Boycott or not, the U.S.' top swimmers will still be taking part this summer in Olympic-level competition of sorts—by proxy. After the U.S. Olympic Committee voted to boycott the Moscow Games, swim officials canceled the Olympic Trials scheduled for last month in Austin, Texas and decided to choose an honorary Olympic team based on the results of the U.S. Outdoor Championships in Irvine, Calif. That meet then was moved up by two weeks, so that it now will begin July 29, two days after the final swimming event in Moscow. Swimmers in Irvine thus will have the winning Olympic times to shoot at and, if possible, to improve upon.
By way of motivating them to do exactly that, some U.S. coaches have been invoking the case of Jonty Skinner, a University of Alabama sprinter who had to sit out the 1976 Games because he was a native of South Africa, a country barred from Olympic competition. Skinner watched on TV as Jim Montgomery of the U.S. won the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle in Montreal in a world-record 49.99, then eclipsed Montgomery's performance two weeks later at the AAU nationals in Philadelphia with a stunning 49.44, still the world record. Skinner pointedly called the Philadelphia meet "my personal Olympics."
But the Skinner precedent is an imperfect one. Now an assistant coach at Alabama, Skinner notes that while he had long since resigned himself to missing the Olympics—and had begun gearing himself to the Philadelphia meet more than a year in advance—the boycott came as a jolt to American athletes. "I knew I was never going to get the chance to compete in the Olympics, and a lot of my career was pointed to other goals," he says. "But with the boycott, the athletes' incentive, drive and sacrifice have been taken away from them, and it's very difficult to compensate for their dreams in another meet."
July 13, 1980
Still, Skinner allows that part of his motivation in smashing Montgomery's record was "antagonism for the political situation" that had kept him out of the Olympics, a feeling that some American swimmers in Irvine will no doubt also harbor. To further rouse them to a competitive pitch, meet officials say that before each event, they will put on the scoreboard the winning time from the Moscow Olympics.
BAD DEAL FOR THE CARDS
St. Louis players occupied positions 1, 3, 7, 9 and 10 in the National League batting race, but when balloting for the All-Star Game ended, none of the hot-hitting Cardinals was in the starting lineup. The slighted Cards were First Baseman Keith Hernandez (.335), Shortstop Garry Templeton (.322), Rightfielder George Hendrick (.311), Catcher Ted Simmons (.305) and Third Baseman Ken Reitz (.300), all of whom also happen to be solid defensively. Templeton, Hernandez and Simmons placed third at their postions and Reitz sixth, while Hendrick was only 11th among outfielders.
The Cardinals' Forgotten Five suffered from the fact that they were long on performance but short on national publicity. One Cardinal in exactly the opposite situation was teammate Bobby Bonds, who was hitting .192 with four home runs yet placed an undeservedly high 12th among outfielders. "It's a joke, just a popularity contest," admitted Bonds, who leads the league only in honesty. "I'm right behind Hendrick. I don't even belong on the ballot."
ENDANGERED PANOPLIED PACHYDERMS
Imagine the circus without elephants and chimpanzees. According to officials of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, it just might happen. The worldwide population of Asian elephants, the species favored by The Greatest Show on Earth, has dwindled to 10,000, and because they are on the U.S. Interior Department's endangered-species list, there are strict limits on their importation. What's more, the chimpanzees imported for the circus are a "threatened" species and are similarly controlled. And under the Animal Welfare Act of 1976, special care is required for marine animals, a category construed to include polar bears. Ringling Brothers has secured a stay of that law until 1982, at which time it will be obliged to find or build a pool for polar bears in each city it visits.
In a story enumerating these and other problems affecting the circus, the Los Angeles Times' Jim Mann said that even the Agriculture Department officials who enforce the marine-animal regulations acknowledge their unfairness; after all, even in their natural habitat, polar bears spend much of their time on land. The protection of elephants and chimps is another matter. Allowing that the government restrictions make it difficult for circuses to import animals, one Interior Department aide told Mann, "They were supposed to.... You're dealing with a resource that's having trouble surviving."
To prevent the disappearance of animals from the circus, Ringling Brothers has started an elephant-breeding program in Florida. It is also urging Washington to ease import restrictions on the grounds that circus animals serve an educational purpose. Thus, the Ringling Brothers program contains the following note: "The circus plays a unique role in the education of millions of Americans regarding the need to preserve and protect the world's vanishing animals."
NO TIME FOR REMORSE
For the University of Oregon, it was a rough several days. First, the Eugene Register-Guard reported that the school, one of the institutions hardest hit by the burgeoning college athletic scandal, had declared ineligible seven football players including starting Quarterback Reggie Ogburn and his backup, Andrew Page, for receiving "extra benefits"—namely, airline tickets—through a secret account at a local travel agency that dealt with the athletic department. Although the university confirmed the disciplinary action, its housecleaning turned out to be less than wholehearted. The school's faculty athletic representative, Wendell Basye, said he expected the NCAA to reinstate the players because they had made at least "partial recompense" for the tickets. Obviously hoping for the same thing, Associate Athletic Director Ed Swartz expressed "a little bit of shock" that news of the ineligibility had come out before the NCAA had a chance to review the case. Significantly, neither Basye nor Swartz said whether the "recompense" had come before or after the revelation that the secret account existed.
The gingerly handling of the situation suggested to some observers that university officials had hoped to hush up the ineligibility of the seven players so as not to hurt the sale of season tickets, which had begun just a few days earlier. And after the news broke, the Oregon coach, Rich Brooks, did his best to prevent an erosion of ticket sales. Betraying little visible remorse over the apparent rules violations by the seven players, Brooks seized the occasion instead to accuse newspapers covering Oregon's scandal of having somehow "slandered" his team. Of an ongoing Lane County grand jury probe into possible athletic department wrongdoing, Brooks said, "It's a matter of how far some people will go to prove a point. Some people just don't want to let it die."
Brooks was right. Early this week Oregon's athletic woes were compounded when three more of Brooks' players, Tailback Eugene Young, Fullback Terrance Jones and Defensive Back Joe Figures, were arraigned in Lane County Circuit Court on theft charges contained in secret indictments returned by the grand jury on June 5. The charges involved the alleged misuse of a telephone credit card belonging to an assistant basketball coach.
LIGHTING UP THE SKIES
The Indians drew 73,096 fans for a pre-Independence Day game against the Yankees in Cleveland Stadium Thursday night, baseball's biggest crowd in seven years. The night before, 58,980 fans, the largest turnout ever in the minor leagues, jammed Denver's Mile High Stadium to watch an American Association showdown between the hometown Bears and the Omaha Royals. Both throngs were swollen by the lure of postgame fireworks, but the baseball was by no means incidental. Indian fans had a lot to holler about as Wayne Garland shut out the Yankees 7-0, while Denver entertained its fans by overcoming a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1, the decisive run scoring on a bases-empty, inside-the-park home run in the seventh inning by Tim Raines. That was scarcely any more exciting, though, than the baseball-cum-fireworks spectacle staged in Denver on the Fourth of July a year ago. On that occasion, the Bears were losing 14-7 going into the last of the ninth but scored nine runs, the last three on a two-out homer, to win 16-14 before 38,490 delirious fans. Which is the sort of drama that will help keep baseball booming—with or without the added bang of fireworks.
VROOMING BACK TO NORMAL
Oct. 30, 1978: Leading car owners, including Roger Penske, Dan Gurney and Pat Patrick, break away from the all-powerful USAC (United States Auto Club) to form the insurgent CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) in a dispute over, among other things, engine rules and purses.
March 11, 1979: CART launches its own series of races, to be followed two weeks later by the start of USAC's series. The rival organizations reunite only for the Indianapolis 500, which USAC has run since 1956, and then only after CART gains admission to the event by suing in federal court.
April 3, 1980: CART and USAC bury the hatchet and form CRL (Championship Racing League), which is to be run by a six-member board of governors, five of them car owners. All sides wear straight faces as they hail an end to acrimony and the attendant dilution of sponsorship money and TV coverage.
June 20, 1980: Life has been simply too quiet these past two months. Indy President John Cooper, saying that CRL is too dominated by car owners, demands that the Indy 500 be run by an "independent" sanctioning body, a description that no longer fits USAC.
June 30, 1980: USAC reacts to Cooper's edict by withdrawing from CRL, thereby reasserting its independence.
July 1, 1980: CART President Jim Melvin announces his organization will reinstate its own series of races starting with a 200-mile event in Jackson, Mich. on July 20, a decision that leaves USAC's schedule up in the air beyond a 150-mile race July 13 in Lexington, Ohio. Melvin describes the resumed warfare—alas, all too accurately—as "business as usual."
NOW THEY'RE AMERICA'S AERIALISTS
Remember America's Team, the unfortunate tag pinned last season on the Dallas Cowboys? The nickname originated, innocently enough, as the title of the team's preseason highlight film. At first the Dallas front office was delighted by the appellation, but that was before the media and Cowboy opponents began ridiculing it. Soon some Dallas players were wishing aloud that America would go find itself another team. Which, of course, is more or less what happened when the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team came along.
It's apparent that all 28 NFL teams have learned from Dallas' experience. The NFL's new highlight films have just been released, and their titles reflect adoration (Houston's Luv You Blue), patience (San Francisco's A Matter of Time), pride (Tampa Bay's From Worst to First) and a whole lot of hope (Baltimore's On the Way Up, Minnesota's Make Way for Tomorrow, New England's A New Era). But there's nothing resembling another America's Team. Steve Sabol, executive vice-president of NFL Films, which produces the annual highlight films, told The Washington Star's Steve Guback that he wanted to call Pittsburgh's film Team of the Decade, only to be quickly overruled by Steeler brass, who, mindful of the Cowboy precedent, settled on the slightly less presumptuous title, A Cut Above.
The Cowboys? Oh, yes, their 1980 film is entitled Team on a Tightrope.
THEY SAID IT
•Tommy Lasorda, Dodger manager, lauding Jerry Reuss for pitching a no-hitter against the Giants: "It couldn't have happened to a greater guy. Well, yes it could. It could have happened to me."
•Art Donovan, former 310-pound Baltimore Colt defensive lineman, describing himself as a light eater: "As soon as it's light, I start to eat."