GOOD SENSE, GOOD HEALTH
Scientists keep finding truth in folk wisdom. Recent studies on the relationship of dietary fiber and heart disease suggest that eating an apple a day—or, really, an apple plus plenty of vegetables and oat bran—can help keep the doctor away. And last week researchers from Dallas released the results of a study that provide conclusive evidence that being physically fit can prolong your life.
Using data accumulated over 15 years from 13,000 men and women, a team from the Institute for Aerobics Research and the Cooper Clinic found that even becoming modestly fit—through, say, a half-hour walk each day—can dramatically reduce one's chances of dying from cancer, heart disease and other afflictions. 'The high level of fitness you'd expect to find in a well-trained athlete isn't required," says the study's director, Dr. Steven Blair. "Just getting out of the least-fit category into the moderate-fitness category provides substantial benefits."
Indeed, the mortality rate of the unfit group in Blair's study was twice as high as that of the slightly more fit group. Highly fit people were found to have an even lower mortality rate, though the additional benefit was less dramatic. Sadly, only 10% to 20% of U.S. adults work out vigorously and often; by contrast, 20% to 30% are pure couch potatoes. "I'm not telling runners to slow down," says Blair. "I'm saying to others. Turn off the TV, get up and move around a little bit.' "
THE KING OR THE COLONEL?
To publicize its double-decker cheeseburgers, the BK DOUBLE line, Burger King thought it would be clever to do a promotion with this season's major league leader in doubles. Surprisingly, the fast-food chain followed through on the idea, even though the doubles leader was the Boston Red Sox's Wade Boggs, who eats chicken before every game.
A funny thing happened to Brian Bergstrom at the Nebraska state high school cross-country meet in Kearney. An instant before the crack of the pistol, as he toed the line with the 125 other entrants in the 3.1-mile race, Bergstrom, who's the No. 1 runner for Holdrege High, was stung on the back by a bee. He took off in pain and panic, afraid of being stung again. Meanwhile, the starter fired his gun twice—once to start the race and a second time to call back the runners because Bergstrom had false-started.
Bergstrom, a junior, was stunned when the starter told him he had been disqualified for jumping the gun. Bergstrom ended up in tears, with a three-inch welt on his back, and his teammates, trying to take up the slack, went out too fast in the race and then faded. Holdrege finished a disappointing ninth among the 18 teams that were entered.
A SHOW OF HEART
Shortly after the Texas football team beat bitter rival Arkansas 24-20 three weeks ago in Fayetteville, Ark., Chester Cunningham, 58, whose son, Ed, plays offensive tackle for the Long-horns, suffered a massive heart attack just outside Razorback Stadium. "One minute we were all chanting 'Cotton Bowl!" in the dressing room," says Ed. "The next thing I know, I'm holding my mother—crying."
What followed was an exceptional display of compassion by the folks at Arkansas. The night after the game, as doctors at a Fayetteville hospital worked to keep Chester alive, Razorback trainer Dean Weber and football coach Ken Hatfield stayed with the Cunningham family in the waiting room, offering support. By Sunday it was apparent that Chester would pull through.
During the next week, Hatfield visited Chester in the hospital twice a day, and more than 30 Razorback players and school chancellor Daniel Ferritor also went to see him. The Arkansas athletic department paid to put the Cunninghams up at a local hotel and let them eat in the athletic dining hall. Hatfield gave Ed clean clothes and allowed him to work out in the team weight room. When doctors decided on Oct. 31 that Chester could be moved to a hospital in Amarillo, closer to the Cunninghams' home in Fritch, Texas, no airline would accept him as a passenger—so Arkansas flew him to Amarillo in the school's private jet. (Cunningham is still recovering at High Plains Baptist Hospital.)
"What those people did for Ed is really an inspiration," says Texas coach David McWilliams. Says Hatfield, "It's what you'd want someone else to do for you or yours."
Not all the news out of Fayetteville is so cheering. On Oct. 11 police there arrested Arkansas senior Mike Grace, 28, a brother of Chicago Cub first baseman Mark Grace, for bookmaking. They also confiscated a list of about 150 alleged clients. Because the list included the names of six Razorback athletes—one basketball player, two golfers and three baseball players—and three former Arkansas football players, chancellor Ferritor asked law professor Al Witte, Arkansas's faculty representative for athletics, to look into the matter.
Witte, who happens to be president of the NCAA, made an embarrassing discovery: His son, Robert, a 27-year-old Arkansas graduate, and Ferritor's son, Sean, 20, an Arkansas sophomore, were on Grace's list. "I gave new meaning to the words in-house investigation," said the elder Witte. Sean Ferritor said his dad "was not pleased" by the news. The local county prosecutor is still investigating the case, and Witte is trying to figure out what action, if any, Arkansas and the NCAA should take against the Razorback athletes named on the list.
Wayne Gretzky recently surpassed Gordie Howe's record for most points in a pro hockey career, right? Wrong. Gretzky eclipsed Howe's NHL mark of 1,850 points, but he remains a distant second to Howe if you include stats from the World Hockey Association, which was, after all, a major league. Howe accumulated 508 points in six years in the WHA, while Gretzky had 110 points in his lone WHA season. On the alltime list, therefore, Howe leads with 2,358 points, and Gretzky is second, nearly 400 behind him.
'I ENJOY STRESS'
On Oct. 21, in a heated session in Denver, the U.S. Olympic Committee executive board appointed Southeastern Conference commissioner Harvey Schiller as USOC executive director, ousting Baaron Pittenger. Schiller, 50, had been the executive director once before (when he replaced George Miller in early 1988), but he resigned for personal reasons only 19 days after taking office. While Pittenger's backers complained about their man's unceremonious and costly dumping—the USOC has spent some $535,000 on buyout packages for Pittenger and Miller, the two directors Schiller has replaced—others hailed Schiller as the marketing whiz the USOC needs for the 1990s. In an interview with SI staff writer Robert Sullivan, Schiller offered lofty goals, though few specifics. Some excerpts:
SI: When you left the USOC so abruptly, it was speculated that you had been found to have skin cancer, now cured.
Schiller: There were personal reasons. I never identified them.
SI: It was also speculated that you had been put off by management hassles and disorganization at the USOC.
Schiller: I wanted to make some substantial contributions. I felt it was just not possible for me to do it then.
SI: Have things changed?
Schiller: The USOC is a better organization than it was two years ago. It's still not perfect. We want to be the best-run business in America.
SI: Will you be reorganizing anything?
Schiller: If we have to make structural changes to make it a better organization, we will. If we have to turn it inside out to make it better, we'll do it. There are plenty of changes ahead.
SI: Do you expect any resentment from Pittenger's supporters?
Schiller: They'll judge me by my performance. If they want to judge me any other way, that's their problem.
SI: Your track record of hiring more women and minorities at the SEC has drawn applause. How will you effect similar changes on the USOC staff?
Schiller: You establish [numerical] goals and work toward them. No one in the USOC should look around and see that he or she is the only one of a certain color.
SI: USOC vice-president George Steinbrenner has said that the heaviest funding should be directed toward the elite athletes, the ones who can earn medals.
Schiller: George is correct. Even when Baron de Coubertin [father of the modern Olympics] talked about participation, he really was addressing the above-average athlete. In paying attention to grass-roots programs, we don't want to neglect the elite athlete. But I think the USOC has an obligation to develop athletic opportunities for all America. That's my basic goal.
SI: Steroids have lately cast a cloud over the Olympic movement.
Schiller: The steroids issue is all about ethics. I read something the other day: More than a thousand high school seniors were asked how far they would stretch ethical standards to get ahead in the business world. Thirty-six percent said they would plagiarize to pass a certification test. Sixty-seven percent would inflate their business-expense reports. Sixty-six percent would lie to achieve a business objective.
What are we telling young people? We've taught kids that it's acceptable to cheat to get ahead. I want the USOC to be part of an educational effort [to instill a sense of ethics].
SI: Why did you return to the USOC?
Schiller: The opportunity to extend peace-and understanding is important to me, and the Olympic movement is a unique way of bringing people together. I also like challenges. I really, really do. I think I'm one of the few people in the world who actually enjoys stress.
THEY SAID IT
•Steve Alvarez, ABC sportscaster, on Ohio State's mammoth offensive linemen: "When they go into a restaurant, they don't look at a menu. They get an estimate."