WOMEN NOT WELCOME
Many of the barriers facing women sportswriters have fallen, but at least two have not. They are named Jack Morris and Bo Schembechler.
Morris, the Detroit Tiger pitcher, behaved inexcusably before a recent game at Tiger Stadium when Jennifer Frey, a sportswriter intern for the Detroit Free Press, approached him to get some comments for a story on baseball's latest collusion ruling. Before Frey could get out a question, Morris, who was wearing only sliding shorts, snapped, "I don't talk to people when I'm naked, especially women, unless they're on top of me or I'm on top of them." Frey turned and left.
Free Press publisher Neal Shine wrote Schembechler, the Tigers' team president, to complain about Morris's conduct. Schembechler sent back a letter stating that Morris's treatment of Frey was "out of line but predictable," considering that "your intern watched men from 20 to 65 years of age undress and dress for more than half an hour without asking questions." As if that innuendo weren't insulting enough, Schembechler continued, "Your sports editor's lack of common sense in sending a female college intern in a men's clubhouse caused the problem. I really wouldn't doubt that the whole thing was a scam orchestrated by you people to create a story.... [R]est assured no female member of my family would be inside a men's locker room regardless of their job description."
Frey, who has worked at the Free Press since graduating from Harvard last spring, says that she had gone into the Tigers' locker room to talk to the subject of a feature she was writing, Tiger catcher Mike Heath, who hadn't shown up for a scheduled pregame interview with her in the dugout. After waiting in vain for Heath to come out of the shower, she decided to approach Morris.
As courts have noted, women reporters would be at a considerable disadvantage if denied the locker-room access their male counterparts enjoy. "What upsets me the most is that this proves there is a big problem for women even after we've won the legal right to be in the locker room," says Frey. "We think we've won the battle, but we haven't."
A HAPPY CAMPER
"When I was seven I asked my father why he gave me the name," says University of Kansas offensive coordinator Golden Ruel. "He said it was a choice between that and Slide." Ruel, who sometimes goes by his middle name, Pat, seems to have inherited his father's offbeat humor. When the Jayhawk football team begins two-a-day drills this week, Ruel will pitch a tent on the practice field near the tackling dummies and move in. He plans to spend his nights there until shortly before Kansas's Sept. 1 season opener against Virginia.
"Fall camp is tough, and there has to be something you can laugh at," says Ruel, who has already persuaded a few school officials to join him for a night apiece. "It's my way of telling the players, 'Hey, fellas, I'm willing to tough it out with you.' "
Ruel's four-year-old daughter, Sabra, doesn't understand why her dad is moving out. Ruel's wife, Marti, says her husband is just being predictably unpredictable. "I think he's crazy," she says. "But he's a very creative and committed coach. I hope that while he's sleeping under the stars, he dreams up some great offensive plays. I also hope that when he calls home late in the evening, he doesn't expect room service."
SEE NO EVIL
When asked before last week's PGA Championship (page 20) for his views on the controversy over discriminatory membership practices at private golf clubs (SI, July 23 et seq.), Payne Stewart pleaded ignorance—and sounded like a man well endowed with that quality. "It's none of my business," Stewart said, "I play golf for a living. I think the players probably are making more jokes about it than anything else."
He didn't stop there. "I think the whole thing's been blown out of proportion," Stewart told reporters. "That's something you guys are pretty good at—blowing things out of proportion."
Pro golfers haven't exactly led the charge to end discriminatory membership practices. Many of them haven't said a word on the subject, even as it has become the biggest issue in their sport. That's sad. One sure way to perpetuate discrimination is to pretend that it's none of your business.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Pete Rose checked into a minimum-security prison in Marion, Ill., last week to begin serving his five-month sentence for having filed false income tax returns. He shouldn't expect much sympathy from local residents, who have disliked him ever since he mowed down catcher Ray Fosse, then of the Cleveland Indians, in that famous home plate collision in the 1970 All-Star Game. Fosse sustained a broken and separated shoulder on that play and was never the same. He remains, however, Marion's most beloved native son. Indeed, if Rose ever gets a glimpse of the local ballfield, he'll see a sign that reads RAY FOSSE PARK.
With Arkansas now commited to joining the Southeastern Conference, Florida State is expected to be the next school brought into the SEC fold, perhaps very soon. By adding the Seminoles, the SEC would have 12 members, the minimum needed under NCAA rules to split into two divisions for football and have the winners meet in an extra—and no doubt lucrative—regular-season game for the conference title.
Arkansas's move to the SEC confirmed weeks of speculation that the Razorbacks would drop their 76-year affiliation with the Southwest Conference (SI, July 9). "I found it improbable that anything could be done to stop the [SWC's] slide," said Arkansas chancellor Dan Ferritor, referring to that conference's declining football attendance and widespread rule-breaking. The Razorbacks, who figure to rake in $500,000 a year more in shared conference TV, radio and bowl revenues from the move, will begin playing in the SEC in the fall of 1991 in all sports except football. The football team will be an independent in '91 and join the SEC in '92.
Losing Arkansas, a top all-around sports school, is a blow to the SWC, which now has no members outside Texas. The Cotton Bowl has said it is considering ending its affiliation with the conference, and two SWC cornerstones, Texas and Texas A&M, are contemplating a switch to either the SEC or to the Pac-10, which would love to broaden its television appeal to the Southwest.
The SEC has been cool of late to another potential member, Miami. The Hurricanes would strengthen the conference in football and baseball but not in much else. Miami is also more than 1,000 miles from some SEC schools, such as Kentucky. Some insiders say that given a choice, Miami and its academic-minded president, Tad Foote, might spurn the SEC for the ACC, which includes academically rigorous schools such as Duke and North Carolina.
The Alexander Valley Fruit and Trading Company of Geyserville, Calif., has begun marketing an effective, environmentally safe replacement for that nondegradable polystyrene foam "popcorn" commonly used in packing. The replacement material is real popcorn.
LESSONS IN CIRCUMNAVIGATION
William Pinkney departed from Boston on Aug. 5 on a 27,000-mlle, 11-month trek in his 47-foot cutter, Commitment. If all goes well, he will become the third American and the first black person to complete a solo global circumnavigation around the five southernmost capes (in order, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin, Southwest Cape, Stewart Island Cape and Cape Horn).
But Pinkney, a 54-year-old former marketing executive, won't be communing merely with himself. From September through June, he will transmit information by satellite to the Chicago headquarters of Project Commitment, a program developed especially for his expedition. Project Commitment will in turn send a monthly newsletter to selected schools in at least 11 cities (among them Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Pinkney's hometown, Chicago) and will provide certain Chicago schools with daily position updates. The goal is to give students in grades four through 11 lessons in geography, social studies, science and math by having them track Pinkney's voyage. The newsletters will contain entries from Pinkney's log as well as information about navigation and the history and languages of the countries along his route.
Pinkney, a grandfather of two, caught the sailing bug during an eight-year stint in the Navy. He was an offshore racer for two decades before giving up competition five years ago to plan his voyage, which is being underwritten in large part by corporate sponsors. His journey actually started on July 15, when Pinkney, wearing a transdermal medicated patch behind his ear to combat seasickness—"For the first few days out I never know how my body will react," Pinkney says—set sail from New York City for Salvador, Brazil. But a faulty compass and a cracked intake manifold forced him to dock in Portsmouth, R.I., for repairs.
That setback might serve a greater purpose, because Pinkney hopes his voyage will teach students the importance of perseverance. "If they see me work hard and succeed, it will be harder for them to cop out," he says.
THEY SAID IT
•Bubba Paris, San Francisco 49er offensive tackle, proudly noting that he had slimmed down in the off-season from 377 pounds to 340: "Now I look like a normal fat human being."
•Skip Caray, Atlanta Braves announcer, trying to put the best face on the paltry turnout at a recent home game: "It's a partial sellout."