As I anticipated in a recent column, the networks are taking a page from Mad magazine spokesman Alfred E. Neuman in regard to the NFL lockout.

As in “What, me worry?”

ESPN was the latest to downplay the threat of missed games, with exec VP John Skipper saying during Tuesday’s presentation, “They’re gonna play football. I don’t know when they’re gonna play, but at some point, they’re gonna play football.”

Until then, please enjoy women’s soccer and extreme skateboarding. It’s the next best thing.

These affairs tend to be sunny and positive, but there’s a fine line between being upbeat and sticking your collective heads in the sand. After all, the owners just won a round in their legal battle that threatens to drag on the court jockeying right up to training camp. And somehow, I don’t think “HERoics” — ESPN’s new series on women’s soccer stars — will draw quite as well as Dallas vs. Chicago.

Unfortunately, all the networks can do is watch — and hope. And, apparently, keep clicking their heels together and hoping to be back in Kansas, only this time, in pads and full color.