A SURPLUS OF ILL WILL
Controversy continues to surround the profit generated by the Los Angeles Olympics. The LAOOC now says that sum is $155.5 million, instead of the $150 million originally announced (SCORECARD, Sept. 24). Committee insiders speculate that the figure may eventually reach $180 million. More to the point, LAOOC general manager Harry Usher recently admitted to the Los Angeles Times that he had realized on the eve of the Games that the organization might be sitting on a surplus of $60 million to $80 million—and this at a time when the LAOOC was officially predicting only a $15 million surplus.
The gap between the LAOOC's projected and actual figures is disturbing. In pleading financial uncertainty even after it knew that uncertainty had dissipated, the LAOOC abused the good will of private contractors, local government officials and its own employees. Of the LAOOC's 80,000 workers, 60,000 were unpaid volunteers; LAOOC president Peter Ueberroth (now the commissioner of baseball) made a grand gesture when he publicly declined to accept his salary for the last of his five years on the job, saying, "I'm a volunteer, too." But Ueberroth received bonuses and severance pay after the Olympics totaling more than half a million dollars (which he has put in a charitable trust). Usher received a $350,000 bonus.
The LAOOC defends such payments as being in line with those in the corporate world, an argument belied by the fact that corporations ordinarily don't compensate top executives so handsomely while prevailing on underlings to work for free. One Olympic volunteer told the Times that he and others had offered to work without pay because "we were told there just wasn't any money." A municipal official said, "They built the surplus by squeezing, bleeding and gouging."
November 26, 1984
The Games' profit is also a sore point with the U.S. Olympic Committee, but for a different reason. Ueberroth has said the LAOOC intended to put $3.5 million to $5 million of the surplus in a Friendship Fund for Third World countries that made a financial sacrifice to send athletes to the L.A. Games. The USOC says the surplus funds are not the LAOOC's to give away. In 1979 the USOC agreed to be the financial guarantor of the Games (the city of Los Angeles flatly refused to). The USOC was to receive 40% of any surplus; another 40% was to go to Southern California youth sports programs and 20% to U.S. sports governing bodies. Usher called the USOC's opposition to the Friendship Fund "greedy and rapacious-looking." USOC president William Simon told SI's Bob Sullivan, "It's unfortunate Usher would use a term like that. We're a business. We have an agreement. We have a deal with them."
Usher argued, "The countries we're talking about paid...for press and Olympic Village accommodations. If we'd known where we'd be financially, we wouldn't have had to take that money. Basically, it's like returning a deposit to them."
But apparently the LAOOC did know where it was financially, giving rise to the suspicion that the committee was grandstanding, wanting to make itself look marvelously efficient by piling up the biggest surplus it could, and then appear gracious and magnanimous by contributing some of that money to Third World countries.
Then the International Olympic Committee got into the act. IOC officials were said to have been "shocked" by the size of the surplus, and recalled financial support it had given the LAOOC. Two weeks ago IOC president Juan Samaranch urged the LAOOC to go beyond the Friendship Fund and use as much as $7 million of the surplus to reimburse all other countries, not just those in the Third World, for the cost of competing at Los Angeles.
The real bottom line is that the Olympic flame is being run backward.
Around the table in Grand Junction, Colo., everyone waited silently while 8-year-old Zack Barnett pondered the Trivial Pursuit question "Who wrote The Defense Never Rests?" The adults knew the answer was F. Lee Bailey, but they meticulously avoided giving the youngster any hints.
Finally, Zack shrugged. "The Denver Broncos?" he guessed.
They used to name streets after Presidents. Now they name Presidents to All-America teams. At least, Stephen Ambrose has. A University of New Orleans history professor who has written a two-volume biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ambrose recently picked an all-Presidential team that had George Washington at quarterback ("You can't ignore the mighty arm, capable of throwing a pass across the Rappahannock. Also, he's the only man who has the absolute, unqualified respect of all the others. They'd follow him anywhere. Never one to panic, he'd be a master of the two-minute drill"); Abraham Lincoln at tight end ("He had everything. He was big, rawboned, fast, loved physical contact. A solid, all-around athlete specializing in wrestling, the best possible training for playing tight end. Well over six feet, he makes an excellent target"); and Harry Truman at inside linebacker ("Truman has the pugnacious quality necessary...as well as another vital asset, his association with the policy of containment").
Not all of Ambrose's comments are laudatory. Of Jimmy Carter at the other inside linebacker post in his 4-4-3 setup Ambrose says (somewhat gratuitously, he admits), "I wanted to put [Carter] somewhere, and here is where he'll do the least harm." Of cornerbacks Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge: "Hoover was always on the defensive, so at least he's used to it. Coolidge liked to fish." And of safety Warren G. Harding: "A good safety knows how to steal a pass now and then. Harding is the best President we ever had at stealing."
Barely a month after beating the San Diego Padres in the World Series, the Detroit Tigers have been hit with the loss of pitching coach Roger Craig and batting coach Gates Brown, both of whom have resigned.
What's all this? Trouble in paradise? Well, partly. Brown, a longtime Detroit favorite (he was the pinch-hitting hero of the Tigers' 1968 world championship team), quit in anger because the Tigers refused to give him a substantial raise. Brown supposedly wanted $50,000; the Tigers offered $42,500. The Tigers' figure represented a 7½% increase, the standard raise the club was giving all non-playing personnel. Because Detroit led the majors in home runs and RBIs, Brown felt his contributions deserved a bigger salute than that. Management didn't agree and, in effect, told Brown to take it or leave it. He left it.
As for Craig, he said in spring training that this would probably be his last year, that he wanted to pack it in and rejoin his wife, children and grandchildren in Southern California. In July he notified the club that his mind was made up: He'd retire at the end of the season.
Although the Tigers tried to dissuade him (whether they sweetened the pot for him is not known, but Craig's salary—pitching coaches are usually well paid—was higher than Brown's), last week Craig made it official. Rumors persist that he may yet unretire and sign with the Padres—he was San Diego's pitching coach for seven seasons and its manager in 1978 and '79—since he could live at home. In any case, Craig wouldn't mind seeing an old friend from San Diego take his place in Detroit. He's Norm Sherry, who was dropped as Padres pitching coach after the San Diego starters did so poorly against Detroit in the Series.
MOTHER KNOWS BEST
Strath Haven High School in the Philadelphia suburbs has a 280-pound defensive lineman named Nate Much. He wears an XXX-size T shirt under his jersey that bears the motto MUCH IS TOO MUCH, and, naturally, his nickname is Too. Anyone that big with a nickname to match is supposed to be mean and nasty, but Too Much isn't. When a rival center, a relatively scrawny 180-pounder, slugged Much during a game, the big fellow refused to retaliate. The center was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Much wasn't, and Strath Haven won. And why had Much declined to retaliate? "I don't like to fight," he explained. "It upsets my mom."
SIDESHOW FOR A CHAIN GANG
Hamilton College, a Division III school in upstate New York, finished its football season with a gratifying 6-1-1 record, its first winning year since 1967. But what followers of the Continentals may remember even longer is the "chain gang," three puckish students who operated the first-down chain and the down marker at Hamilton's home games. Seniors Mark Isaf and Dave Weiner, who handled the 10-yard chain, and Larry Kollath, who held the marker, livened things up by wearing oddball costumes. As the flow of action moved back and forth, there they were on the sidelines—in gorilla suits at one game, in scuba equipment at another, in drag, in real chain-gang prisoners' stripes and, finally, for Hamilton's season-ending 10-3 upset of traditional rival Union, in tailcoats.
Isaf, Weiner and Kollath, all varsity athletes (Isaf plays lacrosse and basketball, Weiner baseball and Kollath basketball), paid strict attention to their duties during games but still had a lot of fun. "No matter where we were," Isaf said, "Dave and I always seemed to be 10 yards apart." Weiner said, "Ice and I have a good relationship, but Larry kept coming between us."
THEY SAID IT
•Jim Walden, Washington State football coach, after Cougar running back Reuben Mayes of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, set an NCAA single-game rushing record with 357 yards against Oregon: "I can't wait until all those other coaches go up to North Battleford to recruit. You won't see them again before the spring thaw."
•Harry Larrabee, University of Alaska at Anchorage basketball coach, asked to assess his team's talent after a preseason conditioning session: "We've got some guys who can do push-ups, and we've got some guys who can do sit-ups."
•Al McGuire, NBC-TV college basketball commentator, disparaging the intelligence of football players: "They do one-arm push-ups so that they can count with the other hand."
•Lou Holtz, Minnesota football coach: "I admire the loyalty of Minnesotans. They voted for Mondale, and they keep watching us."
•Orlando Woolridge, Chicago Bulls forward, on having star rookie Michael Jordan on the team: "It's like being on tour with the Jacksons. He's Michael, and we're the Jacksons."
•Dave Krieg, Seattle Seahawks quarterback, a graduate of now defunct Milton College in Wisconsin, on what, it means to him to have his old school closed down: "I won't get a football field named after me. Then again, I won't have to pay any alumni dues."