The International Olympic Committee's frustration is showing. Two weeks ago the IOC held a special meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland to see what it could do about preventing future boycotts of the Games. It wound up doing next to nothing. Not only that, but IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch conceded that if relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union don't improve by 1988, he's sure that the Olympic movement will once again have "difficulties." Noting that the governments of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were responsible for the boycotts that damaged the Summer Games in 1980 and 1984, Samaranch concluded, with an air of discovery, "The world is ruled by politicians."
The IOC at first kicked around the idea, which was supported by the Americans among others, of imposing strong sanctions on boycotting countries by banning them from participating in one or more subsequent Olympics. But that action was ultimately rejected in the belief that it would only punish the athletes. Instead, the IOC merely decreed that national Olympic officials of countries that boycott wouldn't be accredited to attend the boycotted Games. Moreover, efforts would be made to persuade international sports federations to prohibit citizens of boycotting countries from serving as judges and referees at those Games.
The IOC shouldn't have bothered. For one thing, many national Olympic committee officials are also IOC members and would be accredited as such—a rather significant loophole in the new sanction. As for other Olympic officials of boycotting nations, if they wish to attend the Games, they presumably can do so simply by buying tickets. Besides, if governments are the ones calling the shots, as Samaranch said, it makes no more sense to punish Olympic officials of the offending nations than it does their athletes. Banning judges and referees would only compound the injustice and, not incidentally, further diminish the quality of the Games.
The best you can say for the watered-down sanction adopted by the IOC is that it's an expression of how strongly the organization feels about boycotts. But the measure also symbolizes something else: the IOC's impotence in insulating the Olympics from the political realities of the world.
THE PROJECTED WINNER
If you don't think Doug Flutie had the Heisman Trophy locked up long before the big Dec. 1 announcement at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York, you should have overheard a conversation a few days earlier at the Abbey Tavern in Manhattan. A member of the club's Heisman committee was having a beer and shooting the breeze with Mike Jewell, the bartender. The committeeman rhapsodized about Flutie's heroics during the thrilling Boston College-Miami game the previous week, but when Jewell asked who was going to win the trophy, the club man clammed up. "Oh, I can't tell you that," he said. "That's a secret. But I can tell you which players we've invited to the ceremony. There's Flutie, of course. And, let's see now, there's uh, um...that kid he played against. Uh...."
"Kosar?" the bartender suggested.
"Yeah, yeah, Kosar. And there's one more. He's, uh, a running back. From, um, the Midwest somewhere."
"Byars, Ohio State?"
"Yeah, Byars. That's right."
"But you can't tell me who the winner is, eh?"
"No, sir. Sorry."
THE WORD OF MOSES
Moses Malone is all business, on court and off. Even when he recently scored his 15,000th NBA point at the Spectrum, resulting in the Philadelphia 76ers' game with the Indiana Pacers being halted so he could be ceremonially presented with the ball, he didn't really unbend. The referee gave Malone the ball, and he casually tossed it back, his attitude clearly saying, "Let's get on with the game." He didn't milk the situation at all. There was a round of applause from the crowd, some quick congratulations from his teammates, and that was about all.
Afterward, as Stan Hochman of the Philadelphia Daily News reported, somebody suggested to Malone that if he opened up a little and let people get closer to him, "he could own this town."
Malone's reaction was brief and to the point. "I don't need a town," he said. "I really don't. The fans are great to me. I try to be great to the fans. But I'm just trying to help the 76ers win. I'm not some guy here on an ego trip, trying to own a town."
A few days before Willie deWit, the Canadian heavyweight boxer who got the silver medal at the L.A. Olympics, was to make his pro debut on Dec. 1 in Edmonton, his scheduled opponent, Al Degrate of Phoenix, bowed out with a broken finger. Rocky Young, a Trinidadian living in Mexico, was lined up as a substitute, but he ran into passport snags, possibly because he'd also fought as Jerry Williams, John Williams, James Williams, Rocky Young and—having just about exhausted the permutations—Young Williams. Another possible opponent was found, one Abdul Muhammad of Dallas, who was said to have a 17-10 record, but deWit's manager, Harry Snatic, nixed that match because "we checked him out and his record really was 1-17." Then a midnight call was made to Ed Morgan, who'd just gone to bed after his shift as an auto mechanic in Lake Charles, La. Hours later Morgan was "terrified" to be making his first airplane trip.
He should have had some qualms about meeting deWit, too. On the mistaken assumption that Morgan was a native of Meridian, Miss., Louisiana Boxing Commission secretary-treasurer Mike Cusimano told an Edmonton reporter who called to check on the fighter, "I don't have much confidence in anybody from Meridian. All they bring over here are 'tomato cans,' guys who can't fight." Actually, Morgan was born in Hattiesburg, Miss. Also, he looked more like a tomato than a can, packing 247 roundish pounds on his 5'11" frame. He was billed as having an 8-1 record, but Edmonton boxing authorities could verify only one result—a knockout loss in September in Houston, where Morgan fought under the name of Walter Morris. They were unable to confirm information that he'd also lost at least one fight as Al Morgan. To add to the confusion, there was a published report—apparently untrue—that he might also be Robert Morgan, who had an 0-4 record, including three first-round knockouts.
Morgan got to the second round against deWit before being sent reeling into the ropes with a left to the flab and decked with a right to the head. DeWit then put him away for good with a flurry of punches. Spectators hooted at the mismatch, which prompted Morgan's trainer, Harold Burcham, to shout at them, "You try getting in here." Morgan blew a kiss to one heckler, and later, in his dressing room, he grabbed a roll of fat on his stomach and said, "This is a spare tire. This comes from eating a lot of steaks. This is out of shape to be an opponent for a guy's professional debut."
DeWit said, "I'm just glad to get the first one out of the way."
HOPE FOR THE HUSKIES
If Washington upsets Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, the Huskies could win the national championship, assuming that certain other things also happen—a Michigan defeat of BYU in the Holiday Bowl, an LSU victory over Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl and a spurning of outlaw Florida by the polls. If all this comes to pass, Washington will have finished No. 1 in the country but No. 2 in its own conference. The Huskies, 10-1 on the season, finished 6-1 in the Pac-10 and were runner-up to 7-1 USC.
To find a comparable situation, one need only look at Steubenville (Ohio) High's fate. Steubenville was edged out this year by Brooke (W. Va.) High in the 11-team AAAA division of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, which consists of schools in eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia. Steubenville had a 10-0 regular-season record, and Brooke was 9-1, but the conference determines its divisional champions on the basis of an exotic rating system that takes into account such factors as the number of boys in the school and difficulty of schedule as well as won-lost records. But Steubenville found considerable solace by going on to win Ohio's Division II state championship, beating previously undefeated Columbus Whitehall in the final game 12-9 in overtime.
It's a happy ending story that Washington should find inspirational.
RUN IT DOWN THE FLAGPOLE
Nike, the sports shoe company, prints its logo prominently on the bottoms of its football shoes. In case you're wondering why, the thinking is simple: Football players spend a lot of time on the ground, with the soles of their feet visible. When TV focuses in on those feet, there's NIKE for all the world to see. Hey, that's heads-down thinking, guys.
Auburn fans aren't laughing about the football Tigers' 17-15 upset on Dec. 1 by Alabama, which cost the team a trip to the Sugar Bowl. Instead the Tigers will play Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Nor are Auburn fans laughing about the circumstances of the defeat, which was sealed in the closing minutes by Brent Fullwood's failure to score from the one-yard line when he ran right as two of his blockers mistakenly went left. But Tiger rooters especially aren't amused by the joke that has since been making the rounds in Alabama:
Q. What's the quickest way to get to Memphis?
A. Go to the one-yard line and take a right.
After his team blew a 17-7 lead and lost to Cincinnati 20-17 in overtime on Dec. 2, Cleveland Browns coach Marty Schottenheimer found plenty to criticize about his players' performance. But Schottenheimer, to his credit, also was moved to express displeasure with the way two of his players, defensive backs Hanford Dixon and Al Gross, whooped it up over an injury early in the game to Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth. Dixon and Gross taunted the supine Collinsworth after he'd been laid out by a hard hit by Browns cornerback Frank Minnifield. Collinsworth left the game with knee and ankle injuries and a fogged memory.
Referring to the unsportsmanlike display by Dixon and Gross, Schottenheimer said, "We have no place for that in our game. The guy across the line of scrimmage is you. He just happens to wear a different uniform. I have too much respect for what it takes to play. Their actions were intolerable to me. Whether they will be fined, that will be a private matter, best left in-house. But it better not happen again."
THEY SAID IT
•Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, asked if there's anything he can no longer do after more than 15 seasons in the NBA: "I can't run my fingers through my hair."
•Jody Conradt, Texas women's basketball coach, lamenting a schedule that had the second-ranked Longhorns playing road games just 48 hours apart against top-ranked Georgia and No. 3 Old Dominion: "We tried to pick up a game with the Boston Celtics, but they were busy."
•Steve Yoder, Wisconsin basketball coach, shrugging off the loss of Big Ten scoring and rebounding leader Cory Blackwell to the NBA's hardship draft: "We finished 10th with him. We can't finish any worse without him."
•Reijo Ruotsalainen, Rangers defenseman and a bachelor, asked what person he'd most like to meet: "My wife."
•Butch van Breda Kolff, whose current job as Lafayette College basketball coach is his 10th in a career that began 33 years ago: "Roberto Duran said, 'No màs.' My motto is 'No moss.' "