A long, long time ago, even before "Who's The Boss?" came on the air, sports wasn't big business in America. Then came Babe Ruth and network television and the NFL and instant replay and Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell, and poof!, there's Alberto Salazar and Dick Button shouting at us about shin splints and triple axels.

So nowadays, sports is big business, courtesy of sports television. Sports television is the single most pervasive and sweeping element in American life today (other than coin-op laundries and 7-Elevens). And I've always had a rule -- if they're going to make the effort to show all these sports, then I'm going to make the effort to watch them. Not that I just sit there idly with potato chips in hand; between bites, I take notes to share with others, so here's the latest sights and sounds from the world of sports broadcasting:

No, No, No, No, George, One Thousand Times No -- It's NOT Legitimate: After WRC-TV-4 sportscaster George Michael completed the first part of a two-part series on pro wrestling, anchorman Jim Vance said, "What amazes me is that {ex-champion} Lou Thesz actually sat up there and talked about it like it was real, like it was legitimate." Michael's retort: "It is. It's as legitimate as the Bullets getting blown out by the Pistons three in a row, folks."

'And the Miller Lite Player of the Game Is Bobby Bizzell, Who Had 3 Hits and 3 RBI, All Coming on the Same Day That His Parents Let Him Cross the Street Alone for the First Time': In Coral Gables, Fla., Little League baseball is broadcast once a week to 8,500 cable households. The city-operated Network Sunshine uses three cameras to follow the 8-to-14-year-old boys, and announcers Dennis Green and Hal Hyman call the action from a makeshift broadcast booth atop the public rest rooms in center field.

The Way It Was, Thankfully, Is Again The Way It Is: After two years on NBC Radio, "Monday Night Football" returns to CBS Radio this fall, marking a reprise for the outstanding Jack Buck-Hank Stram broadcasting team.

Attention, Classical Music Stations -- Beware of Any New Program Directors Wearing Football Helmets: In New York, WHN-AM is changing its call letters to WFAN and switching from country music to an all-sports format. And in Denver, KRXY-AM dropped its top-40 format several months ago and now, as KMPT, does sports only from 7 a.m. to midnight weekdays.

On a Clear Day, You Can't Always See Clearwater: Because of rain, the Colonial National Invitation golf tournament had to have a 36-round finale on May 17. CBS wired the seventh through ninth holes at the last minute (in addition to its planned coverage of holes 10 through 18), but winner Keith Clearwater -- who played the back nine first in his final round -- didn't show up on the telecast until his final three holes.

That's Why He's George Michael and Nobody Else Is: After the Celtics' remarkable, 108-107 playoff victory over the Pistons last Tuesday (featuring Larry's Bird's incredible game-winning steal and assist), all four local sports anchors showed extensive highlights on the late-night news. But only WRC-TV-4's George Michael let the tape run uninterrupted for the game's final 15 seconds -- a small gift to viewers, who got to see the improbable ending unfold without any cutaways to coaches or any precious moments edited out. 'Or Better Yet, Have You Been Refused Service in Any Restaurant?': During the Redskins' minicamp, WUSA-TV-9 sportscaster James Brown interviewed rookie Brian Davis, a white cornerback trying to prove himself at a position dominated by blacks in recent years. Brown asked Davis, "Do you feel like Jackie Robinson did 40 years ago?" As Far as Horse Sense Goes, Mr. Ed Gets the Edge Here: In ABC's otherwise outstanding Triple Crown horse racing telecasts, one element stands out negatively -- Lynn Swann. He's gone from a superb football player to a mediocre football TV analyst to a clueless, completely-out-of-his-element racing interviewer. High Quality, if Not High Profile: He's as unheralded, unnoticed and unappreciated as any network play-by-play sportscaster, but we just thought CBS' Verne Lundquist deserved a nod for being such a consistent, no-nonsense performer. Wasn't That Glenn Brenner We Saw Monkeying Around With the Channel 4 Remote Equipment?: Before the Bullets-Pistons playoff game April 29, WUSA-TV-9's Glenn Brenner was at Capital Centre, where he did a live interview with Bullets Coach Kevin Loughery at 6:35 p.m. during the early news. At 6:45 p.m., from his WRC-TV-4 studio, George Michael also tried to do an interview with Loughery, but they couldn't hook up because of microphone problems at Capital Centre.