China and Japan announced support last week for President Carter's threatened boycott of the Moscow Olympics, bringing to more than 40 the number of nations the Administration claims to have in its corner, either publicly or privately. State Department officials expect that the number eventually will reach as many as 60 countries, and 81-year-old Douglas Roby, one of the two U.S. members of the International Olympic Committee, predicts that if that many nations do indeed stay away from Moscow, the Games "probably" will be canceled.
Roby, who has been an IOC member for 28 years, believes that canceling the Summer Games is preferable to moving them because "holding some shoddy replacement would embarrass the entire Olympic movement." But Roby also implies that an IOC decision to scrap the Games would come only after the Olympic committees of a substantial number of the 136 countries recognized by the organization heed their government's wishes and formally serve notice that they are staying home.
Should Carter's proposal to move, postpone or cancel the Games be put to a vote by the IOC's 89 individual delegates in the meantime—say, at this week's IOC meetings in Lake Placid—both Roby and the other American IOC member, Julian Roosevelt, indicate that they probably would cast ballots against it. In other words, while Carter appears to be making inroads with foreign governments, he can't even count on the support of the two American delegates to the IOC. "I'm a patriotic American, but it's kind of a problem," says Roby. "We have a strong rule in the IOC forbidding us to yield to political intervention."
Other Olympic developments:
•President Carter dispatched a new diplomatic troubleshooter, Muhammad Ali, of all people, to Africa Sunday to try to persuade black African leaders that an Olympic boycott would be an appropriate response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. No sooner did Ali arrive, however, than he told reporters in Tanzania, startlingly, "If I find out I'm wrong, I'm going to go back to America and cancel the whole trip." Ironically, black African officials only recently withdrew their threat to boycott the Moscow Games if a tour of South Africa by Britain's Lions rugby team begins as scheduled in May. The Africans now are threatening to punish the British for such a tour by seeking to scuttle the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia.
•Since the inauguration of the modern Olympics in 1896, the Games usually have been opened by the heads of state of the host countries. Those held in the U.S. are exceptions. The opening of the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis was presided over not by Theodore Roosevelt but by former Missouri Governor David R. Francis. In 1932 President Hoover left it to New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt to open the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid and to Vice-President Charles Curtis to do likewise at the Summer Games in Los Angeles. And in 1960, Vice-President Nixon, not Dwight Eisenhower, opened the Winter Games in Squaw Valley. Last week the White House announced that because of his preoccupation with events in Iran and Afghanistan—but no doubt also because he might find it a trifle awkward—President Carter will not open the Lake Placid Olympics but has deputized Vice-President Mondale to do the honors instead.
•The U.S. Senate has passed a resolution endorsing Greece as the permanent site of the Summer Olympics, a proposal previously advanced by Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm J. Fraser. Greek Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis has also called for "the revival of the Olympic Games in their ancient cradle," arguing that this would somehow help the Olympic movement "rid itself of all those false elements that have gradually accumulated and threatened it with decay." IOC spokesman Alain Coupat replies that rotating the Games to various sites has the virtue of exposing athletes to "different civilizations and cultures." The trouble with this argument is that a given athlete only rarely competes in more than one or two Olympics. The only people who can count on savoring different civilizations and cultures are members of the press, well-heeled fans, national Olympic administrators—and, of course, IOC officials.
ME TARZAN, YOU TROJANE
Entire books are given over to suggested names for Baby, but those newborns of sports, women's college teams, have no such help when it comes to choosing nicknames. Some schools, though, are resourceful. Inspired by the fact that its men's teams are the Trojans, Indiana's Taylor University calls its women the Trojanes while members of the women's track team at Louisiana State, whose male athletes are the Fighting Tigers, are known as the Ben-Gals. The other day the Ben-Gals ran against Georgia, whose women are the Bulldog Babes.
Somewhat more prosaically, the University of Massachusetts simply converted its men's nickname, Minutemen, into Minutewomen, while St. Peter's (N.J.) turned Peacocks into Peahens. Fans at Angelo (Texas) State now cheer both the Rams and Rambelles and those at Pittsburgh back the Panthers and Pantherettes. Several schools use "Kittens," as a suffix: Northwest Missouri State has Bears and Bearkittens, Thiel College has Tomcats and Tomkittens. The practice of sticking the word "Lady" in front of a traditional nickname has resulted in the Lady Vols (Tennessee), Lady Dons (San Francisco) and Lady Seminoles (Florida State). William Penn College refers to its teams as the Statesmen and Lady Statesmen, having apparently rejected the more logical Stateswomen, but Louisiana's Centenary College draws the line on this particular usage, calling its teams the Gents and the Ladies. "How can you have a team named the Lady Gents?" asks Nico Van Thyn, the school's sports information director.
The College of the Ozarks plays it cute; its teams are the Mountaineers and—are you ready?—the Mountaindears. Mercer University has the Bears and Teddy Bears, Central Missouri State the Mules and Jennies and Northland College the Lumberjacks and Lumberjills. Anybody who finds all this cloying will be relieved to know that a number of schools use the same nickname for men's and women's teams. Ohio's Heidelberg College, for one, conveys the impression that the question of a nickname for women's teams is not particularly important. Its male and female teams are both known as the Student Princes.
SPEAKING OF KNICKNAMES...
During her four years at South Carolina's tiny Francis Marion College, Pearl Moore scored 4,061 points, making her the leading alltime collegiate basketball scorer, male or female. Now a flashy, crowd-pleasing rookie in the Women's Basketball League, the 5'7" Moore is averaging 15.7 points for the New York Stars, whose 18-4 record is the WBL's best. The other night, reporting Pearl's 32-point spree in a 96-95 win over the Houston Angels, Len Berman, a sports-caster for New York's WCBS-TV, hung a nickname on her that can't help but stick: "Pearl the Earl."
No sooner is Super Bowl XIV out of the way than Super Bowl XV is making news—and the news is worrisome. It seems that when New Orleans officials made their successful bid last spring to host the 1981 Super Bowl, they were under the impression that they would have to provide hotel accommodations only for a couple of days leading up to the Jan. 25 game. But the NFL now has let it be known that many Super Bowl goers will be arriving earlier than that. Trouble is, the Associated Equipment Distributors are holding a convention in New Orleans during Super Bowl Week, tying up 3,500 rooms in the Hilton, Marriott, Fairmont and other hotels until as late as the Friday before Super Sunday. The Louisiana Tourist Commission is now engaged in the delicate business of trying to free some of those rooms.
Go, NFL! Beat the AED!
THE PERILS OF RETIREMENT
During his eight years in the violence-plagued National Hockey League, Ken Dryden never missed a game because of an on-ice injury. But then, neither did Dryden ever stray from his ordained position of goaltender, in which capacity he starred for the perennial-champion Montreal Canadiens. Having retired at the end of last season, Dryden recently made so bold as to doff his goalie's mask and take the ice as a defenseman in a pickup game in Ottawa. Trying to make like Bobby Orr, he moved to intercept a pass only to have a teammate's stick catch him in the face, cutting his right eye.
Dryden's injury kept him flat on his back in a darkened room for three days. Fortunately, the eye now appears to be all right, and Lynda Dryden, hoping her husband has learned a lesson, has told him, sternly, "Stick to your net."
ANYONE FOR CHECKERS?
One way to keep the kids occupied on airplanes is to let them play with the electronic games they got for Christmas, right? As Time Inc. lawyer Mary Gibbons discovered the other morning, not necessarily. Traveling on United Airlines Flight 161 from New York to Denver, Gibbons, a kid at heart, was contentedly playing her Pulsonic II baseball game when a flight attendant urgently asked her to stop. "Somebody was using an electronic game on another of our flights and it messed up the automatic pilot," the attendant explained. "The plane veered and could have gone 1,000 miles off course."
Certain electronic devices emit signals that can indeed interfere with airplane navigational and communications systems. The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits passengers from turning on portable radios, television sets and CBs during flights but allows the use of tape recorders, hearing aids, pacemakers and electric shavers. Airlines are empowered to ban other devices at their discretion, and one FAA official, Jack Flavin, says that because some electronic games contain local oscillators that emit signals they might well cause navigational problems, depending on where the passenger is sitting.
For now, some airlines are leaving it to aircraft personnel to watch for indications that electronic games are causing problems. However, United has banned the toys outright and so has Delta. A United spokesman, Chuck Novak, confirms that a Denver-Omaha flight recently went off course, apparently because a passenger was playing an electronic game, and he says that this probably was the incident to which the attendant on Gibbons' flight was referring. But Novak adds that the pilot quickly detected the interference and corrected the navigational error. "There was no possible way the plane could have gone 1,000 miles off course," he says.
CAUGHT IN A LINEUP
During the college basketball season, the New York Daily News publishes point spreads compiled by syndicated columnist Jim McCarthy. For a long time, News staffers suspected that the New York Post was lifting McCarthy's line more or less intact and running it as its own. The other morning the News ran what amounted to a zone trap by sneaking the following entry into McCarthy's listings:
Murray St. 5½ Murdoch St.
Sure enough, those same two teams appeared that very afternoon in the Post's line. Aha! Murray State actually was playing Morehead State. There is no such school as Murdoch State and probably won't be unless one is founded by Post Publisher Rupert Murdoch.
THEY SAID IT
•Harry Neale, coach of the Vancouver Canucks: "Last season we couldn't win at home, and this season we can't win on the road. My failure as a coach is that I can't think of anyplace else to play."
•Eleanor Holm, a gold medalist in swimming at the 1932 Games, when asked by The Washington Post's Jane Leavy about an Olympic boycott: "I want to tell you something, hon. I'd think twice about going to Russia. Of course, it's easy for me to say, an old broad who's had her day."
•Bill Fitch, Boston Celtic coach: "I don't have an ulcer. I'm a carrier. I give them to other people."