Given a choice between going to the opera or hiking through the Blue Ridge, I usually prefer to watch a football game on television. Granted, you don't get the cultural appreciation of great music or the physical exhilaration of a brisk walk, but TV football allows the viewer the freedom of doing something else equally constructive at the same time, like snacking or watching a second game on an accompanying set.

Watching two TVs at once has afforded me the opportunity to compile the following guide, at a small fee, to the good, the bad and the ugly on the recent airwaves:

With These Fellows, You Just Don't Turn Down the Sound, You Take Back the TV Set: Our latest nomination for the worst college football broadcasting team, 1895 to the present -- Gary Sparber and Roman Gabriel, the brutally inept duo on the Atlantic Coast Conference network.

Maybe Someone at the Networks Should Take a Hint: During its Sept. 12 broadcast of the St. Louis Cardinals-New York Mets baseball game, NBC had a technical glitch and lost the audio for several minutes. Many viewers called or wrote the network, thanking it for an announcerless game.

The Good News Is That CBS Doesn't Do the Olympics: CBS Sports' Pan American Games coverage generally was lousy from start to finish, a disappointment for a network that routinely covers sporting events very well.

The Bad News Is That NBC Does Do the Olympics: NBC Sports' coverage of the world track and field championships, sort of a dress rehearsal for the 1988 Summer Games at Seoul, was filled with glitches -- some of them out of the network's control because it had to use Italian cameras. But commentator Missy Kane was under the network's control, so NBC must take the blame for her incessant, incomprehensible ramblings.

It Looks and Feels and Smells and Tastes and Sounds Like the Network: Kudos to WTTG-TV-5, which continues to produce high-quality productions on its preseason Redskins telecasts. "It's 90 percent Channel 5 people {on cameras and in production positions} who do it once or twice a year," said WTTG Sports producer Ernie Baur.

Attention, Howard Cosell, Larry King and Roy Firestone -- You Have a Colleague in Need: After baseball's all-star game went 13 innings and ended at 12:19 a.m. EDT, NBC's Bob Costas started his interview with MVP Tim Raines in the following fashion: "Tim, you've led off for Gary Carter, for Andre Dawson, for Hubie Brooks at various times. Tonight, the way it went, you're the leadoff man for David Letterman." Raines' logical response: "Well, that's true . . ."

To Tell the Truth, Redskins Style: Two radio stations tout "the inside story" of the Redskins but only one delivers -- WXTR-FM- 104.1 has General Manager Bobby Beathard, whose reports are informative and illuminating; WTOP-1500 has Coach Joe Gibbs, whose reports are little more than badly worded press releases.

And Now, For Something Unabashedly Shameless: Rick Walker, who masquerades as a sports reporter for WRC-TV-4, interviewed running back Timmy Smith at Redskin Park last month while Smith wore a baseball cap advertising Walker's Virginia restaurants.

Fire Barry MacKay and Spend the Money on an Extra Camera: CBS' otherwise solid U.S. Open tennis coverage was marred by two errors -- 1) the presence of commentator Barry MacKay, a walking, talking conflict of interest who runs a San Francisco tournament and then interviews players at the Open who he recruits for his tournament; 2) the comical final-day shots (from a single camera) of Martina Navratilova going for the mixed doubles title, leaving the other players and the rest of the court to our imagination.

He's the Next Dan Dierdorf and He Lives in Reston: By far the best Redskin on the air remains the personable Jeff Bostic, who works for WTTG-TV-5.

If NBC News Commentator John Chancellor Ever Calls in Sick, They'll Know Who Not to Call: NBC Sports' John Matuszak, commenting on the NFL strike on "NFL Live" Sept. 20: "What I'm worried about is the Donlans and the Upshaws, the people with political aspirations, getting caught up in their emotions and forgetting about . . . the players and the fans. If they forget about those people, we're in trouble . . . It's like Iran-Iraq -- only the peasants are going to lose, and I don't like that."

Did You Ever Consider the Possibility That Maybe, Just Maybe, They Left Out That Sprawling, Counter-Culture City on Purpose? Would You Want a Generation of Laid-Back, Sprout-Eating, Wine-Cooler Lovers to Determine What Your Children Watch on TV?: When Nielsen released its first ratings for ABC's "Monday Night Football" opener Sept. 14 between the Bears and the Giants, it forgot to include the nation's No. 2 viewing market -- Los Angeles. With L.A. figured in, the rating went from 21.8 to 23.1.