EXHIBITIONS WITH A MESSAGE
The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, which will be held in Los Angeles from June 17 to 24, won't just feature athletes who want to make it to the Summer Games; the Trials will be showcasing two events that might be considered Olympic hopefuls as well. They are the women's 5,000-and 10,000-meter runs, neither of which is an Olympic event. Indeed, until the Olympic program was changed effective with the 1984 Games, there had been no Olympic footrace for women longer than 1,500 meters. Women runners had hoped to add to the '84 Olympic program the 5,000, 10,000 and marathon, all of which are run by men, but had to settle for a 3,000 and a marathon. Consequently, the 5,000 and 10,000 at the Trials are scheduled to be mere exhibitions.
The situation conceivably still could change if a lawsuit brought by women runners from 27 countries succeeds in forcing Olympic officials to hold a women's 5,000 and 10,000 at the L.A. Olympics; presumably, the exhibitions at the U.S. Trials would then become true Olympic qualifying events. But such an outcome appears highly unlikely. In what was probably a terminal setback for their legal efforts insofar as the '84 Olympics are concerned, a U.S. District Court judge in L.A. last month denied the women the injunction they sought against Olympic officials.
Even as exhibitions, the 5,000 and 10,000 at the Trials could be interesting. Although Mary Decker, the premier U.S. middle-distance runner, figures to be too busy trying to make the team in the 1,500 and 3,000 to enter the 5,000 and 10,000, other leading competitors may well do so. These could include any of the three runners who will earn berths on the U.S. team at the women's marathon Trials this week in Olympia, Wash.; they might find it useful for training purposes to run the 10,000 in the track Trials. The events also figure to attract foreigners living in the U.S. who will have already made their national Olympic teams in the 3,000 and marathon. And they could draw athletes like Nancy Rooks, a Canadian who, because her ideal distances are 5,000 and 10,000 meters, is in danger of ending up without an Olympic event. The melancholy spectacle of Rooks and others like her running 5,000 and 10,000 exhibitions in the U.S. Trials could be an eloquent argument for the Olympic hierarchy to wake up and add the two events to the Olympic program, if not in 1984, then in 1988 for sure.
May 13, 1984
THE SMART MONEY
Just before the start of the Kentucky Derby, a lot of the smart money, some of which may even have gone to college, swung to Silent King, a colt ridden by Bill Shoemaker. An ad in the New York Daily News on Derby Day read: KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER. WILL BE A LONGSHOT TODAY. WE HAVE THE WINNER AND IT'S YOURS FOR ONLY $25. The ad urged punters to call a toll-free number and have their Visa or MasterCard ready. Those who availed themselves of the offer were given Silent King's name. As things turned out, because of all the late action on him, Silent King wasn't a long shot at all. Although he was 15-1 in Churchill Downs' morning line, he was a solid 9-2 choice at post time. In New York's Off Track Betting pool, he went off as the favorite at 7-2.
Perceptive Derby watchers will note that a horse other than Silent King won. Silent King, a stretch runner, was dead last in the field of 20 for more than half the race, and by the time he made his move, it was too little and too late, not to mention far too wide. He finished a well-beaten ninth, which was certainly not what the tout who placed the ad in the News had in mind. "We've got contacts all over the country," he had told callers. "We've talked to everybody." The fellow, who said he was located in Hollywood, Fla., invited one customer to keep in touch after cleaning up on the Derby, because "You're going to make money with me."
So now you know how the so-called smart money sometimes fares in horse racing. This message has been brought to you as a public service.
PLAYING IT AS IT LYES
Sports staffers at The Arizona Republic like to tell the one about the landlubbing copy editor who, coming across a reference in a story to the "fore and aft" locations on a bass boat, changed the words to "before and after." They also tell about the time a reporter interviewed Roy Rogers and wrote that he liked to "shoot craps and ski," when what the movie cowboy really said was that he liked to "shoot trap and skeet." Now they've got a new one to chuckle over. Seems the telephone rang during this year's Masters golf tournament and a young woman new to the sports department answered.
"Someone wants to know who's leading the Masters," she called out.
Unfamiliar with PGA player Mark Lye, she shrugged and told the caller, "Jack Nicklaus...."
Over the last five months, Detroit's long-suffering sports fans have been on a joyride. The Lions made the NFL playoffs for only the second time in 13 years. The Red Wings got into the NHL playoffs for the first time in six years. The Pistons reached the playoffs in the NBA for the first time in seven years. The Spirits of the Continental Basketball Association also made the playoffs. And as of Sunday, the Tigers were far ahead in the American League East, and the defending USFL champion Panthers were in first place in their division. Although the baseball and USFL seasons are still in progress, it doesn't seem too early to raise the possibility that Motown could go 6 for 6 in qualifying its professional teams for the playoffs. Unfortunately, Detroit teams have also been remarkably consistent so far in one other respect: The Lions, Red Wings, Pistons and Spirits all lost in the first round of their respective playoffs.
Jack Smitheran, the baseball coach at Cal-Riverside, was thrown out of a recent game with Oral Roberts while he was going to the bathroom. The home-plate umpire, unhappy about a couple of hit batsmen, warned both benches that the next such incident would result in the offending team's pitcher and coach being ejected. In the eighth inning, while Smitheran was in the dugout bathroom, out of sight and sound of the field, his pitcher, Walt Stull, hit a Titan batter, precipitating a bench-clearing brawl. "I didn't know how the fight started," Smitheran said later. "All of a sudden I heard some loud footsteps. I looked out, and there was nobody left in the dugout." Persuasive though this alibi was, the ump carried out his threat and gave Smitheran and Stull the heave-ho. Cal-Riverside won the game 11-4.
STATING HIS POSITION
Bozo the Clown, the host of a children's show on KAIT-TV in Jonesboro, Ark., asked a 5-year-old boy the other day what he wanted to be when he grew up.
"A football player," the youngster replied.
"What kind of football player?" Bozo persisted. "A quarterback? A halfback? A tailback?"
Last year, University of Iowa basketball coach Lute Olson bolted to the University of Arizona despite having six years to go on his contract. Iowa administrators meekly let Olson walk out (SCORECARD, April 11, 1983). Recently, Hawkeye football coach Hayden Fry, who has eight years to go on his contract, did Olson one better. Fry, who blames his team's 14-6 loss to Florida in last December's Gator Bowl partly on snowy weather that severely limited practice, threatened to resign unless the school built the team an indoor practice facility. He said that if his demand wasn't met, he'd quit, and "they won't even have to buy out my contract."
Did you catch that? Fry wasn't just asserting the right to be released from his contract, a la Olson. He was implying that unless he magnanimously said otherwise, the university would actually have to buy him out. And here we thought that if somebody breaches a contract, he should be the one doing the buying out. But once again, Iowa is being a pussycat. Instead of setting Fry straight on his contractual obligations, university president James O. Freedman is asking the State Board of Regents to make the football coach happy at its regular monthly meeting next week by approving architectural plans for a $3 million-plus practice facility.
ROZELLE ON GRADUATION
NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle recently wrote a piece for The New York Times in which he defended his league's refusal to draft players who have college eligibility remaining. At one point Rozelle wrote: "Critics of the NFL's policy sometimes assert that eligibility rules should not be followed, because so few players earn college degrees. However, a recent published report of a study by the American College Testing [Program] indicated that, while 52 percent of student-athletes graduate within five years, only 41.5 percent of non-athletes do so."
Rozelle's clear implication was that prospective NFLers have higher graduation rates than non-athletes. But the study he referred to covered swimmers, golfers and lacrosse players as well as football players, and walk-on football players as well as those with pro potential. The graduation rate of NFL-bound collegians? According to the Football Register, an annual publication of The Sporting News that provides educational and other background information on NFL players, 34.7% of the players on last season's NFL rosters had college degrees, well under the percentage for both non-athletes and student-athletes as a whole. By bringing swimmers and the like into a discussion of NFL graduation rates, Rozelle was confusing the issue and misleading his readers.
OH, NO, NOT AGAIN
Wire services traditionally use the code words BUST IT to kill stories during transmission. After the Denver Broncos picked defensive lineman Scott Garnett, who broke bones in his right foot three times while playing for the University of Washington, in the eighth round of last week's NFL draft, the Associated Press moved the following:
DENVER (AP)—If Scott Garnett's foot is as sound as he says it is BUST IT.
THEY SAID IT
•Brian Blados, North Carolina offensive tackle and first-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals, to reporters who seemed preoccupied with his 6'4½", 295-pound frame: "You guys measuring me for a suit or something?"
•Chuck Tanner, Pittsburgh Pirate manager, whose aunt, Alyce Bartberger, won $2.5 million in the Pennsylvania lottery, when asked if she was his favorite aunt: "She is now."
•Bill Laimbeer, the Detroit Pistons' $150,000-a-year center, whose dad, William, is executive vice-president of Toledo-based Owens-Illinois, Inc., the $3.4 billion-a-year packaging-products manufacturer: "I'm the only player in the NBA who doesn't make more than his father."
•Ken Singleton, Baltimore Oriole designated hitter, on his team's dynastic potential: "We could be the Oakland A's of the '80s, only friendlier."