The Jim Thorpe saga had an apparently happy ending last fall when the International Olympic Committee voted to restore his amateur status and his name to the Olympic record books (SI, Oct. 25). The IOC's decision appeared to clear the way for Thorpe to be listed as the rightful winner of the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Games in Stockholm, events he'd won at the time, only to be stripped of his gold medals when it was discovered later that he'd accepted small sums of money for playing baseball in 1909 and 1910. Last January Thorpe's heirs were presented with duplicate gold medals in Los Angeles by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who hailed the "historic decision...by which Jim Thorpe was reinstated as winner of the pentathlon and decathlon events of the Fifth Olympiad."
But Thorpe's reinstatement wasn't quite as complete as it seemed. In a curious hedge, Samaranch has decided to list Thorpe only as "co-winner" with Hugo Wieslander (decathlon) and Ferdinand Bie (pentathlon), the athletes who placed second in their respective events to Thorpe and who received his gold medals upon his disqualification. Samaranch argues that too much time has passed to designate Thorpe as the sole winner, a contention that angers, among others, Robert W. Wheeler, who through his Jim Thorpe Foundation lobbied for the return of Thorpe's medals. Noting that the passage of time "had been their argument all along for not restoring his medal status," Wheeler says, "Now that the medals have been restored, why shouldn't he be listed as the sole winner?"
Why, indeed? Surely the IOC, having gone this far, should take the final logical step and recognize Thorpe as the winner of the two events. Samaranch needn't be worried about a little revisionism—it goes on all the time. In 1974 a Norwegian journalist named Jakob Vaage was noodling over the ski-jumping scores from the 1924 Winter Olympics at Chamonix, France and discovered that a countryman, the late Thorleif Haug, didn't deserve the bronze medal he'd received; his scores had been added incorrectly, and the actual third-place finisher was an American, Anders Haugen. Vaage went public with his discovery, and Haugen was presented with the bronze by Haug's daughter in a special ceremony.
July 17, 1983
That gesture by Haug's daughter was in the best sporting tradition. It can be assumed, similarly, that Bie and Wieslander wouldn't have wanted to be listed as "co-winners." Research by Olympic historians Bill Mallon of Durham, N.C. and Andy Strenk, a professor at USC, indicates that after Thorpe's disqualification, the two athletes had been very reluctant to accept the gold medals. Bie and Wieslander aren't alive to speak for themselves, but we do have the views of G√∂sta Holmér of Sweden, who died earlier this year at the age of 91. Holmér finished fourth in the decathlon and was awarded the bronze when Thorpe was disqualified, but he said he would have given up his medal if it meant justice would be done to Thorpe.
The IOC has also corrected itself in the case of Ingemar Johansson, who was disqualified for lack of aggressiveness in the heavyweight championship bout in the 1952 Olympics against Ed Sanders of the U.S. The loser in an Olympic title fight ordinarily gets the silver medal, but the IOC and the AIBA, the international boxing federation, decided that no silver in this case be awarded. But in May 1982, calling that decision a "mistake," the IOC presented the Swedish fighter with the silver medal after all.
Samaranch has so far refused to budge from his refusal to designate Thorpe as the winner of the 1912 decathlon and pentathlon. The wish here is that he reconsider and remove the last residue of tarnish from Thorpe's gold medals.
KEEPING TRACK OF BILLY
We're happy to report that Oklahoma Basketball Coach Billy Tubbs, who suffered a skull fracture last February when he was hit by a car while jogging, is recovering nicely. Tubbs has gained back the 18 pounds he lost after the accident, has resumed jogging and held a press conference a while back at which he claimed that the car that hit him had been guilty of "charging." The good-humored Tubbs has also let it be known that he'd like to get one of the T shirts that have been seen on the campus of rival Oklahoma State. They have the words I JOG WITH COACH TUBBS on the front and tire tracks on the back.
BUT DID IT SPLIT THE UPRIGHTS?
Several members of the Bengals were among the 100 golfers who competed in a long-driving contest during a recent charity outing at the Jack Nicklaus Sports Center in Kings Island, Ohio. As you might have guessed, one of the football players won. What you probably couldn't have guessed is the winner's identity. It wasn't 6'6", 278-pound Tackle Anthony Munoz, nor was it 6'3", 237-pound Linebacker Tom Dinkel, nor was it 6'5", 192-pound Wide Receiver Cris Collinsworth, nor was it 6'5", 265-pound Guard Dave Lapham, all of whom participated. The victor, with a drive of better than 280 yards, was Placekicker Jim Breech, who's all of 5'6" and 160 pounds.
RIGHT SONG, WRONG PEW
The baseball coach at Portland (Ore.) State, Jack Dunn, is wondering whether he may have been guilty of overemphasizing the game to his family. Dunn, who was the high school coach of Dale Murphy of the Braves, has a 3-year-old grandson who's already an avid fan. A couple of Sundays ago, at St. John Fisher Church in Portland, the priest asked the congregation to please rise. As the organist began to play, little Scotty Dunn launched into a robust rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, a song he picked up while watching seventh-inning stretches on TV games.
The question of illegal assistance in road racing keeps getting more complicated. Still simmering is the dispute over whether Joan Benoit received improper help when she won the women's division of the Boston Marathon in April in a women's world best of 2:22:42. To refresh your memory, Kevin Ryan, a world-class marathoner who was working as a TV commentator, ran with Benoit, ostensibly for journalistic purposes, and some observers claimed that Benoit had been paced by him, in contravention of the rules of TAC, and thus should have her record disallowed. In the view of Jennifer Young, an official of the National Running Data Center, which keeps records for TAC, Ryan's presence definitely gave Benoit an unfair advantage.
But this rules-are-rules argument ignores the fact that pacing in road races is widespread and almost impossible to police. It also ignores the possibility that Benoit didn't want to be helped by Ryan and that whatever pacing assistance he may have provided was, in effect, forced on her. The strict-constructionist approach is further undermined by a general willingness to overlook a different kind of boost that Grete Waitz received just after the start of the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on July 4. The 6.2-mile race attracted 28,000 entrants, and in the jostling that occurred during the mass start the Norwegian distance star was knocked down and all but trampled by other runners, before her brother, Jan Anderson, also in the race, pulled her to her feet. Despite a bloodied thigh and skinned elbow, Waitz went on to win in 32 minutes flat.
Technically, being hoisted to one's feet during a race also constitutes assistance, but Bob Hersh, TAC records chairman, notes that it's "customary" in road racing to pick up someone who falls and says, "It would take an unusually mean-spirited official to call it." Even Young agrees. She maintains that being helped to one's feet is an isolated incident while pacing is more or less continual. She also invokes considerations of safety in concluding that "given the size of the race and the fact that she got up and ran on her own," Waitz shouldn't have been penalized. Of Anderson's brotherly assist in Atlanta, Young goes so far as to say, solicitously, "I think it's nice he cared enough to pick her up."
No pro football player has ever endured as many losing games in so short a span as Linebacker Joe Harris. During the strike-shortened 1982 NFL season, he played with the Colts, who had an 0-8-1 record. Then, six weeks into the USFL season, he joined the Washington Federals, who were 3-10 from that point on. That meant Harris had been on the losing side 18 times during one 10-month period. There's a bright side to this, though: Think what the total might have been had the hapless Colts played a full schedule or had Harris joined the equally hapless Federals at the start of the season.
WHY DR. J WILL OPERATE WITHOUT DR. N
The NBA champion Philadelphia 76ers will hold their rookie camp starting July 28, but their 10th-round selection in the college draft, 5'10", 205-pound Dr. Norman Horvitz (above), won't be there. Horvitz, who's 49 years old, played hoops at the intramural level at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, from which he graduated in 1956. He's an osteopath as well as medical director of Nutri/System, Inc., the chain of weight-loss centers owned by Harold Katz, who also owns the Sixers, and Horvitz' selection by the 76ers as the 228th and final pick in the June 28 draft was meant as a lark. Alas, the sobersided NBA retroactively declared him ineligible for the draft, holding that because his college class had long since graduated, he was a free agent.
This wasn't the first time an NBA team had taken late-round draft choices lightly. Because NBA rosters are so small, with relatively little turnover, teams often feel that low picks are better used for publicity purposes. The San Francisco Warriors drafted an Iowa schoolgirl in 1969, and some teams build goodwill in their home territory by taking players from local colleges who don't have a chance of making an NBA roster. Other late choices can be satirical: for example, to twit the NFL for always talking about drafting the "best athlete available," the Kings picked Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner in 1977. Or sentimental: the Celtics last year drafted Indiana's Landon Turner, who'd been paralyzed in an auto accident. Or wildly speculative: San Diego took 7'6" Manute Bol of the Sudan this year. Or paternal: Nuggets Coach Doug Moe, whose son David is a sophomore guard at North Carolina's Catawba College, made Catawba players his No. 7, 9 and 10 picks this year, thereby giving the school a cachet it can use in recruiting.
In view of all this, the NBA was clearly playing the spoilsport in declaring Horvitz ineligible for the draft. Still, Washington Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry wryly notes that the NBA's ruling might be a good thing for Horvitz. Says Ferry: "Being a free agent, now he can talk to all the teams."
THEY SAID IT
•Alan Harmon, Los Angeles Express owner, explaining how the team's colors were chosen: "We took the silver from Detroit, the blue from Dallas and the burgundy from my daughter's blouse."
•Mickey Rivers, Texas Ranger DH, complaining about weather conditions during a game: "Man, it was tough. The wind was blowing about 100 degrees."
•Steve Lundquist, SMU swimming star, explaining why he's considering quitting the sport: "I'm used to getting up at 6 a.m. to train and then falling asleep in class. If I quit, I could go to class and not fall asleep."