disney and was its first employee and first general manager (1996-99). Most recently, McCarthy founded and was managing partner of Alacon Ventures (2007-10), involved in growing digital media/entertainment and consumer interactive services.

== As the reminded us during the closing credits of the final installment of HBO’s “24/7″ on the NHL’s Winter Classic, all four episodes reair in order Saturday starting at 1:30 p.m. If you’ve missed any, TiVo the whole thing and save it. Classic stuff indeed. Especially the miked players.

= AND FINALLY:

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== Check out a 10-part series on the Golf Channel they’re calling a “docu-reality” show based on the recent plight of 53-year-old Mark Burk, an aspiring pro who recently ended up homeless and living in abandoned construction pipes in Palm Springs.

When the series starts Tuesday (6:30 p.m.), you’ll see how Burk grew up dreaming of being a pro golfer, played in some pro satellite tours around the world, and ended up a instructor and Hollywood movie consultant. He lived with girlfriend and supermodel Beverly Johnson, but in 2008, he was charged with alleged domestic violence and left penniless.

The series picks up Burk’s life as he tries to get his life back together on the golf course and make it to the Champions Tour qualifying school.

“Even through all of Mark’s personal and professional struggles, it’s been his passion and respect for the game of golf that has kept him alive,” said Keith Allo, Golf Channel vice president of programming and original productions.

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Fox’s Pac-12 title game deal is done

Fox, which is most likely to partner up with the Pac-10 to create the conference’s first TV network within the next couple of years, has locked up the rights to do the inaugural Pac-12 football championship this fall, creating a doubleheader with the network that will be capped off with the inaugural Big Ten’s title game (when it also has 12 teams).

Those two made-for-TV-money games will go head-to-head with CBS’ SEC championship and ABC’s ACC championship (moved to this day after the Big 12, dropping to 10 teams, no longer will have a title game).

The Fox-Pac-12 deal, reported to be in the $25 million range, also includes expanding coverage of the conference for the 2011-12 regular season — adding up to six football and 10 men’s basketball games for Fox Sports Net. ESPN had the first opportunity to negotiate for the Pac-12 title game rights but couldn’t work out a deal.

“This is an historic time for the conference as we expand to the Pac-12 next season and we are thrilled to be working with Fox Sports and their award-winning production team,” Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement.

The Pac-12′s first-ever football championship game is set for Dec. 3 at 12:30 p.m., leading into the Big Ten telecast.

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Saturday’s Mychal-and-Mychel show, live from Malibu

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Mychal Thompson’s schedule has lined up with Mychel Thompson’s to create an interesting TV moment this weekend.

Mychal, the dad and Lakers’ radio analyst, accepted a Prime Ticket invite to join Paul Sunderland to call Saturday’s Pepperdine-St. Mary’s 5 p.m. game from Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu – the first time he’ll be on the air for a contest featuring his son, Mychel, the Waves’ 6-foot-7 senior forward and leading scorer.

“I think the last time I got to call one of my son’s games were as a Little League PA announcer,” Mychal said.

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“This sounds like fun. I really wasn’t thinking about it. Fox just called and said they needed an analyst.”

Windows of opportunities have come up in the past for Thompson to join the broadcast of games involving either of his college basketball playing sons – junior Klay is the Pac-10′s leading scorer at Washington State, and Mychal was at his game on New Year’s Eve at USC. But this will be a first for the family.

The Lakers have games Friday and Sunday at home, leaving Saturday as a chance to do it.

“I have no problem being objective,” said Mychal. “I always tell my sons to play hard, give all your effort and be competitive, and as long as I see that, I won’t be critical.”

And if Mychel isn’t giving it his all?

“I’ll let him know on the air, but my wife (Julie) has already threatened me that I’d better be nice.”

Sunderland, who worked only with Stu Lantz during his time as the Lakers’ TV play-by-play man while Thompson was always on radio, said that Mychal’s ability to separate himself as a dad and broadcaster should be “no issue at all. He’s a pro and a smart guy.

“Not to overshadow the broadcast, but I’m hoping to draw him out more on the challenges and joys of parenting such succeesful sons, about the approaches he took and the mistakes he might have made. The most important things he learned along the way might help others.”

Mychel (bio linked here), who arrived at Pepperdine via a year at Stoneridge Prep in Simi Valley after starring at Santa Margarita High, is 27th on the Waves’ all-time scoring list with 1,159 points going into Thursday’s game against San Diego. Thompson will likely end up as the school’s all-time leader in games played, and is fourth 3-pointers made (168) and eighth in steals (131 in 112 games).

Thompson son No. 3 — 19-year-old Trayce — could be at UCLA right now playing baseball. But as the second-round MLB draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2009, the center fielder recently finished his second season of pro ball at Single-A Kannapolis, N.C.

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Dodgers-Giants break in the new ESPN MLB schedule — a get-your-freak on ‘must-see’ Thursday night

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ESPN, which already forced movement of the Major League Baseball Opening Day from a traditional Monday to a Sunday night, has now received the OK to push it back to Thursday, March 31, and logged the Dodgers’ season- and home-opener against the defending champion San Francisco Giants as part of a tripleheader broadcast.

The Dodgers and Giants were scheduled to open the season with a four-game series beginning on Friday, April 1, with March 31 as a offday (after an exhibition game at Dodger Stadium against Seattle on March 30). ESPN has taken the late game of that series, scheduled for Monday, April 4, and moved it to March 31.

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The Dodgers-Giants are also scheduled to be the first Fox network broadcast of the season (on Saturday, April 2 at 1 p.m.) and the first ESPN “Sunday Night” telecast (Sunday, April 3, ESPN2). The Dodgers’ previous season opener on Friday, April 1 has been changed from a 1 p.m. start to 7:10 p.m.

The March 31 opener starts with coveage of Detroit at the New York Yankees (10 a.m.), followed by San Diego at St. Louis (1 p.m.) before the Giants-Dodgers (5 p.m.), which will be called by the new ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” crew of Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine.

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The MLB season has opened on either Sunday or Monday every year since 1998 (excluding games played in Japan), and this is the first Thursday opener since 1976. The shift in starting the season earlier is to have it end on Wednesday, Sept. 28, so that the World Series ends earlier (instead of going into early November).

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Sharman, Zamperini added to SCSB annual to-do

This just sorta in from the Southern California Sports Broadcasters group:

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Bill Sharman, basketball All America at USC who coached the Lakers team to its first NBA championship in 1972, and Louis Zamperini, a USC track legend, 1936 Olympic runner and the subject of the current New York Times best-seller listed book, Unbroken, will be honored by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters for Outstanding Career Achievement at the group’s 20th annual awards ceremonies on Monday, January 25 in Toluca Lake.

Sharman, a native of Southern California, is one of only three to be in the basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach (John Wooden and Lenny Wilkins are the others). He played with the Boston Celtics for 10 years, winning four NBA championships. He coached the 1971-72 Lakers to an NBA record 33 consecutive wins.

Zamperini, a native of Torrance where his track exploits earned him the nickname “The Torrance Tornado,” set a national collegiate record in the mile at USC that lasted for 15 years. He also ran the 5,000 meters at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. In the Air Force, Zamperini’s B-24 crashed in the Pacific and the saga of his 47 days adrift in a rubber raft, being captured by Japanese navy and spending two years as a POW is the subject of the current book by Laura Hillenbrand.

Also included in the SCSB Awards are the announcement of the 2010 winners in nine radio and TV sportscasting categories, as voted by the SCSB membership, Al Michaels receiving the Stu Nahan President’s Award and Rich Marotta inducted into the SCSB Hall of Fame.

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Scam or not, how do we find balance reporting on the Power Balance?

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By Amy Taxin
The Associated Press

Shaquille O’Neal swears by them. The Power Balance bracelet, he says, gives him a competitive edge on the court. It’s no gimmick, he says. It’s for real.

It may be for him, but Australian authorities say the California-based company behind the wildly popular wristbands and pendants has no business claiming that they improve balance, strength and flexibility.

And they even got Power Balance to admit it.

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The company wrote: “We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims.” It also agreed to give refunds to customers who believe they were cheated.

The company’s admission, however, hopped across the globe since its agreement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission was announced on Dec. 22.

It was an answer to what many who saw the ads wondered: Do the colorful silicone bands actually work?

Critics railed against the company on Twitter and those who had believed in the bracelet’s power.

The company unleashed a torrent of its own tweets, playing off the word “admit.”

In one, it said: “Power Balance Admits products have been worn during the last world series, nba finals and super bowl champions!”

Fans insist the bands have helped their game.

“Our trainers swear by it,” Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley wrote in a message posted on his Twitter page.

The company began selling bracelets in 2007 embedded with holograms that were purportedly designed to interact with the body’s natural energy flow.

Since then, the colorful wristbands, which sell for $29.95, have become ubiquitous, donned by Lakers’ Lamar Odom and Galaxy star David Beckham.

They have also been worn by celebrities, including actors Robert De Niro and Gerard Butler.

The company sold $8,000 of merchandise in its first year and expects more than $35 million in sales in 2010.

Power Balance, for its part, doesn’t claim to have science on its side, said Adam Selwyn, a spokesman for the Laguna Niguel-based company.

Rather, it relies on testimonials from famous athletes and users to tout the products’ effects.

Josh Rodarmel, one of the company’s co-founders, said in a statement he knows there may be skeptics.

“We’re not trying to win over every person in the world,” he said.

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Ralph Reiff, program director at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, said maybe a third of the hundreds of professional and amateur athletes who train there wear the wristband or an imitation.

The program even thought about putting its logo on the products and handing them out, he said.

But officials decided against that because they couldn’t find enough reliable research to back up the company’s claims about giving a biological boost to performance, he said.

“I couldn’t look in the mirror and 100 percent say (it’s) a product I can put my brand reputation behind,” said Reiff, a certified athletic trainer.

Reiff said he believes there’s no reason to think the wristbands could produce a biological benefit, and that any benefit is purely psychological.

“It’s just like a pair of lucky socks,” Reiff said. “It’s a lucky charm, and if you believe in it, then it’s excellent.”

On its web site, Power Balance features video footage of athletes holding their arms out and resisting downward pressure in trials with and without the bands.

A Wisconsin professor ran similar tests comparing the performance of 42 athletes wearing Power Balance wristbands and silicon versions from Wal-Mart and said he found no difference.

Athletes were more likely to perform better wearing the second bracelet they put on, largely because they knew what to expect from the trial, said John Porcari, professor of exercise and sport science at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

“I think it is a scam,” he said. “It has absolutely nothing to do with the bracelets. It is all in people’s heads.”

AP Science Writer Malcom Ritter contributed to this report from New York.

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We don’t give a spit: While awaiting the HOF decision, the IBWAA has spoken: Alomar is in (and Blyleven is already in)

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The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America has selected second baseman Roberto Alomar in its second annual Hall of Fame election, organization president Howard Cole announced today.

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The Base Ball Writers Association of America announce their Hall of Fame voting Wednesday, with Bert Blyleven expected to finally break through as an inductee, along with Alomar.

Alomar, who played for seven teams in a 17-year major league career, was named on 75 percent of IBWAA ballots, and was the only player to receive three-quarters of the vote, the same threshold required by the BBWAA in the election which determines the actual inductees.

With the exception of Blyleven, who the IBWAA selected last year, ballots listed the same 31 nominees as did the traditional writers association, with a December 30, 2010 deadline for votes to be valid, and no rounding up of percentages permitted for selection (i.e., a 74.85 count would not suffice).

Complete IBWAA voting:
= Roberto Alomar: 75 percent
= Jeff Bagwell: 70 percent
= Lee Smith: 65 percent
= Jack Morris: 55 percent
= Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez and Tim Raines: 50 percent
= Larry Walker: 45 percent
= Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero, Dale Murphy and Fred McGriff: 40 percent
= Alan Trammell: 35 percent
= Dave Parker: 25 percent
= Don Mattingly and John Franco: 20 percent
= Harold Baines: 10 percent
= Carlos Baerga, Kevin Brown, Juan Gonzalez, Lenny Harris, Al Leiter and John Olerud: 5 percent:

The IBWAA was created July 4, 2009 by Cole, editor of BaseballSavvy.com, to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as an alternative to the Base Ball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).

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RB5, and more justification for DN Sports Person of the Year deal

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A reader writes to complain:

“Let it be known that the L.A. Newspaper Group selection of Reggie Bush as its sports person of the year, should also rank at the top of the worst decisions of the 2010 sports year. After reading your story I can only describe my feelings as complete and utter disgust.”

It’s one of many common sentiments we’ve have land in our in-box over the last couple of days, since our story on Dec. 31, ’10 (linked here) announced that Bush, the former USC tailback who set off a domino effect on USC’s football program, was our Sports Person of the Year. He fit the definition.

For what it’s worth: Bush was named No. 8 on the USA Today list of the Top 100 Sports Figures of 2010 (linked here), only topped by Tiger Woods (at No. 1), LeBron James, Michael Vick, Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger and Rex Ryan.

Sounds like we kind of nailed it then, right?

Other names of note on the USA Today Top 100:
12. Kobe Bryant
15. Phil Jackson
26. Lane Kiffin
27. Jim Gray (our No. 1 in the annual dubious dozen of the sports media)
31. John Wooden (voted our top story of the year)
44. Evan Lysacek
51. Zenyatta
67. Pete Carroll
74. Frank and Jamie McCourt
76. Gilbert Arenas
79. Landon Donovan
90. Ron Artest
95. Pat Haden

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Play it forward: Jan. 3-9 on your sports calendar

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Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

MONDAY

College football: Orange Bowl, Miami: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

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Here’s three more hours of speculation about whether Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh will use this season a launching point to the NFL – Fox reported Sunday that the 49ers have targeted him as their No. 1 choice. With a little luck, Andrew Luck will get some attention, too. According to the EA Sports “NCAA Football ’11″ game simulated on ESPN.com (linked here), Luck completes 21 of 29 passes for 287 yards and a couple of scores in Stanford’s underwhelming 24-10 win. Not to spoil anything.

NHL: Kings vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 6 p.m., Versus:

The Kings run their latest three-game losing streak to Chicago, where the Blackhawks just beat them, 3-2, on Dec. 19. The Kings are 0-3 against Hawks this season and 0-6-1 in Chitown since an OT win at United Center on Dec. 30, 2007. And Chicago captain Jonathan Toews seems ready to come back from a shoulder injury.

TUESDAY

College football: Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Ohio State, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

Thanks to the strong arm of the Sugar Bowl and Big Ten officials, those five Buckeyes suspended for five games next year because they were hard up for cash and sold some of their stuff can still play in this one, giving the Razorbacks some extra incentive.

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NBA: Lakers vs. Detroit, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Hey, Detroit’s D-League entry, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, are second in the Eastern Conference with a 10-5 mark.

Series: “Biggest Loser,” 8 p.m., Channel 4:

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Former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner is one of the 22 contestants, paired off into 11 teams, starting the 11th season of the weight-loss reality show. Watch him grapple with the fact he’s lugging around nearly 475 pounds and can’t get in and out of his car.

WEDNESDAY

NBA: Lakers at Phoenix, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:

The Suns hit a team-record 22 3-pointers (in 40 attempts) in a five-point win over the Lakers in their last meeting. To put that into perspective, they made 21 2-pointers to go with that. And beware: Phoenix actually held Detroit to 75 points in a win the other night, ending a streak of 388 consecutive regular-season games allowing more than 75 points.

NBA: Clippers vs. Denver, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

The Clips’ Blake Griffin has a streak of 21 straight double-doubles. The franchise record of 22 is held by . . . Swen Nater, ’77-’78, Buffalo Braves.

College basketball: Cal State Northridge at Long Beach State, 7 p.m.:

Lenny Daniel leads the 4-9 Mats in scoring (16.2 points a game) and in boards (9.2), with double-doubles in four of his last five games. Likewise, power forward T.J. Robinson leads the 7-8 49ers in points and rebounds (14.9, 10.1). Both have season-high scoring marks of 31 points.

NHL: Ducks vs. Nashville, Honda Center, 7 p.m., FSW:

The Predators are another team trying to nose into the top eight of the Western Conference, but are staying close with a goals-against average less than 2.5, thanks to Pekka Rinne.

THURSDAY

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Golf: PGA Tour’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions, first round, Maui, 2:30 p.m., Golf Channel:

The whole thing starts again at Kapalua, with Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy back as the two-time defending champ here. Golf Channel has all four rounds through Sunday.

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College football: GoDaddy.com Bowl, Mobile, Ala.: Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (Ohio), 5 p.m., ESPN:

Go away. Go, go, go.

NHL: Kings vs. Nashville, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Jonathan Bernier has beaten these guys twice this year already. Why not throw him in the nets again tonight?

FRIDAY

College football: Cotton Bowl, Dallas: LSU vs. Texas A&M, 5 p.m., Channel 11:

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It’s the 75th anniversary of the very first game — remember back in ’37, when TCU beat Marquette? And it’s the 50th meeting between the two schools, so that really makes this contest … unique? And don’t forget, for this game at Cowboy Stadium (not the actual Cotton Bowl site), LSU was only No. 11 in the final BCS poll, not No. 10, due to a computer glitch.

NBA: Lakers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

The other night, Trevor Ariza scored 13 points in the third quarter of the Hornets’ win over the Wizards. It’s the most he has scored in one quarter since he had 13 in the fourth quarter on March 6, 2009 for the Lakers against the T’wolves.

NHL: Ducks vs. Columbus, Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime:

How long can the Ducks hold up without Ryan Getzlaf?

SATURDAY

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College football: BBVA Compass Bowl, Birmingham, Ala.: Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky, 9 a.m., ESPN:

We don’t need a compass to tell us what direction the bowl games are headed. South.

NHL: Kings vs. Columbus, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

The Blue Jackets, straddling the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, may have a similar record to the Kings’ but there’s about a 30-goal swings between the two teams in goals scored vs. goals allowed.

NFL playoffs: New Orleans at Seattle, 1:30 p.m., Channel 4; N.Y. Jets at Indianapolis, 5 p.m., Channel 4:

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The Jets’ reality show rolls on, and a Mark Sanchez-Peyton Manning matchup inside the dome promises to be memorable. Meanwhile, the Saints begin their title defense with a strange road trip. Really? They gotta go where? Common sense says don’t bet against Pete Carroll’s sub-.500 squad. The Charlie Whitehurst Miracle Story has begun.

SUNDAY

NFL playoffs: Baltimore at Kansas City, 10 a.m., Channel 2; Green Bay at Philadelphia, 1:30 p.m., Channel 11:

The Packers took care of the Eagles in Philly during Week 1, 27-20, even though they had fewer rushing and passing yards. Michael Vick came in for the injured Kevin Kolb and put up 16 of 24 passing, 175 yards, 1 TD, 0 picks and 11 carries for 103 yards.

College basketball: UCLA at USC, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

The Dance Force is with USC. As far as the stats: The Trojans are tied for 202nd in the NCAA in turnover ratio (minus-.4), while UCLA is tied for 230th (minus 1.0). Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Another number to consider: The Trojans are 11th in the nation in fouls committed per game (15.3). The Trojans won both matchups against the Bruins last season, but trail in the all-time series, 128-103.

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NBA: Lakers vs. New York, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:

At last, the Lakers get to see these extremely made-over 19-14 Knicks, but facing a week in which they’ll face San Antonio and Dallas before the Lakers, who are 9-1 against the Eastern Conference.

NBA: Clippers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime:

It won’t be close: When the Warriors edged the Bobcats 96-95 the other night, it was only their second one-point win in the last four seasons.

NHL: Ducks vs. San Jose, Honda Center, 5 p.m., KDOC:

The Sharks and Ducks have already split two meetings this year, but both were in San Jose.

College football: Fight Hunger Bowl, San Francisco: Nevada vs. Boston College, 6 p.m., ESPN:

Fight the proliferation of too many bowl games. Last year, it was sponsored by Emerald Nuts. Someone ate them all?

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