Picture, if you can, the whistle, blowing during a basketball game, the referee asking each palyer a question and points for correct answeres being added to the figure on the scoreboard.

That is what happens during football, basketball and baseball contests supervised by Direction Sports, a Los Angeles-based outfit whose work with youngsters aged 12 to 16 is conducted successfully in 14 cities.

The object is to use a child's natural interest in athletics to motivate him in such less-glamorous areas as mathematics and history. Pregame chalk talks and the point-scoring quizzes are largely based on the sport being played.

A glimpse of Direction Sports in action will be available Thursday at 4 p.m. (WTOP-TV-9) in Washington, when "Razzmatazz." the CBS news magazine for youngsters, devotes a segment to the national playoffs held here last year.

"We've been in operation for 11 years, but this is really the first time we've had the opportunity to tell anybody," said Tulley Brown, the man who dreamed up Direction Sports in 1986 in an effort to reverse the innercity youngster's burgeoning disinterest in academics.

"We tried to show youngsters that they have to be able to score points with their minds," Brown said. "We want them to know that learning can be just as exciting as sports. We use the team as the hub and take the strength that comes from team unity to develop a kind's sense of power, to show how he can positively affect parents and teachers, to build goals and achieve them."

Washington is not one of the cities involved in the program and Brown recalls his effort to implement it there in 1976-77 as "one of my returns to childhood, to my days on a merry-to-round. I taked to Mayor (Walter E.) Washington and people in the recreation department and I just got sent back and forth, from one city office to another. Nothing ever happened.

"When we held seminars, nobody came from Washington, although they had been promised. I haven't had the opportunity to talk to the new mayor, but I'd love to have a simple pilot program of 100 sixth-graders started there."

That was the way it all began in Buffalo, where the program was recently expanded from one center to 10. More than 3,000 children are involved nationally and Brown said he has been contacted by 17 cities, including Fredericksburg, Va., in the last few weeks since the TV exposure inspired a mailer describing the program.