UP IN SMOKE
Will U.S. sports be forced to kick the cigarette habit?
For the du Maurier Classic, the LPGA major that was extinguished
last week as a result of Canadian legislation banning cigarette
companies from sponsoring sports events, the loss of Big Tobacco
is a big headache. The LPGA has not found a sponsor to replace
the Imperial Tobacco Co. and the roughly $5.5 million needed to
fund the event for next year. Given prevailing attitudes in the
U.S. and Canada toward tobacco advertising, the du Maurier's fate
could await a number of other sporting events.
Although cigarette sponsorships have been on the decline in the
U.S. for years--Virginia Slims, for instance, dropped title
sponsorship of the WTA tour more than a decade ago--the 1998
tobacco settlement, which limits tobacco companies to one
brand-name sports sponsorship annually, has forced the issue for
the few remaining tobacco-dependent sports. Take auto racing. In
1995, R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand sponsored five major racing
properties. Now Winston will be permitted to lend its name only
to one (most likely the Winston Cup) after the current contracts
run out. The loss of tobacco money has left the grassroots driver
development program formerly known as Winston Racing without a
sponsor, forcing NASCAR to foot the entire bill for the 2000
Surprisingly, the tobacco cutbacks have been a boon for some
folks in auto racing. With fewer events to sponsor, RJR doubled
Winston Cup's season-ending prize money this year, from $5
million to $10 million. As tobacco is weeded out of the racing
game, tech firms, dot.coms and other "nontraditional" sponsors
such as FedEx have been filling the void. The five-year-old Indy
Racing Northern Lights Series does not have a single
tobacco-sponsored team or event. The wave of new sponsors is so
strong in high-profile motor sports that even if future rulings
kill off the granddaddy of automotive smokefests, the Winston
Cup, NASCAR isn't worried. "We don't want to look like we're not
grateful for Winston's involvement," says John Griffin, NASCAR's
managing director of worldwide communications, "but let's just
say we have a savvy marketing team and a game plan that would go
into effect pretty quickly."
August 20, 2000
While racing may be able to cope with tobacco withdrawal,
lower-profile sports aren't faring as well. A few events, like
the Camel-sponsored American Poolplayers Association
competitions, have retained their sponsorship through a loophole
in the legislation because they are held in adult-only
facilities (in this case, taverns). But for the likes of the
Merit Mixed Doubles bowling tournament, dropped by Philip Morris
in 1998, the end of tobacco sponsorship was the end of the road.
The clock is also ticking on events such as the Copenhagen
Professional Bull Riders Series and the Copenhagen Skoal Pro
Rodeo: U.S. Tobacco will have to choose between the two when the
rodeo contract runs out in 2001.
As such events scramble to find multiple smaller sponsors to
replace lost money, some athletes have been left to ponder a
cruel irony: Eliminating cigarettes can be hazardous to the
health of your sport.
Athletes Who Smoke
They may be world-class jocks, but that doesn't mean they don't
like to come alive with pleasure. Here are some players who like
to light up.
Rod Beck, Red Sox pitcher
Brian Bohanon, Rockies pitcher
John Daly, golfer
Tomas Dvorak, world-record holder in the decathlon
Mark Grace, Cubs first baseman
Glenallen Hill, Yankees DH
Nikolai Khabibulin, Coyotes goalie
Andrei Kovalenko, Bruins winger
Nick Price, golfer
Kazuhiro Sasaki, Mariners pitcher
RX FOR TROUBLE
Did Romo's fondness for pharmaceuticals go too far?
Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski's propensity for pill-popping
is well known (SI, May 25, 1998). Pick a color, and Romanowski,
34, has a vitamin or mineral supplement to match. To teammates
he's known as Rx. But his reputation took on a more unseemly tone
On Aug. 9, a Douglas County (Colo.) grand jury handed down a
four-count felony indictment charging Romanowski with using
friends and family to help him fraudulently obtain large
quantities of phentermine, a controlled-substance diet drug whose
effects in certain doses mimic those of amphetamines. If found
guilty of all charges, Romanowski could face as many as nine
years in prison.
From September 1998 to January '99, according to law enforcement
documents obtained by SI, the Romanowskis directed Lori Johnson,
36, to obtain upward of 500 phentermine pills, more than five
times as many as would have been prescribed on a standard diet
plan. Romanowski's wife, Julie, 33, was charged in May with
fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance. (She has yet to be
arraigned.) Johnson and the Romanowskis' doctor pleaded guilty in
January and received light sentences. No one denies that the
drugs were for Romanowski.
Johnson's lawyer told SI that on numerous occasions, at the
Romanowskis' request, Johnson obtained phentermine--which,
according to a University of Colorado pharmacologist who
testified to the grand jury, could allow an athlete to
"experience increased mental alertness and masking of
fatigue"--and prescription-strength ephedrine and delivered both
to the Romanowskis' house. Mixing the two, one knowledgeable
source close to the investigation said, "would give you the
pharmacologic equivalent of crack cocaine, an amazing buzz that
makes you alert and reckless."
Romanowski's lawyers deny their client was mixing the drugs. They
say there's an explanation for his amassing the quantity of pills
but decline to give it pending the trial. Romanowski reportedly
told investigators that he took no more than one pill before
every game. That leaves hundreds of pills unaccounted for.
Denver coach Mike Shanahan has said the Romanowski case won't be
a distraction to the Broncos, but already center David
Diaz-Infante has told authorities he received phentermine from
Romanowski on one occasion. Sources close to the case say former
Bronco Martin Harrison also provided a written statement to
prosecutors detailing Romanowski's alleged offers of pregame
stimulants. One white player told the grand jury that Romanowski
suggested the substances would allow him and Romanowski to
compete on a level field with African-American players.
"[Romanowski's] exact words were, 'We have to go up against the
black guys....'" the player told SI. "He said, 'They're faster
and stronger, and we have to take advantage of this. It is the
only way we can compete with the black guys.' He didn't say
'black guys,' he used the n word."
Romanowski's lawyer Jeff Springer acknowledged that the grand
jury looked at the possibility that his client was providing
drugs to players, but, Springer says, "[the jurors] obviously
rejected that theory." He also denies Romanowski said anything
about black players. Springer says his client intends to fight
all charges. The case isn't expected to go to trial until after
the season. Romanowski remains Denver's projected starter at left
outside linebacker. --Don Yaeger
A $240 million judgment, by All Pro Sports Camps Inc., in a
lawsuit claiming the Walt Disney Company's Wide World of Sports
complex in Orlando was based on an idea stolen from All Pro's
plans for a sports theme park.
Pete Sampras, with the ATP tour's new ad campaign touting young
players such as Tommy Haas (below left) and Juan Carlos Ferrero,
who are pictured in ads and posters that read NEW BALLS PLEASE.
"Those guys are the future of the game," Sampras said, "but they
[the ATP] probably could have come up with a better slogan."
Onetime claimer Hallowed Dreams, in her attempt to win her 17th
straight race and break the American record she shared with Cigar
and Citation. The 3-year-old filly, a 1-9 favorite in a stakes
race at Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, La., finished third.
Australian pop diva Olivia Newton-John, as the headliner for the
opening ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics. The songstress will
lead a cast of Aussie all-stars including John Farnham, who
gained fame in the 1960s with the pop hit Sadie the Cleaning
Lady, and "bush balladist" John Williamson, who'll sing Waltzing
ABC's college football announcing lineup. Play-by-play man
Keith Jackson returns for another season, his second since his
retirement from broadcasting after the 1999 Fiesta Bowl.
By a passerby and a TV news crew, four of the 11 sets of
high-tech bobsled runners belonging to the U.S. team that were
stolen from a suburban Salt Lake City storage unit in late July.
The seven sets still missing, however, are the test runners
critical to the team's medal hopes in 2002.
Tale of the Tape
Middle East, Schmiddle East. What we really want to know about
Al Gore (left) and George Bush is how they stack up as
sportsmen. Here forthwith, a handy little sports crib sheet on
the presidential contenders.
Captained football team at St. Albans School in Washington.
Played guard on Harvard's freshman hoops squad (15 field goals,
[George W. Bush]
Played baseball at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. Rode pine
for Yale's freshman team.
Adult Sports Highlights
Teamed with Anfernee Hardaway to beat two Memphis-area schoolkids
in 1995 shooting contest.
Managing general partner of Texas Rangers from 1989 to '94.
Ruptured Achilles tendon during pickup game in 1994; said he had
tried to make a helicopter dunk, "and I caught my elbow on the
Okayed trade of Sammy Sosa to the White Sox for Harold Baines and
Often likens nation's steady economic progress in Clinton years
to "three yards and a cloud of dust."
Said on his Web site, "In politics, there is only one World
Series game, on Election Day."
Harvard teammate Bob Kanuth: "You know how some players have a
wonderful ability to see the whole court while they dribble? Al
Frank Ittner, Bush's Little League coach: "He was a good catcher.
He'd catch balls that you would think couldn't be caught."
Results to the contrary, Tiger Woods doesn't have any tricks up
his sleeve. He does, however, play a trick with his sleeve, one
that's becoming increasingly common in golf. Woods watchers have
noticed that one of his trademark mannerisms is to pull up his
left sleeve before he swings, often high enough to expose his
entire biceps. The move is done so subtly that many have assumed
Woods has his shirts tailored with one preshortened sleeve.
Why does Tiger yank? "Fit is a big deal to him," says David
Hagler, Nike Golf's director of apparel. "He likes to wear things
oversized, which is why his sleeves are long to begin with. But
he also needs freedom of movement, which is why he pulls up his
Some players did the tug before Tiger (most notably Fred
Couples), but Woods is the one with pull: More and more college
and junior players have been seen doing the move. "Tiger's a
superstar," says Notah Begay, who also hitches. "Kids are going
to emulate him. They do the fist pump, they shield their eyes
as they line up a putt, they pull their sleeves. It's analogous
to Jordan's tongue waggle."
What if Quidditch, the enchanted sport of wizards and witches
featured in the Harry Potter books, were regulated by the NCAA?
TO: Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
FROM: Committee on Infractions, National Collegiate Athletic
RE: Possible violations of NCAA regulations by student-athlete
Harry Potter and others
Sir: We have come into possession of several documents detailing
potentially serious rules infractions within your Quidditch
I. Impermissible Recruiting Activity; Use of Ineligible
Student-athlete Harry Potter was recruited in his first year at
Hogwarts, in direct violation of the NCAA's ban on Quidditch
freshman eligibility. One professor admits going to you to "see
if we can't bend the first-year rule. Heaven knows we need a
better team than last year."
II. Improper Benefits
Student-athlete Draco Malfoy allegedly was placed on the
Quidditch squad only after his father, a Hogwarts booster, gave a
"generous gift" of new, state-of-the-art broomsticks to a number
of student-athletes. Malfoy "had to buy [his] way in," says a
fellow student. As you know, alumni contributions and benefits to
student-athletes are severely restricted by NCAA rules.
III. Unethical Behavior
There are numerous reports of equipment tampering (e.g.,
enchanted balls), substance abuse (bylaw 26.3.2 strictly forbids
use of performance-enhancing magical spells) and practice
sessions that extend beyond the NCAA's prescribed limits.
IV. Lack of Institutional Control
One of your faculty members, Professor Snape, explains the
reigning attitude at Hogwarts when he describes the star status
afforded a former Quidditch standout: "A small amount of talent
on the Quidditch field made him think he was a cut above the
rest of us.... Rules were for lesser mortals, not Quidditch Cup
winners." Needless to say we are concerned about these
transgressions and would appreciate a response as soon as
possible----by conventional mail, please (not by owl carrier).
Despite heavy speculation that Lakers coach Phil Jackson will
soon wed Jeannie Buss (below), Lakers executive vice president
and daughter of owner Jerry Buss, don't go asking about a bridal
registry at the Staples Center gift shops just yet. Although the
team is mum on the couple, who have been quietly dating since
last November, a source close to Jackson says that he's in no
hurry to finalize his divorce from his estranged wife, June.
"Things are moving slowly," says the insider, who adds that
Jackson probably won't sign divorce papers until late next year
or even early 2002....
Actor Keanu Reeves nearly got busted at Comiskey Park two weeks
ago. He was doing research for his role as a sleazy ticket
scalper in the upcoming sports flick Hardball by lurking around
the Comiskey parking lot in character. When security guards
arrived to bounce him, Reeves didn't identify himself. Says
White Sox spokesman Bob Beghtol: "Our guards were going to kick
him off the premises. Then they realized who it was and let him
go. I think they ended up getting autographs." If they'd seen
The Replacements, they might not have been so forgiving....
Wonder if he has a thing about garlic: Stars center Mike Modano
recently broke up with actress Kristy Swanson, the original
Buffy the Vampire Slayer....
Is famed Yankee diehard Billy Crystal switching allegiances? The
comedian, who's directing 61*, an HBO movie about the Roger
Maris-Mickey Mantle home run duel, called the Red Sox during a
recent visit to Boston and asked to meet Nomar Garciaparra and
Pedro Martinez. Crystal got his wish and talked shop with the
two. Says Bosox spokesman Kevin Shea, "We're pretty sure we're
converting him to a Red Sox fan." For Crystal's sake, maybe they
should try to convert him from being a Clippers fan while
they're at it.
American League division winners from 1999 (the Yankees, Indians
and Rangers) for which outfielder Ricky Ledee has played this
Hours of live daily television coverage of the Sydney Olympics
planned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, compared to
zero by NBC, CNBC and MSNBC.
Combined score of two preseason soccer games won by Spanish First
Division team Racing Santander over Dutch semipro club Smilde G4.
Consecutive batters retired by pitcher Lisa Fernandez of the U.S.
Olympic softball team during its pre-Sydney warmup tour.
Times the British coast guard has fished amateur sailor Eric
Abbott, 56, from the water, including once when he ran aground
trying to navigate across the Irish Sea using a road map.
'spo-rtz - werdz
Sprite [v.] sprit-ed; sprit-ing. To get stuffed by the front rim
when trying to dunk a basketball. From the soft-drink ad in which
a kid suffers this ultimate embarrassment, even though he's
fueled by the soda. "That guy has no game. He's 6'9", and he
still gets sprited."
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
A bomb squad was called in to Redskins headquarters to defuse a
suspicious package that, when blown open with a water cannon, was
found to contain four musical dolls sent to the Skins for good
They Said It
Red Sox ace, after reading that he had the best slider in the
American League, according to a poll of managers: "I'm flattered,
but I don't throw a slider."