CULPABILITY IN CARACAS
The reaction of U.S. Olympic Committee President William E. Simon to the drug scandal at the Pan American Games (page 18) is disquieting. In announcing that the USOC was instituting mandatory random doping tests at domestic competitions, Simon took a long overdue action. At the same time, by self-righteously saying that USOC officials had warned athletes "time and time again" about the damages of drug use, he was obscuring his organization's own culpability in the doping scandal.
USOC higher-ups knew full well that steroid use was widespread in the U.S. despite the "warnings" Simon was talking about. They also were aware that many American athletes felt themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the face of what they believed to be a more scientific use of steroids and other drugs by Soviet-bloc rivals, and looked to American coaches, officials and doctors to provide similar assistance. And the USOC actually may have obliged: Tom Petranoff, the American who holds the world record in the javelin, told SI last week that he had attended USOC-sponsored "elite-athlete" seminars at which doctors provided estimates of how long various steroids remain in the body, information that would be useful in trying to avoid detection. This was consistent with the USOC's role in arranging drug testing in Caracas before the Games began for 10 American weightlifters, eight of whom tested positive for steroids. No penalties were imposed because the pretesting was strictly "informational"; in essence, the USOC was providing help to American athletes so they wouldn't get caught. Apparently, the USOC has been trying to have it both ways, dutifully cautioning athletes about drug use while "realistically" helping drug users in their efforts to avoid detection.
If the USOC had meant business about curbing drug use among this country's athletes, it could have instituted mandatory doping controls at domestic events long before last week's announcement. The same is true of The Athletics Congress, the national governing body for track and field, which has spurned calls to introduce testing at U.S. championships, partly because of cost but also because of its laughable position, as enunciated last week by spokesman Pete Cava, that doping tests at international meets were enough of a "deterrent." To complete the picture of U.S. laxity, the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee has resisted the International Olympic Committee's demands for testing at the '84 Summer Games for excessive levels of testosterone and caffeine. The LAOOC has objected that such tests aren't scientifically foolproof, but it's also obvious that the need for testing hasn't been taken seriously by LAOOC President Peter Ueberroth, who last January, in a reference to drug use in sports, was almost flippant in telling SI's Anita Verschoth, "The only real drug problem we have is football players taking cocaine."
September 4, 1983
Under the circumstances, it isn't surprising that IOC medical authorities regard the U.S. as the least cooperative of major athletic nations in dealing with drug use by athletes. The hope is that now, after the developments in Caracas, U.S. officials will put the health of their athletes and a devotion to the rules ahead of concerns about what rival nations may or may not be doing.
During the second half of their 19-17 preseason win over the Dolphins in Miami, the Saints unveiled what wags immediately dubbed the all-Wilson backfield. Quarterback Dave Wilson, Fullback Tim Wilson and Running Back Wayne Wilson were joined by the official NFL football, the Wilson F 1000.
PLEASE SPARE THIS MOUNTAIN
Sign of the times: The National Park Service is asking climbers who plan on ascending Mount Rainier to carry out all human waste. To expedite this request, the service is providing climbers with plastic bags. So heavy is the traffic on the two main routes to Mount Rainier's peak—last year 8,358 climbers attempted to scale the 14,408-foot mountain—that the crevasses are being excessively fouled with excrement. As one park official, Jim Monheiser, delicately puts it: "They packed it in, so now we're asking them to pack it out."
GUMSHOES BUT NO GUM
Police in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and other cities have been distributing free trading cards bearing photos of local NFL stars on one side and crime prevention and safety tips on the other. All a youngster has to do is ask a policeman for the latest card. Cops on the beat carry a supply with them. In the Washington, D.C. area, where a grant by Frito-Lay Inc. enabled police to hand out three million Redskin trading cards last year, the tip on Tight End Don Warren's card urged children not to leave toys in the yard, where they might be stolen. Safety Mark Murphy's card counseled youngsters not to accept money, candy, gifts or rides from strangers. And Defensive Tackle Dave Butz's cautioned them not to play at construction sites.
In distributing the cards, the police are trying to build a rapport with children while also giving them some sound advice. Sorry, kids, but bubble gum doesn't come with the cards. And don't accept any gum from strangers, either.
THERE'S A MORAL HERE, COUGAR FANS
Bloomington (Ind.) North High School's football team went into its season opener against Indianapolis Washington two weeks ago with an improbable pair of losing streaks: The Cougars had lost not only 21 straight games but also, amazingly, every pregame coin toss over the same span. North proceeded to lose its 22nd straight game, 58-0, the worst defeat in the school's history, but not before finally winning a coin flip. Which goes to show, we suppose, that it's a whole lot easier to change one's luck than one's skill.
A MAN FOR ALL DAYS
Edwin Moses last week regained the distinction of being the only track and field athlete to have the top performance in his specialty for each day of the week. That's the word from Jed Brickner, a Los Angeles lawyer who keeps tabs on performances in the sport on the basis of the days on which they're set (SCORECARD, March 10, 1980, et seq.). Moses' world record in the 400-meter hurdles of 47.13 was set on July 3, 1980—a Thursday—and he also has the "records" for Sunday (47.43), Monday (47.90), Tuesday (47.14), Friday (47.17) and Saturday (47.45). Until last week, though, Moses' best for a Wednesday had been a 47.64, a shade slower than the 47.48 that West Germany's Harald Schmid clocked on Sept. 8, 1982. But as Brickner notes, Moses' time of 47.37 in Zurich last Wednesday eclipsed Schmid's mark and restores the American's mantle as the sport's only "seven-day wonder."
AH, THOSE SUNDAY VICTORIES
As a general rule, winning teams benefit more than losing teams from ticket and concession sales and TV revenues. Now comes Paul Mooney, president of both the Boston Bruins and the Boston Garden, to say that winning teams also save money in vandalism costs. Totting up losses from damage to the Garden after Bruin and Celtic games, including signs torn off walls, toilets plugged up by foreign objects and the like, Mooney estimates that the cost of vandalism after a win typically amounts to about $500 while the cost after losses soars to $5,000. After a Bruin tie, the bill, Mooney said, comes to $800 to $900.
"When the Bruins or Celtics lose a game in which there are high expectations the other way, the building bears the brunt of fan dissatisfaction," Mooney says. "A game between the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers, for instance, would have a higher intensity than one between the Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings. When there's a higher expectation level and the game winds up a disappointment, there's a higher level of damage to the building."
Mooney says there's little difference between Celtic and Bruin games in the amount of damage but that the night of the week can make a difference. "A Sunday night audience is far more sedate generally than a Friday night audience," he says. "On Sunday the fans are intent on getting ready to start the work week the next day. On a Friday, in contrast, it's the start of a weekend, and the fans whoop it up more."
STARTING SMALL, MAKING IT BIG
Seattle Seahawk Quarterback Jim Zorn is a product of Cal Poly-Pomona, which dropped football a year ago. Backup Quarterback Dave Krieg comes from Milton (Wis.) College, which didn't just drop football; last year the whole school went out of business. And rookie Steve Wray, who made the Seahawks as the third signal-caller, played at Franklin (Ind.) College, which belongs to the Heartland Conference and has a 600-member student body.
Who says you have to go to a big-time football school to make it as an NFL quarterback?
MERCY, YES, IT'S GRANNY THE GREEK
She's of Scottish-Welsh extraction and has a daughter but no grandchildren. But that doesn't prevent WXFL-TV in Tampa from billing Carolyn Cross, the 81-year-old widow who serves as the station's pigskin prognosticator, as "Granny the Greek." This week the white-haired retired schoolteacher will be starting another season providing weekly on-the-air picks of five NFL and five college games. According to the station, her accuracy rate since her debut in the middle of the '81 season has been a solid 75% for the pros, even higher for the colleges.
Granny began closely following football in the early '20s after taking a job teaching English and Latin at Lynch (Ky.) High School. She and her late husband, C. Austin Cross, a safety inspector for U.S. Steel, rooted for the University of Kentucky and rubbed elbows with Wildcat coaches and players. A Florida resident since 1963, she was "discovered" by WXFL sportscaster Dick Crippen. "She'd called me with questions about games," says Crippen. "The more we spoke, the more I realized she knew what she was talking about. I thought, 'I wonder if she can pick football games.' "
Crippen's protégée takes in as many games as she can on TV—"Mercy, yes, I like to watch football," she says—but relies less on stats than on seat-of-the-rocking-chair intuition. "Granny's not above picking St. Louis because she likes red birds," says Crippen. She also is faithful to her favorite coaches, and it doesn't hurt her accuracy average that they also happen to be winning coaches. Bear Bryant was high on Granny's list because he used to coach at Kentucky, and she's partial to Miami Coach Howard Schnellenberger because he once played there, and to Michigan Panther Coach Jim Stanley, whose team won the 1983 USFL title, because he was in Granny's senior English class at Lynch High. "I picked the Panthers right from the start," she says.
Granny recognizes that her growing following includes bettors, but she refuses to help those who call her at home for tips. "If that's what they want it for. I just don't give it to them," she says. But she quickly adds. "Not that I'm a goody-goody or anything."
THEY SAID IT
•Todd Blackledge, former Penn State quarterback, after calling his parents to tell them about his lucrative contract with the Kansas City Chiefs: "I told them it was the last collect call I'd ever make."
•Bill Yeoman, University of Houston coach, bemoaning the fact that 300-pound senior Tackle Earl Jones has been declared ineligible for academic reasons: "He can move around pretty good. He just didn't move to class too well."