SUGAR SWEETENS ITS POT
The Sugar Bowl is dead, long live the USF&G Sugar Bowl! That's the name of the new football game to be played in New Orleans each New Year's Day. Last week the 52-year-old Sugar Bowl entered into a five-year agreement with the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Insurance Company, a firm that in the past has sponsored golf and tennis tournaments. In exchange for a large but undisclosed sum of money, USF&G receives ticket options, invitations to parties, ad space in the program and the all-important "name sponsorship." The fact sheet handed out at last week's announcement brags: "The Sugar Bowl becomes the first of the four major New Year's Day bowls to gain name-sponsor involvement, the necessity for the future."
The necessity? Is the FTD Rose Bowl inevitable? The Tropicana Orange Bowl? Don't bet against it, say the folks at the Sugar...er, USF&G Sugar Bowl. The unstable climate in TV sports has left uncertain the prospect of lucrative network contracts (SI, Feb. 24). The Sugar Bowl in particular has been hard hit by new realities. Trounced in the ratings for three straight years by the Orange Bowl, the game hasn't made the folks at ABC Sports happy about their $4 million-a-year contract. That deal expires Jan. 1, and the Bowl committee sensed it might be on shaky ground in negotiations if the ratings don't improve this time around. A more stable financial base was needed. Six weeks ago Sugar Bowl officials let it be known that the game was for sale, and now the bowl has its security blanket. "We're extremely excited about this agreement, because it most certainly insures the future financial security of the Sugar Bowl," says Thomas C. Wicker, president of the Sugar Bowl. Jack Moseley, chairman of USF&G, says, "Sponsoring the Sugar Bowl is an absolutely wonderful marketing opportunity...the Sugar Bowl enables us to associate with a unique national event—a real piece of Americana."
So everybody's happy. But what about Joe Fan? Does he enjoy seeing his hallowed events, his pieces of Americana, turned into billboards? Even USF&G is sensitive about this point. "I can understand that; the old-school side of me says, This is a bit heretical," says W. Minor Carter, a USF&G vice-president who was instrumental in making the Sugar Bowl deal. "I can understand their concern, but that's the way we're going to go. I can only seek to assure them that we're not going to mess with the Sugar Bowl."
October 27, 1986
DOWN THE TUBE
Suppose they gave a hockey game and nobody watched? That happened in the New York television market for one half-hour last Wednesday night. While the American League playoff game between the Red Sox and the Angels attracted 37% of those who were watching TV, the audience for Channel 9's Blackhawks-Rangers telecast was too small even to measure.
PLAYING HARDBALL IN SOFTBALL
Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum, a former running back for the San Francisco 49ers, obviously hasn't forgotten how to play rough. Two weeks ago, during a league championship softball game between Pete's Posse and the County-USC Medical Center team, Schabarum, trying to score from third on an infield grounder, creamed the catcher. The score was tied 5-5 in the seventh when Schabarum, who had been tagged out by the catcher three innings earlier, stormed home. "If you're interested in getting across the plate, somebody's gotta give," said Schabarum after the game. "The lady was standing flat square in the middle of the plate."
The lady? That's right: Margie Morales is a 50-year-old grandmother of five who stands 5'1" and weighs 135 pounds. "I saw that look on his face, and I knew I was going to get it," she said. "He plowed into me like a train." Morales held onto the ball, Schabarum was called out and a bench-clearing brawl ensued. Then Morales was taken to a hospital, where she was examined and released. The Posse went on to win the game 10-9 in 10 innings for its fifth straight league title. Should opponents think a chastened Schabarum will go easier next year, they might consider that the supervisor hasn't expressed remorse over the incident—in fact, he has said he would do it again.
NEW BLOOD IN THE IOC
Four new members were elected to the International Olympic Committee last week, among them two former Olympic activists. The Congo's Jean-Claude Ganga, 52, was secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa in 1976. As such he was the organizer of the 26-nation African boycott of the Montreal Games. Now he joins the organization that, by not taking a strong stand on apartheid, once moved him to protest.
In 1980, oarswoman Anita DeFrantz led the athletes' opposition to Jimmy Carter's Olympic boycott. She sued the U.S. Olympic Committee to send a team to Moscow and received the Olympic Order for her efforts. Now DeFrantz, 34, a member of the USOC and director of programs at the Amateur Athletic Foundation of L.A., ascends to the IOC itself.
DeFrantz was one of three U.S. candidates to succeed Julian K. Roosevelt, a 12-year member from New York who died this March. The other two choices were TV commentator and former swimming champion Donna de Varona, and baseball commissioner and former head of the LAOOC Peter Ueberroth. When the candidacies were put before the IOC executive board, president Juan Antonio Samaranch boosted Ueberroth but met instant resistance. Insiders speculate that Ueberroth's strong personality intimidated some board members and that he might have lost support when, in the autobiography he published last year, he detailed his battles with IOC officials. Dick Pound of Canada, a member of the IOC executive board and a possible successor to Samaranch, says, "What tipped the balance was, first, Anita was a woman. We don't have many women. Second, she was black. There has been a lot of contribution to American sports from America's black athletes, and this is a way of recognizing that contribution." DeFrantz, the fifth woman on the 93-member IOC, is both the first black American and the first American woman ever to serve on the IOC.
GOOD NEWS FOR MAC, MAC AND MARCO
Three athletes, variously embattled, experienced welcome changes in status recently:
•John McEnroe, suspended from Davis Cup competition by U.S. Tennis Association president Randy Gregson (SCORECARD, Sept. 8), will most likely be allowed to play next year. USTA president-elect Gordon Jorgensen, who will succeed Gregson early next year, thinks the captain of the U.S. team, currently Tom Gorman, should have the right to name his players. "There really is a basic issue that transcends John McEnroe," Jorgensen told International Tennis Weekly. "That's the right and responsibility of the Davis Cup captain to pick the team. John is, of course, the secondary issue. Should the captain want to pick John...then that would happen when I'm president."
•Mac O'Grady, who was fined $5,000 and suspended from six PGA tournaments for derogatory comments about Tour officials (SCORECARD, March 17), has served his time and is eligible to play again. The volatile O'Grady is expected to tee it up this week at a Tour event in San Antonio.
•Marco Baldi, St. John's 6'11" sophomore center, has had his eligibility restored by the NCAA. Baldi had been suspended for this entire season and four games of the next for accepting a plane ticket and approximately $11,000 in education expenses from the Simac basketball team of Milan, for which the Italian-born Baldi played each summer. St. John's appealed, arguing that the NCAA had reconsidered other penalties when violations were proved to be inadvertent. This leniency, granted by the appeals subcommittee of the NCAA's eligibility committee, is conditional upon Baldi repaying the 11 grand. Baldi said his father is taking out a bank loan, and added, "I don't have to say how I feel, because I feel very good."
SOUR MARKET FOR A BEAUTIFUL BREED
Arabian horses, those stylish steeds who hold their distinctive heads and tails high, have long been regarded as good if expensive investments (SI, Jan. 13). In the past decade, prices for Arabians have gone nowhere but up. In 1984 a mare, NH Love Potion, sold for a record $2.55 million, and last year 19 mares brought a record average price of $568,684 at a single auction.
But this year the market for Arabians has suddenly and drastically softened. At the 13 prestigious Scottsdale Sales auctions, 339 horses were sold for an average of $85,321, less than half of last year's, and the top-selling horse went for $575,000. This marked the first time in the 20-year history of the Sales that prices were lower than the previous year's average. Some breeders estimate that prices are off by 50% industry-wide, and that ain't hay. The busted market has the Arabian community in a blather. Joseph O. Morrissey Jr. of St. Louis, the not-so-proud owner of NH Love Potion, has filed a $12 million suit against the auctioneers who conducted the horse's sale, charging them with "artificially inflating the prices and values of Arabian horses." The monthly magazine Arabian Horse World recently devoted 42 pages to a discussion of the sour market and suggestions for reviving it. No remedy seems imminent, because no one knows for sure what caused the downturn. The federal tax reforms have some buyers concerned, but a larger reason for the slump may be a dawning realization that Arabians, which are undeniably sweet and pretty show horses, don't pay their way. Only a very few of them ever race at the track and then only for relatively small purses. Jay Stream, past president of the International Arabian Horse Association, told Arabian Horse World that a big investment in Arabians would make him "about as comfortable as investing in Three Mile Island."
—J. E. VADER
THEY SAID IT
•Clark Gillies, Buffalo Sabres left wing and a native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, when asked where Moose Jaw is: "Six feet from the moose's behind."
•Johnny Carson, seeing a silver lining in the California Angels' ongoing futility: "That champagne they're keeping in the locker room is getting more valuable every year."