The International Olympic Committee has rejected a proposal to include a 3,000-meter run for women in the 1980 Games. The decision means that the 1,500 meters, introduced at the 1972 Olympics, remains the longest event for female runners, while men will continue to compete in not only the 1,500 but also the 5,000, 10,000 and the marathon. According to an IOC insider, one reason for the ruling was the fear that the 3,000 was "a little too strenuous" for women.
The argument blithely ignores the fact that women runners are competing in growing numbers—and without apparent ill effect—at distances up to and including marathons. The IOC action has been greeted with outrage by, among others, Dr. Joan Ullyot, a San Francisco physiologist who is one of the top U.S. marathoners. "I'm appalled and disgusted," she says. "The IOC is made up of old guys 50 years and maybe 50 miles behind the times."
Ullyot, who runs up to 80 miles a week, subscribes to the view that, if anything, women have "greater potential" for distance running than men. "A woman is lighter than a man, usually, and therefore her motor, the heart, is comparatively larger than his. She has more driving force. She has less muscle bulk to carry. Her body burns fat better. Notice how women do much better than men, relatively, in their first marathons."
July 11, 1977
In refusing to add a women's 3,000, the IOC was also keeping the Games from getting more unwieldy—or so another argument runs. Nevertheless, the 87-man (and zero-woman) IOC restored one event for the Moscow Games that was not on the Montreal program: the 50-kilometer walk for men.
THE EXCEPTIONS DISPROVE THE RULE
For all his gifts as a hitter, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Steve Garvey apparently is not much on spotting what economists call leading indicators. There Garvey was the other day, battling teammate Ron Cey and Cincinnati's George Foster for the National League RBI lead and telling a reporter, "I'd love to lead the league in RBIs. If I do that, or if Ron Cey or any other Dodger does, then our chances of winning it all are that much better. The RBI leader generally plays for the pennant winner."
Garvey's Rule applied well enough last season when Foster won the RBI title with 121 and the Reds took the pennant. Otherwise, you can pretty much forget it. During the past two decades only 11 of the 40 RBI leaders in the two leagues played for pennant winners. The single-season record for RBIs is held by the Chicago Cubs' Hack Wilson, who drove in 190 runs in 1930. The Cubs finished second, two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.
Two years have passed since three top golfers were struck by lightning during the Western Open. Up to the time they were hospitalized on June 27, 1975, Lee Trevino, Jerry Heard and Bobby Nichols had won a combined total of 34 major tournaments. Since then they have won a grand total of one—Trevino's victory last year in the Colonial. All three have been in severe slumps.
Is the lightning somehow responsible? Well, Trevino and Heard are both suffering from back ailments, which explains at least in part their over-par play. But Nichols is another matter. The Washington Post's Dave Kindred talked to him last week and found he has no physical complaints of any consequence. Nichols would not blame his poor performance on the lightning, but he admitted, "I do get jittery at times when I didn't before. I get very petrified if it starts getting dark on the course. I can't play at all if it's overcast or even if it's cloudy."
Nichols won a career-high $124,747 in 1974 and had earned nearly $50,000 in 1975 when the lightning struck. In the two troubled years since, he has won, all told, $18,065.66.
If you tend to think of baton twirlers as leggy coeds in spangled costumes, think again. The recently crowned Texas state men's champion and a contender in next month's nationals in Denver is Calvin Murphy, the Houston Rockets' pugnacious guard. Entering his first competition in 11 years, Murphy, a onetime high school and college twirler, dazzled the judges in the state meet with numbers like the Windmill and the California Bounce. The 5'9" Murphy, who has a history of punching out far bigger adversaries on the basketball court, says, "I think by now people have learned not to think of me as a sissy."
TAKEN DOWN A PEG
The Fourth National Open Cribbage Tournament (cribbage is that two-handed game with the board and little pegs) will be held in Raleigh, N.C. on Aug. 6, 7 and 8. The event is a rare hurrah in the U.S. for this venerable game, which, according to tradition, was founded by Sir John Suckling, the 17th century English poet who was as skilled at cards as he was at verse. When his reputation as a whist player made it hard for Sir John to get a game in that pastime, he invented cribbage. Alas, he soon became unbeatable in that, too, leaving so many opponents in the lurch (defeating them by more than 30 points) that he again had trouble getting a game.
In 1974 Nick Pond, the sports director of WRAL-TV in Raleigh and a cribbage addict, got an itch to play the game in a big way. So he launched the national tournament. He promoted it so well that players from 45 states are preparing to head for this year's renewal at Raleigh, where they will compete for a first prize of at least $1,500.
But, shades of Suckling, because he is the tournament's director, Pond, the man itching for some action, is ineligible to play and has yet to pick up his first crib.
It was only the second inning, yet many of the 13,119 fans in the Houston Astrodome suddenly rose and rushed for the exits. Fire? Terrorists' blimp? No, the San Francisco Giants' Willie McCovey, that evening's "designated strikeout victim," had just gone down swinging on a 1-and-2 pitch from Houston Astro righthander Dan Larson. And because McCovey struck out at a favorable moment, the whiff entitled everybody 18 and over to free beer for the rest of the evening.
Such mass exoduses have been occurring in the Dome since 1975, when the Astros began setting aside certain Friday night home games as Foamer Nights. At first they promised beer gratis anytime a Houston player homered during an even minute—7:42, 9:04, etc.—on the stadium's digital clock. Last year they added the designated-strikeout gimmick: free suds would also flow if a rival player selected in advance by Astro management fanned during an even minute.
Given all the stunts used over the years to fill the stands, let's hear it for a promotion calculated to empty them. Fans on Foamer Night are limited to one beer per visit, but can return as often as they wish through the eighth inning—as long as they are willing to stand in line each time. Giants broadcaster Lon Simmons swears that when McCovey got back to the hotel after his team's 6-5 loss, he found a Houston fan waiting for him. The fellow wanted to thank him for a "wunnerful, wunnerful evening."
ONE FOR THE PURISTS
For six years efforts have been under way to reintroduce the Atlantic salmon to its once-flourishing spawning grounds in the Connecticut River. Since then, an occasional returning salmon has been caught pretty much by accident—by lads using worms or striped-bass anglers tossing plugs. Credit Robert Dwyer Jr. of Greene, R.I. with catching one with a fly rod—the way it is meant to be done. Dwyer accomplished the feat in East Haddam, Conn., on a tributary of the Connecticut called, yes, the Salmon. He is, presumably, the first fisherman in this century—perhaps ever—to catch a salmon on the fly in those waters.
The Cosmos, New York's (New Jersey's? the universe's?) entry in the North American Soccer League, were at it again last week, drawing gratifying throngs in Vancouver and Los Angeles. This followed huge turnouts at home (East Rutherford, N.J.) the previous two Sundays: a record U.S. soccer crowd of 62,394 one week and 57,191 the next. All this had NASL executives making Pelé-like leaps around their offices. "It shows that soccer is here," crowed Dick Berg, general manager of the Dallas Tornado. "In a few years everybody in the league will be drawing like that."
If you are of a sufficiently dyspeptic nature, you can toss a wet blanket over people like Berg. In Rochester and Chicago, NASL franchises have been drawing crowds in the 5,000-a-game range. Los Angeles is a hotbed of youth soccer, yet until the Cosmos lured a crowd of 32,165 to the L.A. Coliseum Saturday afternoon, the hometown Aztecs were admitting to an average attendance of 8,366—at that, some 3,000 higher than the official turnstile count. The Cosmos were clearly a very special attraction, featuring Pelé and the newly acquired Franz Beckenbauer. As for those two big Sundays, the club was playing in a new stadium and the weather was splendid.
You can go on and on like this. Yet the fact is that a lot of people have been turning out for Cosmos games, as they are for NASL games in Tampa, San Jose and Bloomington, Minn. The league says that overall attendance is running 30% higher than last year, and notwithstanding the discrepancy in turnstile figures in Los Angeles, there is no evidence of anybody seriously papering the house. Best of all, crowds have been enthusiastic, even boisterous, about the action on the field. They seem to care. And that is a good sign.
BACK IN ACTION
Twelve-year-old Glenn Dunaway never got to finish the Richmond (Va.) Golf Association's junior tournament last year. He played only the opening round of the three-day event, shooting 85. Next day Glenn paused beside the railroad tracks paralleling the Laurel Golf Course to watch a friend putt. He was hit by an Amtrak train traveling 60 mph.
Glenn's right leg was almost torn off at the knee. He suffered severe internal injuries and it took a five-hour operation to save his life. Released from the hospital four months later, he was just starting to get around on crutches when another tragedy befell him. This time he was sitting on a sled in a neighbor's yard when an auto skidded on ice and hit him. He suffered a broken arm and fractures in both legs, and doctors feared he would never walk again. Glenn spent nearly three months in traction, but continued to fight back. His right leg is an inch shorter than the left and he faces more surgery, but he no longer needs a cane.
The other morning Glenn, now 13, teed off in the 1977 junior tournament, this time at the Country Club of Virginia. Chauffeured in a cart by his dad (a prohibition against carts was waived for him), he went all three rounds, shooting 90, 99 and 94. "I didn't play too good," he said.
We beg to differ, Glenn.
By way of promoting the three home games (two exhibition and one regular-season) they will play in Giants Stadium in New Jersey before moving into Shea Stadium, the New York Jets have been running TV commercials for what they call their "mini-season." The commercials list the opponents with admirable brevity: Eagles, Steelers, Colts.
Unfortunately, there has been some confusion about who the Eagles might be. One of the country's most popular rock groups bears that name, something a few people in the Jet ticket office learned only when excited rock fans started lighting up the switchboard. But then, the misunderstanding has proved educational all around. It seems that dozens of callers did not know that Eagles was also the name of a certain football team from Philadelphia.
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Russell, former Seattle SuperSonics coach, explaining why he had trouble applying the golden rule to his players: "I tried to treat them like me—and some of them weren't."
•Alan Bannister, Chicago White Sox shortstop, marveling over the torrid hitting of Rod Carew: "He's the only guy I know who can go 4 for 3."