What if David Duke becomes the next governor of Louisiana'?
Like it or not, sports and politics often clash, and nowhere is that more evident just now than in Louisiana, where David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi sympathizer, is running for governor in a Nov. 16 runoff election against former governor Edwin Edwards. Although Duke says he's no longer a racist, he was selling neo-Nazi literature out of his office in the state legislature as recently as 1989. If he's elected, there's every reason to expect that some black recruits will scratch Louisiana colleges off their lists and that the proprietors of major sporting events will say bye-bye to the bayous. Says Dave Dixon, a New Orleans art dealer who was instrumental in the construction of the Superdome and the acquisition of the Saints, "Some people say David Duke will hurt the convention industry. That's nonsense. He won't hurt the convention industry. He will eliminate it."
Of course, threats by outside interests to withhold sports events from Louisiana as punishment for electing Duke could backfire. That's what is believed to have happened in Arizona last year, when the NFL warned that it would move the 1993 Super Bowl out of Phoenix if voters of that state didn't approve a proposition to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a state holiday. The measure was rejected, and resentment by the voters over what they perceived as meddling by the NFL was believed to be one reason. Mindful of that precedent, the NFL (which, in fact, did move the '93 Super Bowl to Pasadena) has remained mum on the subject of Duke.
Yet given what the league did in Arizona, there would seem to be no way, in the event of Duke's election, that the NFL could consider New Orleans as a future Super Bowl site. If Duke wins, the NCAA would also be under pressure to reconsider its plans to hold the 1993 Final Four in New Orleans. Another event that might be pulled from the city is the U.S. Olympic track and field trials scheduled for June 19-28 at Tulane. The Athletics Congress, the governing body for the sport in the U.S., will see if Duke is elected before exploring new sites for the trials.
Concern about the effects of a Duke victory is also manifest on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. Tiger coach Curley Mailman stiff-arms the issue by saying, "I'm a football coach, not a politician," but senior cornerback Corey Raymond, who is black, expressed trepidation about the prospect of a Duke victory. "We would hope that he would not become governor," Raymond told The Orlando Sentinel. "Nobody would want to come here. Maybe a recruit wouldn't mind, but his parents wouldn't let him come."
It isn't fair to depict all Louisianians as racist, whether or not Duke is elected. Nevertheless, it seems dead wrong to stage national-championship-level events in a state whose chief executive is a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. Sports organizations have the same right as other groups to use economic pressure to influence public policy, and a sports boycott to protest Duke's election would be a clear signal that racism will not be tolerated, much less rewarded.
—WILLIAM F. REED
A Big Turnover
The New Jersey Nets blow Kenny Anderson's debut
While one point guard. Magic Johnson, left the NBA last week with grace and valor, another much-heralded one entered the league with a distinct lack of class. It was only partly Kenny Anderson's fault that his long-awaited debut with the New Jersey Nets was so badly handled; the rest of the blame falls on the Nets' management. Still, you would have to question Anderson's ability to run the transition game, judging from his transition into the pros.
As have many of the NBA's other first-round draft picks, Anderson gave his new team fits during contract negotiations. Anderson and Richard Howell, his agent, were looking for a three-year deal worth $10 million, while the Nets' opening offer was a six-year contract at $2.25 million a season. By the time the two sides came together last week, at $14.5 million over live years, training camp, the preseason and the first week of the season had gone by, leaving Anderson out of shape and out of sync with coach Bill Fitch's system. But that's all standard stuff these days.
The real snafu came when the Nets tried to restructure their payroll to get under the NBA's $12.5 million-per-team salary cap. Without Fitch's knowledge, the Nets' owners—a group known in the local media as the Secaucus Seven—waived two players, center Dave Feitl and forward Jud Buechler, to get under the cap. Said one owner, Joe Taub, "If it comes to signing Kenny Anderson or keeping two marginal players, I'm going to sign Kenny Anderson."
But Fitch felt that since the team had waited so long to sign Anderson, it could have waited a few more days to work out a better way to handle the salary cap—presumably by mollifying Anderson with, say, deferred payments or a loan. "Our ownership made a horrible decision," Fitch said at the press conference called last Friday to introduce Anderson. "I'm ticked. I want to win. You can't win if you're not going to be able to control your own basketball team. I told management, if you start picking the players, then von tell them they've been waived."
Not consulting Fitch was dumb enough, but, according to Buechler, the Nets had already agreed to pay him $300,000 for the season. The Nets, who say no deal was set, will try to sign him for the NBA minimum of $130,000 if he clears waivers this week. In the meantime, the Nets are a man short.
Needless to say, Anderson's unveiling was spoiled. The day after the press conference he played in his first game as a Net, at home against the Pistons. He came off the bench at the end of the first quarter to cheers and a smattering of boos. The rust showed, as he made only three of 10 shots and committed five turnovers in New Jersey's 110-100 loss. Said Fitch, "I'm going to be more impressed, the better shape he gets in."
When the Nets made the Georgia Tech sophomore the second pick overall in the draft, they felt they were getting a force. Unfortunately, they turned Anderson's debut into a farce.
Eastern Montana harriers get a very cold reception
Neither snow, nor ice, nor 45-mph winds were going to keep these harriers from their appointed meet. As coach Dave Coppock and the Eastern Montana College cross-country team piled into a van early on the morning of Thursday. Oct. 31, these were elements they would have to brave over the 618 miles of highway that separated them from Fargo, N.Dak., home of North Dakota State and site of an NCAA regional meet.
On Friday afternoon, having arrived safely in Fargo, Coppock took his runners out to familiarize them with the course, only to discover unmarked, snow-swept tundra and nary an opponent in sight. North Dakota State coach Don Larson says, "I came out for practice, and there they were, wondering why no one else was around. I've never felt so sorry for anybody in my life." The meet, it turned out, was scheduled for the following weekend.
A mistake like that could make for some very cross country runners, but nobody held it against Coppock. "That meet has always been held the first weekend in November," says Eastern Montana athletic director Gary Nelson. "We had the new schedule, but it just didn't register. Dave is the last guy you would expect this to happen to. His IO is at least 50 points higher than anybody else's in our department."
The Yellowjackets made the return trip to Billings, and they had barely enough time to recover before they hit the road to Fargo again last Thursday. The Eastern Montana men finished only 12th out of 14 teams in the regional, and the women 16th out of 16, but at least they had a good excuse.
[Thumb Up]To Larry Johnson, the Charlotte Hornets' rookie, for pledging $180,000 to the United Way of Central Carolinas, enabling the charity to avoid its first shortfall in 37 years.
[Thumb Down]To the Florida High School Activities Association, jar taking away two victories from the 7-1 Lake Brantley High football team because the school, in an act of kindness, let an emotionally handicapped student dress for two games. The student,-who was technically from another district, did not play.
[Thumb Down]To the New England Small College Athletic Conference, for making its members play only conference teams beginning in 1992, ending the 102-year football rivalry between league member Hamilton and Union, and the 98-year one between the NESCAC's Middlebury and Norwich.
THEY SAID IT
Jim Colletto, Purdue football coach and former assistant at Arizona State and Ohio Stale on his 11-year-old son's reaction after he look the job with the Boilermakers: "He said, 'Gosh, Dad, that means we're not going to any more bowl games.' "
Error on the Thoreau
Movie critic Gene Shalit publishes a monthly newsletter, and in the October issue he quotes Phil Rizzuto, the New York Yankee broadcaster. It seems that Rizzuto was telling listeners to a late-season game in Boston that he had been in Concord, Mass., that day and that "everything up there is named Walden. Great poet."
Replay: 25 Years Ago in Sports Illustrated
The golden dome of Notre Dame's Terry Hanratty was on our Nov. 7, 1966, cover, and inside, we revealed that Notre Dame sports information director Roger Valdisseri had tried to get the half-Irish, half-Italian quarterback to change his name to Hanratti. We also reported that a full Italian, Pope Paul VI, had an audience with Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. No, the pontiff did not say, "Let's pray two."