Heidi and the Rolex Kentucky

A video about the cultural impact of “the Heidi Game.” Look – there’s one of my former bosses. Really! Hiya, Chet!

How did you like that hockey game Sunday afternoon?

I bet you were all kicked back to watch the Rolex Kentucky, but the Stanley Cup playoffs went into double — then triple — overtime.

The good news is that, if you didn’t know about the Rolex on TV and are ticked off at me because I didn’t tell you in time, then there’s no need to get upset. You didn’t miss a thing. Except for the Ducks vs the Red Wings.

Just be glad that NBC didn’t cut away because the hockey fans would have been livid. Just like the football fans in 1968.

NBC, of all the networks, knows the “once bitten, twice shy” thang.

The Heidi Bowl

On a Sunday afternoon in 1968, football fans were watching a late-season Raiders/Jets game.

NBC was contractually obligated to air a special children’s movie presentation at 7 pm. Announcers reportedly warned the audience that the game would be interrupted to start the movie at the scheduled time.

Sure enough, they did. Right on time.

TVs across America that had been tuned to the big game now showed Heidi and her grandfather on the mountain ridge, instead of Broadway Joe Namath calling the plays.

The audience howled and went straight to the phones. And television history was made.

The game is known forever as “The Heidi Bowl” or “The Heidi Game” and is the dreaded nightmare of TV sports schedulers ever since. Thanks for the memory jogger, I Remember JFK.

Heidi is the reason why, at the local TV station in Kentucky where I began my short television career, we had a direct line into master control. We called it “The Bat Phone.”

Thirty years later, my engineer husband still remembers the number to “The Bat Phone.” (He worked there, too. And he didn’t know that number to call me, either.)

On Sunday, we had settled in to watch the Rolex, but we watched hockey instead. With a special viewpoint.

No More Heidis

As the hour filled with white arena ice, we knew that they wouldn’t “pull a Heidi.”

No, sirree, they didn’t. At the end of the hour, we heard when our show would air.

And we couldn’t have asked for a better alternate time slot.

So, just when IS the Rolex going to be on?

The highlights show from the 2009 Rolex Kentucky will air at 3:30 pm on Saturday, May 16.

Right before the live broadcast of The Preakness Stakes.

Of course, the usual disclaimers apply. Check your local listings. Your mileage may vary.

Still, that’s the same time that ESPN’s “Day at the Preakness” coverage is on. But that’s what DVRs are for.

It’s better that we well-behaved equestrian sports fans were the ones in a snit Sunday instead of hockey fans.

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