THE MORE THINGS CHANGE...
Last September, Diane Shah, a thrice-weekly sports columnist for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, was on her way into the Rams' locker room after their home game against Green Bay when she was politely stopped at the door by a guard. A few minutes later a team official explained that it was the Rams' policy that women are not allowed in the locker room.
"I'm so naive, I really thought I'd get in," Shah said last week. After unsuccessful private negotiations with the club, and a futile attempt to meet personally with the Rams' Georgia Frontiere, who is also the only woman owner in the NFL, Shah went public with her complaint in a "Dear Georgia" column on Oct. 1. Invoking Frontiere's own words, Shah wrote that she too was "just a girl trying to make an honest living."
Two weeks ago, the newspaper took the Rams to court and a hearing date was tentatively set for Dec. 22, two days after L.A.'s last regular-season game. Meanwhile, at the team's suggestion, the U.S. District Court judge assigned to the case issued a restraining order requiring that the Rams offer equal access to all members of the press. In time for the Nov. 22 game against San Francisco, which the Rams lost 33-31, a small, dingy room adjacent to the locker room was quickly transformed into a formal interview area, complete with fully stocked bar and female tender. It took more than an hour for the requested players to make their appearances, and most of the writers eventually opted to go to the 49ers' locker room, which, as a result of a recent similar court action brought by The Sacramento Bee, was open to everyone.
December 7, 1981
Ironically, discrimination is the one subject that Shah and Frontiere have actually discussed.
"Back in June, when I first came to L.A., I spent a couple of weeks trying to familiarize myself with the area, the teams and the people I'd be covering," Shah recalls. "One day I dropped in to the Oakland Raiders' antitrust trial and was introduced to Georgia Frontiere. I told her that I wanted to write my first column about her. She advised me, wisely I think, against it. Too much like girls writing about girls, she cautioned. Then she gave me a concerned warning about the press. The media, she said, had treated her unfairly just because she was a woman. She wanted me to be aware that there were people out there who might discriminate against me for the same reason."
REVVIN' UP FOR KEVIN
Under new NBA rules governing free agents, the Washington Bullets were able to hold on to Guard Kevin Grevey for the 1981-82 season by agreeing to match a bid for him by the Indiana Pacers. But exercise of this "right of first refusal" isn't as simple as it seems. That the Bullets must match the Pacers' base salary offer of $1.4 million over four years is clear-cut. However, Indiana's promise to give Grevey, an auto-racing buff, four coveted penthouse seats for each of the next four Indy 500s is another matter. How will Washington match that one?
Easy, says Bullet General Manager Bob Ferry, we'll give Grevey the face value of the tickets—$65 each. Not so fast, Bob. Because penthouse seats are hard to come by at any price—tickets in specific locations are handed down as family heirlooms in the wills of longtime Indygoers—Grevey would understandably prefer the tickets themselves. But the Bullets don't have the same pull at Indy as the hometown Pacers do, and Grevey's lawyer, Scott Lang, says wistfully, "Whether or not the Bullets can get them remains to be seen."
FLY THE FRIENDLY VAN
For the last few months, motorists in the Colorado towns of Winter Park, Frisco, Kremmling and Steamboat Springs have been visited by a strange apparition: a man, clad in a skintight jump suit, goggles and a crash helmet, wearing heavy, wide, jumping skis, suspended in the prone position while harnessed to a six-foot scaffold atop a speeding green and white van, attended by two men who themselves were lashed to the roof of the vehicle. No, it wasn't some highway variation of a medieval torture, just a member of the U.S. Nordic combined team (cross-country skiing and ski jumping) putting in "air time" during the snowless season. And the two handlers were teammates making sure that his body and skis remained in a stable and aerodynamically correct jumping position.
The bizarre training exercise was invented by Steve Gaskill, head coach of the five-man combined team. "In the U.S. and other countries, wind-tunnel testing is used for skiers and jumpers," says Gaskill, "but to simulate ski jumping we really needed to hang a person without any resistance around him."
Because a jumper taking off from a 70-meter hill travels at about 56 mph, the team van usually slightly exceeded the speed limit. Gaskill ensured that their training sessions would be uninterrupted by briefing the Colorado Highway Patrol. Just don't do it on the Interstate, he was told, and, please, not during rush hours.
For each 10-minute session Gaskill used a straight, level 1½-mile stretch of lightly traveled road, over which he had each jumper "fly" four times. The participants found the exercise far more demanding than an actual jump, which takes between five and eight seconds.
"Hanging from the harness cuts your wind a little bit," says Kerry Lynch, a good bet for a medal at the world Nordic combined championships in Oslo this February. "To hold your best aerodynamic position for that long is quite exhausting. There is no sensation of falling. You're out there on the peak of a ride. The wind feels just as it does in an actual jump, with the air flow coming up from the windshield of the van. I feel more confident now, knowing exactly what position I have to reach in the air. I just must make sure I jump into that position."
Now that the snow season is here, Lynch will be able to practice on a real hill. Meanwhile, Gaskill is working on a refinement of his van-top contraption that lets the skiers actually jump into flight. And if mastering that doesn't enable them to win medals, at least it should get them jobs with the circus.
THE SENIOR CLASS IS THE BACKFIELD
You've heard of Student Body Right, that vaunted Southern Cal play in which Marcus Allen sweeps downfield behind a phalanx of Trojan blockers? Well, with all due respect for USC, Bob Dilday, coach of the Gleason (Tenn.) High School Bulldogs, could use the term Student Body Right—and Student Body Left and Student Body Center—more literally. One of the smallest public high schools in Tennessee, Gleason High has just 63 boys in its student body of 155, yet 45 of the 63 played on the football team. Making the most of the available talent, Gleason High this season had an 8-3 record.
BAIT AND SWITCH
Last week the NCAA did something it had never done before in its 75-year history: It put on national championships for women. These were in cross-country, and North Carolina State's Betty Springs and the University of Virginia won the Division I individual and team titles. By the end of this academic year the NCAA will have conducted tournaments in a dozen women's sports, an area previously governed by the AIAW, which holds championships in 19 sports, including cross-country. (Iowa State won the AIAW cross-country meet, held in Pocatello, Idaho two days before the NCAA race in Wichita, Kans.)
The future of the AIAW, for the past decade the banner-bearer of women's collegiate athletics, is now threatened by the NCAA, which until last year was uninterested in or hostile to women's sports. At present, most schools are having to choose membership in one group or the other.
"Many people are thinking that the AIAW will cease to exist within a year," says Tom Heinonen, the women's cross-country and track and field coach at the University of Oregon, which finished second in the NCAA meet. "And it's purely for financial reasons. The AIAW lost a large share of its income with the loss of dues from schools that switched to the NCAA."
The AIAW, however, isn't rolling over. It has brought an antitrust suit against the NCAA, seeking to bar it from holding women's championships. That case will probably come to trial in the spring, but by then the exodus to the NCAA may be nearly complete. The top five teams from last year's AIAW meet went to the NCAAs in Wichita, and of the top 10 teams this year, only two, Iowa State and Wisconsin, chose to participate in the AIAWs in Pocatello.
A MOVING EXPERIENCE
Being situated in Canton, N.Y., only 20 miles from the Canadian border, the folks at St. Lawrence University have had to deal with some extreme conditions when it comes to athletic contests. A football game against RPI last month was "snowed under" when a blizzard dumped so much white stuff during the game that officials couldn't locate yard markers or measure downs. A baseball game against Colgate in 1976 was "sunned out," called because the glare in the batter's box was so dazzling as to temporarily blind the batter, catcher and umpire. And playing indoors is no cinch. Now St. Lawrence has had a basketball game "moved."
The Saints were playing Geneseo State in a tournament at Potsdam, N.Y. two weeks ago when, with eight minutes remaining in the first half and St. Lawrence leading 20-8, the arena went dark, the result of a power blackout caused by a car hitting a utility pole. As players and spectators waited patiently in obscurity, tournament officials called around and found an available gymnasium at Clarkson College, a few miles away. Both teams piled into vans and cars, followed by some 100 fans, and the caravan made its way through the darkened town to resume the game, one hour and eight minutes after it was blacked out. St. Lawrence, accustomed to unusual interruptions, went on to an easy victory, 93-58.
NO WONDER THE BUDGET IS SPARTAN
Those two distinguished Michigan State alums, Federal Budget Director David Stockman ('68) and Los Angeles Dodger First Baseman Steve Garvey ('71), didn't know each other during the lone year, 1967-68, that both were on campus at the same time. Hard though it is to believe, Stockman was then a self-styled radical, while Garvey was, as he put it recently to SI's Jill Lieber, "in my short-haired athlete stage. At that time there was quite a separation." Also, Stockman was then a senior, Garvey a freshman.
Though Garvey, now 32, is still a short-haired athlete, much has happened to him since college days. He has undergone a political transformation (from a boyhood admiration for JFK to support of Ford and Reagan); he has been burned by a magazine article (an Inside Sports piece for which he and his now-estranged wife Cyndy reportedly received $100,000 in a libel settlement); and he admits he's considering running for the U.S. Senate when his baseball career ends. All of which gives him a lot in common with Stockman, who has also changed politically; has been stung by a magazine story, the now-famous Atlantic Monthly article; and is also mentioned as a potential candidate for the Senate.
Might these two sons of Michigan State run for the Senate against each other? Not likely. While Stockman presumably would make his bid in Michigan, the Florida-born Garvey says he would almost certainly run in California, where he now lives and where "I've established a base."
THEY SAID IT
•Mike McCormack, coach of the hapless Baltimore Colts after the team's co-captain, Offensive Guard Robert Pratt, pulled a hamstring running onto the field for the coin toss against St. Louis: "I'm going to send the injured reserve players out for the toss next time."
•Joe Frazier, who has announced his return to the ring, asked what would happen if he were matched against his son, Marvis, also a heavyweight: "If I said, 'Fall down,' he's going to fall down. I'm still his father."
•Bill Lee, Montreal Expo pitcher, discussing the documentary film about him that opened recently in a Montreal theater: "It's part of my 'Save Montreal' program. The rest of it involves cutting the heads off parking meters."