A QUESTION OF INDEPENDENCE
The U.S. Olympic Committee has stirred up a hornet's nest by censuring Julian K. Roosevelt, one of two Americans on the 88-member International Olympic Committee and a member of the IOC's executive board. F. Don Miller, the USOC's executive director, said the USOC executive board took the action earlier this month because Roosevelt, who's also a member of that board, had missed too many USOC meetings and because of dissatisfaction over "his lack of support for the policies of the USOC." USOC President William E. Simon said Roosevelt had "repeatedly voted in the IOC counter to the USOC stance, and that's absolutely wrong."
Roosevelt, 59, an Oyster Bay, N.Y. yachtsman and semiretired investment banker who was elected to the IOC in 1974, has been wrongheaded on many issues; for example, he has adopted a Neanderthal position in opposing Simon's efforts to liberalize Olympic eligibility rules. But some USOC executive board members accuse Simon and Miller of railroading the censure through and of not giving Roosevelt, who wasn't present, a chance to respond to the charges against him. "Absolutely nobody knew what was going on in that meeting," says Jim Moriarty, who has just resigned as both a USOC executive board member and chairman of the U.S. Luge Association. "Members of the board tremble at the sight of Simon and Miller."
In moving to "disassociate" itself from Roosevelt, as the censure resolution formally put it, the USOC was flouting IOC rules. For one thing, the charter says that IOC members are automatically members of their national committees' executive boards, which means that the USOC can't disassociate itself from him. The charter also specifies that IOC members represent that organization in their countries, not the other way around, and that they must remain free of "political influence" and vote their consciences. Simon dismisses that as too idealistic and argues that Soviet IOC members exercise no such independence, to which Harold O. Zimman, another USOC executive board member, offers the perfect squelch: "Well, we aren't the Russians." Roosevelt says simply, "I vote for what is right." As for his failure to attend USOC meetings, he explains that the meetings often conflicted with trips he had to make on IOC business.
April 29, 1984
Simon and Miller had been especially unhappy about Roosevelt's role in a dispute over press credentials at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo for Radio Free Europe, the U.S. Government-funded station that broadcasts to Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union denounces Radio Free Europe as "subversive" and bitterly opposes its accreditation for the Olympics. For its part, the IOC has expressed concern about the great number of émigrés on Radio Free Europe's staff and the fact that unlike other government-funded stations, such as the BBC and Radio Moscow, it doesn't transmit programming to its own country. After the IOC balked at issuing the 11 press credentials that Radio Free Europe had requested for Sarajevo, Miller and the IOC worked out a compromise that accredited only the four people on the station's list who were U.S. citizens and one British employee. Six other staffers, none of whom had U.S. passports, were denied accreditation. Roosevelt joined with other IOC executive board members in voting for the compromise. But after Radio Free Europe, complaining that it was being singled out for political reasons, rejected the compromise, Roosevelt and his IOC confreres voted to grant the station no credentials at all.
Radio Free Europe was right in accusing the IOC of playing politics; in placing restrictions on the station, the IOC was plainly bowing to pressure from Soviet-bloc countries. But it also happens that in the U.S. scheme of things, Radio Free Europe, no matter how objective its broadcasts may be, is an instrument of foreign policy rather than an autonomous journalistic organization; the fact that it's entirely funded by Congress deprives it of the independence from government considered essential under the American concept of a free press. Be all that as it may, Simon and Miller are wrong in intimating that Roosevelt was somehow responsible for Radio Free Europe's being shut out of Sarajevo (they claim, and Roosevelt denies, that he told the IOC board that the station was "an intelligence tool" of the U.S. Government). Roosevelt, after all, did vote for the compromise that Miller had worked out with the IOC.
It's hard to figure out what Roosevelt's censure was meant to accomplish. Simon and Miller are unhappy about the U.S.'s lack of clout in the Olympic movement, but taking an action that can be construed as blatantly meddling in IOC affairs won't improve that situation. Nor will it strengthen Radio Free Europe's case at a time when the Soviets are already making a fuss about the station's accreditation for the Summer Olympics. What it does do, as an opponent of the censure, William H. Lynn, a USOC executive board member and vice-president of the U.S. Yacht Racing Union, bluntly puts it, is "make us look stupid in the eyes of the world."
HOME AND AWAY
When the New York Jets decided to move, starting next season, from Shea Stadium in Queens to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., they knew they were venturing into enemy territory. Nevertheless, the Jets made like the Giants and quickly sold out all their '84 home dates in the 76,891-seat facility. That includes a Dec. 2 game against the Giants in which the Jets are officially the home team, a designation that puts the Giants in the curious position of playing an away game in Giants Stadium.
"It will be strange," says Ed Croke, the Giants' director of media services. "I guess we'll have to wear our white jerseys." An even bigger adjustment for the Giants is the fact that they'll be playing before a houseful of Jets fans, with Giants season-ticket holders reduced to watching on TV.
More happily, because they and the Jets have separate locker rooms, the Giants will be able to dress in familiar surroundings; a third locker room, ordinarily used by visiting teams, will be empty on Dec. 2. And while the Giants will be staying put at their Giants Stadium headquarters, the Jets will be journeying to a nearby hotel on the eve of the game from their training site in Long Island, 35 miles away. The result, says Croke, is that "they'll make a longer trip for their home game than we will for our road game."
Chick Lang, the general manager at Pimlico, was exulting the other day over the track's plans to show the Kentucky Derby on TV to its patrons and accept betting on the race. "We want to sell mint juleps here in the official Derby glass, and we want to pipe in My Old Kentucky Home" Lang said. Suddenly, Lang's mood changed, and he added, "The only thing I feel bad about is that I'll be in Kentucky that day."
THE ROAD TO L.A.
•In an effort to reduce traffic congestion during the Los Angeles Olympics, a move is afoot to create a three-day holiday weekend smack in the middle of the Games, which will run from July 28 to Aug. 12. The legislation, which has passed the California Senate and awaits a vote in the Assembly, would move Admission Day, a state holiday that ordinarily would be celebrated this year on Monday, Sept. 10, to Monday, Aug. 6. Some Californians complain that it's nothing short of sacrilegious to switch the state's birthday to a date that happens to be Emancipation Day in the Bahamas, Independence Day in Bolivia and Admission Day in Colorado but has no special meaning in California.
•It isn't enough that David Letterman's TV program is the official talk show of the U.S. Virgin Islands Olympic team, or that a group of youngsters in Wisconsin declared themselves the official fifth grade of the 1984 Winter Olympics, or that Los Angeles' finest have styled themselves the Official Police Department of the 1984 Summer Games (SCORECARD, Jan. 9 et seq.). Proving that this particular joke has more varieties than Heinz, a UCLA student who's taking a course on sports festivals recently handed in a research paper entitled "Commercialism: The Official Term Paper of the 1984 Olympics." Then there was the utterance of a lawyer for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, who complained before U.S. District Judge Richard A. Gadbois Jr. about entrepreneurs who improperly—in the L.A. organizers' eyes—try to associate their wares with the Summer Games. Such activities, the lawyer warned, could result in endless litigation that would make Gadbois "the official judge of the Olympics."
•Worried lest souvenir hunters steal Olympic signs bolted to posts, summer Olympic planners intend to display many of their directional and other messages on sandwich boards borne by dancers or mimes "willing to jump around and be active pieces rather than just acting as signposts." A sign shown in a photograph accompanying a Los Angeles Times article on the subject featured an arrow pointing to "Main Gate," "Ticket Sales" and "Information." But if the sign bearers are jumping around, won't the arrow end up pointing every which way? Better allow plenty of time to reach your destinations, Olympicgoers.
AN EXTRA BUCK WELL SPENT
When you've won just two of your last 23 games, this sort of thing happens. Last week Oshman's Sporting Goods Warehouse Outlet in San Antonio was selling Western-style hats bearing the Houston Oilers' emblem for $3.98. The same hats without the emblem were $4.98.
SOMETHING BORROWED...AND BLUE
Last season in Baltimore the Colts sold 24,000 season tickets. Now divorced from that city, the NFL team is enjoying a glorious honeymoon in Indianapolis. Last week, barely 72 hours after they'd begun accepting season-ticket applications for the 1984 season, the Indianapolis Colts had taken in enough orders—$8.1 million worth—to assure a sellout of all 57,000 seats in the 60,500-seat Hoosier Dome that the team was making available to season subscribers; the rest of the tickets, the Colts said, would be held back for public sale the week of each game. The ticket applicants were thus consummating the union forged by Indy civic leaders who'd wooed Colts owner Robert Irsay to their city by promising season-ticket sales of 40,000. "I'm looking at these tickets as an investment," one applicant said. "I'm going to will these to my kids." Talk about ardor; the poor moonstruck fellow was, in a sense, promising to love, honor and obey the Colts even after death does them part.
RAMBLE WITH BRAMBLE
On June 1, Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini will defend his WBA lightweight championship in Buffalo against No. 1 contender Livingstone Bramble, a Virgin Islander who owns a snake named Dog and five bullterriers, one of which is named Snake. Bramble has distinguished himself in at least one other way. Going beyond the normal limits of prefight hype—not to mention the bounds of good taste—he has dedicated the fight against the Italian-American Mancini to the Ethiopians killed when Italy overran their country in 1935.
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Altobelli, Baltimore Oriole manager, recalling that President Reagan had spent an inning in the team's dugout on Opening Day: "He sat right where I usually sit. I didn't have the heart to say 'Move over.' "
•Steve Albert, New Jersey Nets TV announcer, whose SportsChannel-issued blazer has resulted in fans mistaking him for an usher, asked if he'd want to switch to a different one next season: "No way. I've made $2.50 in tips this year."
•Earl Strom, NBA referee, complaining to Atlanta coach Mike Fratello after the Hawks' Dan Roundfield protested a call: "I don't think he has the right to yell at me just because I miss a call. I don't yell at him when he misses a layup."
•Fred Smerlas, the Buffalo Bills' All-Pro tackle, objecting to the team's switch from white to red helmets: "Red is kind of a wimpy color. Maybe next they'll make us wear little flowers on our jerseys, up around the shoulder pads. And then we can have Big Bird on the sides of our pants to make the kids happy."