ALARUMS AND NON-EXCURSIONS
Concerns about terrorism have caused some sports teams to cancel trips abroad. Last week, for example, the 7-Eleven cycling team, which includes Olympic medal-winning cyclists Alexi Grewal, Ron Kiefel and Davis Phinney, as well as Eric Heiden, announced at the last minute that it would not take part in the 2,484-mile Tour of Spain, which has just begun on Majorca. "You'd be a real easy target in a bike race," said Phinney, whose wife, retired cycling gold medalist Connie Carpenter-Phinney, has felt the pain of terrorism: A childhood friend of hers from Madison, Wis., Fred Gage, was killed in the terrorist bombing at Rome's airport last December. "When you see [photos of] the body there in the airport, it really hits home how serious it is over there," said Phinney. The 7-Eleven team said it might also withdraw from the Tour de France in July.
Football teams at Central Connecticut State, DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. and Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa have also called off trips to Europe. So have the NBA's Phoenix Suns, who were to play in Bulgaria this summer as part of the agreement that allowed Bulgarian forward Georgi Glouchkov to play in the States this season. Fear of terrorism has even affected a peewee hockey team from suburban Boston, which had to scrap a playing tour of West Germany and Austria because so many parents pulled their sons from the trip. "We just couldn't field a team," said coach Owen Hughes.
Those who still plan to compete in Europe are practicing prudence. The U.S. Baseball Federation, which will send a national team to Holland in July, is giving team members precautionary advice, including instructions not to wear U.S.A. jackets when they are walking around airports. Although the U.S. Tennis Association has scrapped plans to have American junior players compete in the Italian Junior Open in two weeks, 11 American pros are expected to be in the senior draw. For their part, Italian organizers have switched players' reservations from a downtown hotel to a heavily guarded hilltop hostel closer to the Foro Italico stadium. Players will practice on the Rome police club courts. There will be constant bomb searches of the stadium.
May 4, 1986
Some sports teams scheduled to compete in Europe are trying to arrange competition instead in presumably less volatile places, such as Australia. A Washington, D.C. organization called Sport For Understanding, which has arranged for some 35 U.S. teams to travel abroad this year, has established some new guidelines: no trips to Italy and only nonstop flights. And the NFL is trying to determine whether safety can be guaranteed for two of its teams scheduled to play on Aug. 3 before 80,000 people in Wembley Stadium outside London. The opponents are the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys, also known as America's Team.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Two years ago the infamous Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash—a.k.a. the Cannonball Run, last contested in 1979 across the highways and byways of America at breakneck speed—spawned a more sedate successor: the One Lap of America road rally. Sponsored by Uniroyal, the third annual One Lap will begin Saturday in Detroit, with a field of 130 cars set to compete on an 8,400-mile, eight-day circuit of the U.S.
Teams must maintain certain average speeds (between 22 and 51 mph) for each of 46 segments and are penalized if they pass any of the secret checkpoints either too early or too late. The winner receives a minimum of $10,000 and possibly as much as $35,000, depending on sponsor tie-ins. Anything on two axles can enter. The 1984 winner, Jeff Burnett of Warren, Vt., won in a rented Chevy station wagon with free unlimited mileage. Last year restaurateur Rocky Aoki finished 65th in a 1959 Rolls-Royce decked out with tuxedoed chauffeurs and a backseat microwave oven. This year's field includes a prototype car never seen in public (a 16-cylinder Volkswagen) and an '84 Pontiac owned by a cheese company president and painted to look like a package of cheddar.
The most expensive entry will be a $102,000 BMW equipped with five microcomputers, a transponder linking the vehicle to satellite tracking systems and various other electronic equipment. Drivers of the car, which is sponsored by Rand McNally & Co., will be able at any time to determine their location to within 15 feet.
Just in case the electronic gear isn't enough, the RM team will carry one other item: a $5.95 road atlas.
THE OLYMPIC HOOFER
Hokey smoke, Bullwinkle, did you see the paper last week? "A tap-dancing moose from Anchorage stole the show today as the 12 cities vying for the 1992 Olympics unveiled exhibits that they hope will sway the vote of the International Olympic Committee...."
That's right, a tap-dancing moose. Since 1980, Seymour of Anchorage (see more, get it?)—a walking, talking, tap-dancing moose played by schoolteacher Bonnie Rindo in costume—has been the mascot of the city's visitors bureau. With Anchorage bidding to host the 1992 Winter Games, Seymour was in Seoul last week hoofing to that moosical favorite, Wild About Anchorage, for the august sports administrators attending a meeting of national Olympic committees. "Seymour seemed to catch the other bidders by surprise," said Rick Mystrom, head of the Anchorage delegation.
In truth, Anchorage is a long shot for '92, if only because another North American city, Calgary, will be the site of the '88 Winter Games. But the Alaskans made an impressive pitch in Seoul, one that included not only Seymour's dancing and other "cultural" displays but also reminders of Anchorage's favorable location: It's equidistant from London, Tokyo and Houston, and perfect for U.S. prime-time television coverage. While the IOC is still likely to pick Falun, Sweden as the '92 Winter Olympics site when it meets this October, Anchorage remains hopeful. "We're the ones with the momentum," said Mystrom. "They don't have any moose dancing for them."
On the basketball court Scott Skiles has always outshone Phil Wendel, his former backcourt mate at Plymouth (Ind.) High School. Skiles was the MVP in the 1982 Indiana high school basketball tournament and scored 39 points in Plymouth's 75-74 double-overtime championship win over Gary Roosevelt; Wendel chipped in with 16. Skiles went on to lead the Big Ten in scoring at Michigan State this past season and is likely to be a first-round choice in June's NBA draft. Wendel also starred in college but at a more modest level; he had a career scoring average of 10.4 points a game for Division III DePauw and helped the Tigers to a 26-2 record in 1985-86.
Off the court it has been a different story. Skiles gained notoriety during college with three arrests, one for drug possession and two for driving while intoxicated. Next month he will serve a 15-day jail term for violating the probation given him after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Wendel, an honor student in high school, won the prestigious Arthur L. Trester award at the '82 tournament. That award recognizes grades and leadership as well as basketball ability; to this day signs at the Plymouth town line celebrate the state champions and Trester winner Phil Wendel. Last week Wendel was awarded one of 10 $2,000 graduate scholarships given by the NCAA in men's basketball. He will graduate May 24 with a 3.3 average in psychology and plans to attend graduate school.
Wendel, who aspires to be a basketball coach, isn't ever likely to command the big income that Skiles will in the NBA, but he says of his former teammate, "I don't think I'd trade."
BIG DEMAND FOR THE BIG PUTTER
Want the lowdown on the big black putter that Jack Nicklaus used to win the Masters, the one staff writer Rick Reilly likened to a vacuum-cleaner attachment (SI, April 21)? It's called the Response ZT—ZT for "zero twist"—the kind of name engineers think is catchy. It was designed a year ago by Clay Long, director of research and development engineering at MacGregor, the Nicklaus-owned company that manufactures the ZT. "We knew that big putters had less twist," says Long, "so I decided to carry that concept to extremes."
On the morning after the Masters, MacGregor received 5,000 orders for the putter. Since then, requests for 20,000 more ZTs have poured into MacGregor's Albany, Ga. headquarters. The company says it now faces an eight-week backlog of ZT orders, and claims post-Masters sales of the $62 club have soared to nearly $2 million. "We've all been on the phone for two weeks," MacGregor vice-president Earl Saxman said last week. "Everybody has been taking orders. People around the country are saying, 'Get me one of those big putters.' "
Until now Nicklaus's own ZT has been the only one painted black. "I thought it would make the putter look a little smaller, and the lines might be better for me," he says. For others who also desire a smaller-looking jumbo putter, MacGregor is planning to market the black version of the ZT. In commemoration of the grand win, its name will be the Jack Nicklaus 20.
FLO, THE ACTRESS
Sports fans will remember Flo Hyman, who died this past January of Marfan syndrome (SI, Feb. 17), for her prowess on the volleyball court at the 1984 Summer Olympics. Soon they will again have a chance to see her in action. Shortly before her death Hyman finished work on The Order of (he Black Eagle, an adventure film in which Rambo-type commandos take on a neo-Nazi organization. "Because of her outstanding athletic ability she was able to quickly become proficient at knife throwing and karate," says Betty Stephens, one of the executive producers of the film, which is expected to be released later this year. Matthew Mallinson, who edited the movie, adds, "She's not just standing there looking pretty. She's in one very dynamic sequence where she takes on six or seven people." Hyman's character, created especially for her, is fittingly named Spike.
THEY SAID IT
•Andy Furman, Latonia Race Course public-relations director, on the $10,000 in dining room charges rung up by the Cincinnati press corps this season: "They can read the menu better than they can the Daily Racing Form."
•Bill Walton, Celtics center, on life-style adjustments he has made since moving from L.A. to Boston: "I do a lot of the same things. I just don't do them outdoors."
•Steve Carlton (yes, Steve Carlton!), Phillies pitcher and longtime wine connoisseur, commenting on the 39° weather at a recent game in Montreal's Olympic Stadium: "This place would make a good wine cellar."
•Bill Parcells, New York Giants coach, after watching a baseball game attended by only 3,223 people in another wine cellar, 38° Cleveland Stadium: "The place was so empty they could have held archery practice."