The winds of change continue to waft through the International Olympic Committee. At its just-concluded meeting in Baden-Baden, West Germany, the 82-member IOC elected its first women members, Pirjo Haggman of Finland and Flor Isava-Fonseca of Venezuela. The IOC also abandoned the notion that Olympic athletes are, like children, meant to be seen but not heard. Sebastian Coe, the Olympic gold medalist who holds world records in the mile, 1,000 and 800 meters, was one of several athletes given the unprecedented opportunity to address the IOC Congress at Baden-Baden, after which IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch said he had accepted an invitation from Coe to get together in London sometime soon for lunch.
But Samaranch was just trying to be gracious in extravagantly praising as "decisive" a passage in Coe's "wonderful speech" urging the IOC to liberalize its Rule 26 governing Olympic eligibility. Although the IOC proceeded to amend the rule along the lines Coe suggested, the change merely formalized existing realities by officially leaving it to each of the 28 federations that oversee Olympic sports to set, subject to IOC approval, its own rules on amateurism. Such rules already range widely, from those in cycling and skiing, which are professional in all but name, to those in track and field, whose world federation, the IAAF, recently voted to ease restrictions on the payment of endorsement money to athletes but still makes a great pretense of keeping its payola-happy sport amateur.
Any hope for more meaningful reform of Olympic eligibility standards was dashed by officials from Eastern European countries, who resist tampering with a system under which their state-subsidized athletes have been able to flourish. Still, the IOC's willingness to amend Rule 26 was at least symbolically important, signaling that that organization no longer clings so tenaciously to the fiction maintained under Samaranch's predecessors, Avery Brundage and, to a considerably lesser extent, Lord Killanin, that athletes can subscribe to the archaic tenets of pure amateurism and still somehow train and perform at a world-class level. How to go about assuring those athletes the right to earn a living wage without having to demean themselves by resorting to accepting under-the-table payments is something Samaranch and Coe can talk about over lunch.
October 12, 1981
PLAUDITS & SNUBS
A more discordant note in Baden-Baden was the disfavor in which the U.S. found itself within the Olympic movement because of 1) the organizational snafus and continuing financial difficulties surrounding the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, 2) the U.S.-led boycott of the '80 Summer Games in Moscow and 3) the threat to the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles posed by the recent admission to the U.S. of the South African rugby team, the Springboks. The U.S. Olympic Committee was miffed because its president, William Simon, was left off the speakers' list at the IOC Congress, and Lake Placid officials complained that while Sergei Pavlov, organizer of the 1980 Summer Games, was awarded an honorary Olympic silver medal, nobody from Placid was similarly honored.
Considering all the other medals that were handed out in Baden-Baden—officially, medals of The Olympic Order—that did seem like quite an oversight. Pope John Paul II, Norway's King Olav V, the Marquis of Exeter, Lord Killanin and Amadou Mahtar M'Bow, director-general of UNESCO, all received gold medals, while British, French, Italian and Belgian Olympic officials were given silver medals in recognition of their having resisted the Moscow boycott. The only American to receive a medal—bronze—was Anita DeFrantz, a member of the U.S. rowing team at the 1976 Olympics who led an unsuccessful court challenge of Jimmy Carter's decision to boycott the '80 Games and who, invoking the hours she spent on ice-choked rivers training in vain for Moscow, uttered these now historic words: "Carter said 'we' are going to boycott the Olympics. I don't understand the 'we.' Where was he when I was out there freezing my butt off?"
THE GAME WAS A LOCK
This week's Knute Rockne Award for inspirational locker-room oratory goes to Pete Potter, football coach at The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn., in recognition of the heights to which he's evidently capable of lifting his team. After Potter finished giving his boys a pep talk before a recent game against Soddy-Daisy School, they charged out of the locker room, followed by an equally fired-up Assistant Coach Bill Cherry, who paused only long enough to lock the door. In their eagerness to get on with the game, neither the players, Cherry, the team managers nor anybody else realized that Potter was still in the locker room, having made a detour to the bathroom. When Potter found himself locked in, he banged on the door and hollered for help, but to no avail. Peering helplessly through a crack in the door, the frustrated Potter could see the Soddy-Daisy players running toward the field, too.
Out on the gridiron the starting lineups were introduced, the captains met at midfield and the national anthem was played. Only when the McCallie players came to the sideline for final instructions from Potter did anyone realize that the coach was missing. Eventually somebody figured out what had happened, and a team manager was dispatched to rescue Potter, who arrived on the field only after McCallie had received the kickoff and run two plays from scrimmage. Somewhat sheepishly, Potter said, "Now that's a first. I'll guarantee you that."
It was also a last. At halftime, Potter scrupulously refrained from delivering anything remotely resembling a locker-room pep talk, and his players made sure the coach was with them when they returned to the field to put the finishing touches on a 29-12 McCallie victory.
SIC 'EM, REGGIE
This seems to be the perfect time of year to tell you about Reggie Jackson's dog. She's a golden retriever. A friend gave the dog, then a pup, to the Yankee star last year as a Christmas present. Jackson proudly shows off snapshots of her to friends, and when he drives somewhere in his Rolls-Royce or pickup truck, the dog sits next to him in the front seat. Reggie affectionately calls her "Toby" for short. Her full name: Miss October.
BART'S TWO STARS
After mortgaging their future by trading a first-round draft choice, two seconds and Aundra Thompson for Wide Receiver John Jefferson, who led the AFC in receiving yardage last year, the Green Bay Packers couldn't wait to turn the ex-San Diego star loose in tandem with the incumbent Green Bay pass-catching sensation, James Lofton, the NFC's top receiver in 1980. The Packers' new one-two punch was unveiled on Sept. 27 against the Vikings, and while Green Bay Coach Bart Starr couldn't have asked for more from the duo—Jefferson caught seven passes for 121 yards, Lofton eight for 101—the final score left something very much to be desired. Minnesota won 30-13.
Perhaps the Packers shouldn't have been surprised. Last year NFL receivers caught passes for 100 yards or more in a game 125 times, yet their teams were a not-so-hot 65-57-3 in those games. Through this season's first four weeks NFL teams were a sorry 14-25 in games in which they had 100-yard-plus receivers. On the other hand, teams with 100-yard rushers were 73-16 last year and are 13-5 in '81. The Dallas Cowboys have proved to be practically unbeatable—with a 20-1 record—in games in which Tony Dorsett has rushed for 100 yards or more. The Steelers are 34-3 in games in which Franco Harris has done likewise.
Of course, there's a chicken-and-egg situation here. A team that's ahead tends to run more, thereby piling up individual rushing yardage totals. A losing team passes more in hopes of catching up. Still, counting on receivers to turn a losing team around appears to be a dubious practice. A year ago the New York Jets gambled by trading away two first-round selections for the right to draft speedy University of Texas Receiver Johnny (Lam) Jones. The thinking was that teaming Jones with All-Pro Wide Receiver Wesley Walker would make the New York offense unstoppable. The Jets had been 8-8 in each of the two seasons preceding that move. They are 5-16 since.
The evidence suggests that the Packers should have sold their souls for a runner, not a receiver.
As the 1981 regular season wound down, Billy Martin missed few opportunities to express his indignation over baseball's split-season playoff format. Sometimes the Oakland manager got carried away on the subject. Fulminating on one occasion against the makeshift playoff arrangements, Martin said, "Whoever devised it isn't a baseball man. It must have been the commissioner's lawyer, some guy from Dartmouth." Suddenly a stricken look flashed across Martin's countenance, and he said, "I mean some guy from Yale." Martin's amended remark may or may not have to do with the fact that A's President Roy Eisenhardt is a Dartmouth man.
STRIKE OUT THE BAND
It was a milestone last season when Army, in urgent need of football opponents it might have hopes of occasionally beating, began playing Ivy League schools for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century. But the upright West Pointers have since found the notoriously cheeky and ofttimes ragtag Ivy marching bands less than congenial. At halftime of a 15-10 loss to Harvard last season, the crowd in West Point's Michie Stadium was scandalized when the Crimson band saluted then-President Carter's decision to send special forces to Angola by forming the word DUMB. Two weeks ago the Cadets beat Brown 23-16 at West Point, but not before the Brown band's announcer intoned, "Last year West Point graduated its first woman cadet. Who knows when they'll graduate their first man." Whereupon the band launched into a rendition of Macho Man.
Now West Point is mounting a counteroffensive. The Cadets are scheduled to play host on Oct. 17 to Princeton, whose relatively small band—scarcely bigger than a commando unit—traditionally dresses in Styrofoam boaters and orange plaid blazers and once put on a halftime show in which a formation of bandsmen representing a spermatozoan charged across the field toward another formation representing an ovum. Although nobody knows what excesses the Princetonians might have been saving for the Army game, West Point Athletic Director Carl F. Ullrich, taking no chances, has told Tiger officials that their band, which was only scheduled to make a pregame appearance, won't even be allowed to do that. "I'm an Ivy Leaguer myself, and this hurts," says Ullrich, Cornell '50. "But I will not let our cadets be put down."
Princeton authorities appear inclined to go meekly along with their band's banishment. But then, they've also been trying themselves, with only limited success, to get the band to clean up its act. Although it's hard to condone a great university's acquiescing to censorship under any circumstances, there was a certain rich irony to reports that Army's move "shocked" the Princeton bandsmen, who, over the years, have been the ones accustomed to doing the shocking.
THEY SAID IT
•Donnie Duncan, Iowa State football coach, asked at a press conference following a 28-19 win over Kent State whether he was satisfied with the Cyclones' 3-0 start: "I guess I'd feel better if, after three games, we had four wins."
•Tom Koegel, Notre Dame quarterback, whose coach at Cincinnati's Moeller High, Gerry Faust, is now the Irish coach, denying that Faust had made a practice of steering Moeller players to South Bend: "He never told you to go to Notre Dame. He just kept telling you it was the greatest school in the world. He also whistled the fight song a lot."
•Russ Francis, retired New England Patriot tight end, after interviewing the opposing coaches before going on the air as the colorman in the ABC-TV telecast of The Citadel's 34-20 win over Appalachian State two weeks ago: "All they wanted to talk to me about was how to get the ball to the tight end."
•Gary Fallon, football coach at Washington & Lee, on hearing complaints from some of his players that there was no hot water in their dormitory: "Next thing you know, they'll be asking for soap."