KILLING A GOOD BILL WITH KINDNESS
Five members of a House Judiciary subcommittee last week dealt the U. S. Olympic movement a stunning blow, voting unanimously to strike from HR. 12626 (commonly known as the Olympic Sports Bill) an appropriation for $30 million to institute several important changes in the shape and direction of amateur sports in this country. The money was deleted from the bill—which had already sailed through the Senate (SCORECARD, May 8)—on a motion by Thomas N. Kindness (R., Ohio), who expressed skepticism that this would be a onetime request from the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The bill now goes back to the full Judiciary Committee, then to the House floor, and finally to a House-Senate conference committee to iron out differences in the two bills, which at this point are considerable. The fate of the $30 million—$18 million of which was earmarked for the reorganization of the amateur sports bureaucracy, the other $12 million to go to a badly needed sports training program—will be determined when Congress returns from its recess after Labor Day.
The subcommittee chairman, George Danielson (D., Calif.), says, "There is a 50-50 chance some money, like the $18 million part, may be restored by the full committee."
August 27, 1978
The USOC has steadfastly insisted that the bill represented a request for what it called "seed money," and that the Olympic Committee will never show up on Capitol Hill with its hand out. "I can't understand why the subcommittee can't appreciate that the financing is inseparable from the rest of the bill," says USOC Executive Director F. Don Miller. "The money is absolutely imperative to the successful reorganization of amateur sports in this country."
One purpose of the bill was to put an end to the constant jurisdictional bickering between amateur sanctioning bodies like the AAU and the NCAA, both of which belong to the 43-member USOC. If nothing else, this surprising legislative defeat has drawn those fractious bodies closer together than ever. "We've never fought for anything as hard," says USOC Director of Communications Bob Paul. "Working to get the money reinstated in this bill is the first time we've ever had all our organizations aligned behind a single effort."
AU REVOIR, SAM
Since wily old Sam Pollock became general manager of the Montreal Canadiens 13 years ago, the team has won nine Stanley Cups, including the last three. Two weeks ago Peter and Edward Bronfman sold the Canadiens to Molson Breweries for a reported $23 million, which would indicate that Pollock's 55,000 shares of stock—roughly 5½% of the team—were worth about $1.25 million. Now Pollock, 52, is telling friends that he will retire from the Canadiens before the start of the upcoming NHL season. When Sam goes, the gap between Montreal and the other 16 teams in the NHL will close considerably—and Canadiens' stock may not be quite so valuable.
Eleven years ago the Federal government became concerned enough about the dwindling alligator population to declare the reptile endangered, thus making all hunting and trapping of alligators illegal. Months ago, however, the Department of the Interior demoted the alligator to the "threatened" list in Florida and certain Other key areas in the South, which means that instead of being relocated in the Everglades and other unpopulated areas, "nuisance alligators" are killed by state-licensed trappers. According to game officials, over one two-month period 580 nuisance alligators were destroyed. Bristled George Campbell, head of the Southwest Florida Regional Alligator Association, "So a law finally works and they decide to take it off the books. That's like doing away with the 55-miles-per-hour law because it's working too well; it's saving people's lives."
The Federal Register of July 25 also reports that the Fish and Wildlife Service has deregulated the Mexican duck, and will provide it with "a more appropriate level of protection" under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. You may not be concerned about the fate of the Mexican duck, but The Washington Post, conscience of a grateful nation, is. In a recent editorial, the Post reported the following:
"This [Fish and Wildlife Service's decision]...was based on the discovery that the great majority of Mexican ducks (Anas diazi) have been interbreeding with the common mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and have thus protected themselves by producing the heartier duck (Anas platyrhynchos diazi).
"The service found that '...all presently known methods of karyotyping, allozymic variation analysis and protein analysis would not provide sufficiently reliable insight as to the taxonomic relationship between diazi and platyrhynchos,' and that 'most of these methods have great difficulty in separating congeneric, let alone conspecific, taxa.' We agree."
And so do we. We think.
HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR
Unlike most human beings, horses are fairly finicky about what they will put in their mouths. A bag of oats, a jug of water—it's easy to see why Omar Khayyàm didn't write a lot of poems about horses. Give a horse a carrot, or even a wormy old apple, and he's happy, but just try to get one to split an order of truffles and scrod with you, and see what it gets you. Heartache.
Lee's Best is the name of Trainer-Driver Virgil White's prize pacer, a 6-year-old gelding that White is campaigning at Louisville Downs. The horse eats oats and carrots, but what really sends him is to park a good-sized wad of chewing tobacco between his cheek and gum.
White was grooming Lee's Best one day not long ago, and when he reached for his pouch of tobacco to load up himself, the horse began nuzzling the pack. "I just took a good fingerful out and handed it to him," says White, "and he just ate it up. Now when I get a pack out or have it anywhere near him, he expects a chew of tobacco. It makes no difference to him whether it's Red Man or Union Workman. That's the two I normally chew. Whatever I've got, well, he's happy with it."
Lee's Best politely swallows the tobacco, and though he may drool occasionally, he never spits. Nevertheless, visitors to the backstretch have shown great interest in the horse's penchant for tobacco. "It kind of fascinates them," says White. "I tell them to step back because the chewing isn't so bad, but when he starts spitting you have to watch out."
Since White acquired the horse in a $4,000 claiming race last March, he has been to the post 27 times, won eight races and finished in the money 16 more times. But White is careful never to give Lee's Best his chaw within 24 hours of a race, because if nicotine shows up in the post-race urine test, White can be fined or suspended, and could lose his racing license. Besides, it takes that long for the horse to get the stains off his teeth in case he needs to have his picture taken in the winner's circle.
HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
An amateur soccer player whose toupee slipped during a game sued its manufacturer in a Welsh court, claiming he had suffered pain and embarrassment. The judge was told that when Norman Bolland, a 32-year-old butcher from Overton, headed the ball, it pushed his "dream head of hair" over his eyes. On hearing the laughter of the other players, he ripped up the toupee on the spot. The toupee-makers agreed to an out-of-court settlement of ¬¨¬®¬¨¬£355, the only condition being that Bolland give them back the pieces.
An event well worth noting—for a number of good reasons—took place at Syracuse University last week. It was called the Empire State Games—in effect, New York State's own cut-down version of the Olympics. Remarkably, the Games drew 4,817 participants, all legal residents of New York. That total, believe it or not, made the Empire State Games the largest Olympic-type amateur competition ever held in the U.S.—including the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles (which had 1,408 participants), the 1932 Winter Games at Lake Placid (307) and the recent National Sports Festival at Colorado Springs (2,165).
Even more significant than the number of athletes in Syracuse is the fact that they were only the crème de la crème of the Empire State competition—finalists selected after a series of statewide eliminations that began late last spring involving 50,000 participants. They ranged in age from eight to 76 and they competed in a 21-sport menu of events, Olympic in flavor, ranging from water polo to Greco-Roman wrestling, from team handball to field hockey.
Such a massive grass-roots effort to inspire wide and intensive interest in the sometimes esoteric events of the Olympics—and to spotlight potential Olympians while they are still in embryonic form—is, of course, routine behind the Iron Curtain. But this is the first time anything of this scope has been attempted in the U.S. True, the Empire State Games were not cheap: they cost $625,000, which was appropriated by the state legislature. Yet it is hard to think of a better way to spend tax money on sports than through a program that involves so many thousands in such a variety of games. It is said that last week's event was only the first of a series of such games to be held in New York. With any luck, it is also only the first of a similar series in all of the other 49.
Over the years, the use of the drug Lasix, a diuretic used in sports primarily to control bleeding in horses, has attracted little attention at the nation's racetracks. However, it has been suspected of masking other drugs, and Maryland trainer Ray Vogelman Jr. feels it is high time to determine whether Lasix indeed does have this effect. "They're sure using something in Maryland," Vogelman says. "They're covering up something; something is wrong when I can take a good horse to New York to win a $25,000 pot, then come down here and have the horse's socks knocked off in a race with an $8,000 purse." The use of Lasix is permitted in Maryland but prohibited in New York.
Dr. Kenneth Fox, a Maryland veterinarian, disagrees with Vogelman, calling his suspicion about Lasix' masking powers "ridiculous and a hell of an accusation." Fox says, "The postrace urine tests are so accurate that drugs can be detected even with a 40-1 dilution."
Robert O. Baker, an owner of standardbreds and thoroughbreds, recently completed a study of the use of drugs in racing for the Illinois Hooved Animal Humane Society, which was skeptical about the use of Lasix. "According to Dr. Robert L. Hamlin, in a paper presented before the American Association of Equine Practitioners," he wrote, "one of the factors for...increased performance is that many trainers deprive a horse of water and feed for a good period of time before a race, and this practice combined with the administration of Lasix can cause a horse to run mildly dehydrated, and thus, the horse is carrying less weight.... Dr. Hamlin further stated that it is ludicrous to consider that the compound is used only to prevent [bleeding]. It is obvious to me that the compound is given either because the veterinarian or the trainer or both consider the compound to facilitate performance."
As for Lasix' ability to mask other drugs, Baker writes, "According to...authorities, Lasix will mask not only Butazolidin but even many other more dangerous drugs. The University of Kentucky, for example, found that Lasix can make the presence of powerful drugs like Methadone (narcotic analgesic similar to morphine) virtually undetectable."
Until the racing industry determines the truth about these important matters, its product will never be completely above suspicion.
HE SAID IT
•Jim Dickey, new Kansas State football coach: "Kansas State hasn't won a Big Eight championship in 40 years. I told them if I don't win a championship in that same length of time, I'll resign."