WHAT PRICE GLORY?
Death in the ring is the dark side of boxing's allure
Nobody this side of a Roman emperor wants athletes to perish for
the sake of entertainment. Let's get that straight. We like our
thrills (secondhand, of course) but are not so jaded that
mortality is necessary. Nobody's really cheering for fatal NASCAR
wrecks, and nobody's really hoping that a crumpled boxer never
gets up. We're more civilized than that. But it does up the ante,
admit it, when we know death is possible.
That's what makes us so uneasy each time one of our sportsmen
dies for the sake of second-rate spectacle. Beethavean Scottland,
a 26-year-old father of three, had delivered enough stand-up
courage in his June 26 fight with George (Khalid) Jones in New
York City to satisfy any of us. He was outclassed, sure, but he
fought resolutely enough that going into the final round of an
otherwise unimportant bout, ringsiders thought he could still
have scored a knockout.
He suffered one instead, and soon lapsed into a coma from which
he never returned. Scottland died of his brain injuries on July
2, six days after the fight, for which he was paid $7,000.
Ring fatalities happen often enough that boxing is constantly
challenged to provide as many safeguards as are logically
possible in a sport organized around the defining effects of
unconsciousness. In Scottland's case it appears that the sport
served him well, that--excepting the usual debate over whether the
referee should have stopped the bout sooner--he was not the victim
of administrative neglect. Which is to say, boxing always has a
clear conscience as long as ambulances are close at hand.
The uneasiness, which always dissipates with time, goes to the
heart of boxing, which for all its good intentions really does
require a Beethavean Scottland (or a Johnny Owen, or a Duk Koo
Kim) to die every once in a while. Most fights do not end so
tragically, and many end up reinforcing a heroic idea that is
absent elsewhere in our lives. Had Scottland somehow landed a
punch in that last round to win the fight, the fans in attendance
would have left a little better off, having absorbed (secondhand)
the possibility of glory.
Every once in a while, though, it has to go the other way, else
that glory would seem too cheap. In boxing, anyway, it's
exorbitantly costly, the last luxury of our civilization, really.
As long as we can live with that, young men like Beethavean
Scottland will die for it. --Richard Hoffer
Five Famous Boxing-Related Fatalities
George Stevenson 1741 Died several weeks after losing the
bare-knuckle championship of England to Jack Broughton, the man
who later drew up the sport's first rules.
Ernie Schaaf 1933 Died four days after a 13th-round knockout by
heavyweight champ Primo Carnera.
Jimmy Doyle 1947 Died 17 hours after fighting Sugar Ray Robinson
for the welterweight title. Asked whether he knew Doyle was in
trouble during the fight, Robinson said, "They pay me to get them
Benny (Kid) Paret 1962 Died 10 days after losing his
welterweight title to Emile Griffith in a 12th-round knockout at
Madison Square Garden.
Duk Koo Kim 1982 His death after a fight with WBA lightweight
champ Ray Mancini led to the shortening of title bouts from 15 to
IT'S GOOD TO BE A KING
Memo to: Free agent Chris Webber
From: An unbiased observer
Re: Five reasons you should re-sign with the Kings
1. You have a smart general manager. Geoff Petrie unloaded loose
cannon point guard Jason Williams on the Grizzlies and got steady
Mike Bibby in return. Steals like that are why Petrie is one of
the best in the business. He finds a way to improve your
supporting cast every year, with pickups like Bibby, Doug
Christie and Bobby Jackson, and he was sharp enough to deal aging
Mitch Richmond for you back in '98. That kind of savvy makes it
likely that you'll be on a contender for a long while.
2. The media won't devour you. Don't you like having only one
full-time newspaper beat writer to deal with in Sacramento? In
New York City half of Manhattan is in the locker room with a
press pass. If you played as poorly for the Knicks in a playoff
series as you did against the Lakers last May, that pack would
roast you all summer.
3. There's no such thing as a small market--at least in terms of
endorsement potential. The days when great players in lesser
cities went unnoticed are long gone. With 24-hour sports channels
and satellite television, every star is a national star. Playing
in Sacramento didn't stop Williams from having one of the
league's hottest-selling replica jerseys, and Shaquille O'Neal
was well-known when he played in Orlando. Go deep into the
playoffs and you'll be pitching candy bars before you know it.
4. You get to run. The Kings' Rick Adelman is one of the few
coaches who doesn't go into cardiac arrest when his team runs a
fast break. With the Kings, you can fill the lane on the break
and even show off your passing skills in transition. You think
you'll do much of that in, say, Miami?
5. You da man. As long as you're a King, there will never be any
questions about top billing. Do you really want to go to Detroit,
for instance, and wrestle Jerry Stackhouse for the ball? Ask
Allen Iverson how much fun that was.
It's understandable that you want to take some time to think
before you make your next career move, C-Webb. What we don't
understand is, What's there to think about? --Phil Taylor
Bill Clinton is living every unemployed Bubba's dream: bagging
choice tickets to sporting events worldwide. Here's a recap of
his recent itinerary.
May 28: Plays the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. Says
Clinton before carding an 86, "I've only ever seen the course on
TV, but I've played every hole 100 times in my head."
June 6: Breezes into Stade Roland Garros midway through Andre
Agassi's French Open quarterfinal against Sebastien Grosjean.
Agassi, who had won the first set, drops the next three. Says
Clinton spokesperson Julia Payne, "The president felt horrible.
He's a huge fan of Andre's."
June 9: Hobnobs at the Belmont Stakes with winner Point Given's
trainer, Bob Baffert, and owner, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, and
shares handicapping secrets with scribes: "I never make a real
decision on a race, a big race, until I go to the paddock."
June 10: Takes in Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Philly. Clinton is
snubbed by Sixers president Pat Croce, who declines to seat him
in his personal box at the First Union Center.
July 2: Sits with Hillary, one row behind Joan Jett, at the New
York-Detroit WNBA game at Madison Square Garden. Says Liberty
guard Becky Hammon (about Bill, not Joan), "That's as big a
celebrity as it gets."
July 7: Entertains Wimbledon with a Centre Court interview for
the BBC during the rain-delayed men's semifinal. Among his pearls
of wisdom: Venus Williams is "like a gazelle on the court"; Andre
Agassi "is a prince of a man"; and "It's England, it has to rain
Wise and Wiser
Do great minds really think alike? We tested that theory by
pairing off two masters of the aphorism: baseball sage Satchel
Paige, whose witticisms are collected in the new book Satchel
Sez from Three Rivers Press, and German philosopher Friedrich
Where the rabble drinks, all wells are poisoned.
Some are old in their youth: but those who are young late stay
He who is hated by the people as a wolf is by the dogs: he is the
My stomach--is it an eagle's stomach? For it likes lamb's flesh
best of all.
A man suffers little from unfulfilled wishes if he has trained
his imagination to think of the past as hateful.
Believe me! The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and
enjoyment from life is to live dangerously!
Go very light on the vices...the social ramble ain't restful.
Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it
When they boo you, you got to make 'em pay.
Avoid fried meats, which angry up the blood.
Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.
Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been
hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
Word for Word
He bested Allen Iverson in the Finals, and now Shaquille O'Neal
seems intent on challenging A.I. for most outrageous NBA rapper.
Check out these excerpted lyrics from Psycho, off Shaq's
I got a lot on my back; I got a lot on my mind
You say stick to basketball don't act don't rhyme...
Y'all probably never liked the f--- I did I'm not a role model
I'm a real model raise your own bad kids
Ahh I want y'all to hear me
Ahh respect me and fear me
Ahh I suggest you don't get near me I'm psycho and I don't think
Don't be like me please don't follow
I'm out of my mind my f-----' head's hollow
Y'all don't understand I really like my fans
That's why I dig in my f-----' a-- and shake their f-----' hands
Wipe my a-- and blow my nose with the same tissue
It's official Shaq got issues
Critics when you hear this don't say jack
I'm the s--- I was born out my mother's a-- crack
Psychosomatic lyrical addict
Sweepin' the attic
On the biggest size Craftmatic
Inhale asbestos and I'm an asthmatic
And f--- the IRS for that high tax bracket...
I had to do this song I couldn't resist
I got a championship ring now because I'm on that Phil Jackson
The earliest known reference to baseball. While trolling
through old newspapers, NYU librarian George Thompson Jr. came
across references in the April 25, 1823, editions of both The
National Advocate and The New-York Gazette and General Advertiser
to "base ball" being played in what is now Greenwich Village in
Manhattan. The first game played under Alexander Cartwright's
rules took place in Hoboken, N.J., in 1846.
Liberian national hero George Weah (SI, April 16), from his
country's soccer squad, after crowds threw bottles at him,
screamed insults about his mother and forced his family to flee
its house following Liberia's 2-1 upset loss to Ghana, which put
Liberia in danger of failing to qualify for the World Cup. Said
one angry fan, "I did not expect George to bring us this far and
frustrate us." Supporters have beseeched Weah to reconsider.
Invesco Funds Group's plan to sue Denver Post columnist Woody
Paige. In a July 1 article, Paige quoted an unnamed Invesco
executive as saying that company employees refer to Invesco
Field at Mile High as "the Diaphragm," because of its purported
resemblance to the female contraceptive device. After
questioning the story's authenticity, Invesco admitted that one
of its execs had had "a social conversation with Mr. Paige
that subsequently formed the basis for the column."
Thong bikinis, by the Women's International Squash Players
Association. Britain's Vicky Botwright, the world's 19th ranked
player, has been pressing to wear a sports bra and thong during
competition. "We are a minority sport," said Botwright. "Any
interest is good interest."
ELY CALLAWAY, 1919-2001
Drive for Dough
The last two years of Ely Callaway's life were not as much fun as
the previous 80. His sharp business instincts deserted him as he
led Callaway Golf into a series of cul-de-sacs. He built a $150
million ball-manufacturing plant but permitted rivals Titleist
and Nike to steal his marketing thunder. He introduced a driver,
the ERC II, that didn't conform to USGA rules. Most damning of
all, he signed Arnold Palmer to endorse the club, making Palmer
look as if he condoned cheating. You don't tarnish the King
without picking up a little stain yourself.
It's important, then, to remember the Ely Callaway of the 1990s,
the mischievous huckster who enchanted Wall Street and made the
$500 titanium driver a symbol of boom times. He set the stage for
the Tiger Woods explosion by pushing the message that golf is
fun. His commercial spokesmen, from the tart Johnny Miller to the
dazed Alice Cooper, always looked as if they'd just hit the five
best shots of their lives, and they spoke to the cameras without
a script. Callaway looked happy too, though he had a script. "See
all these companies?" he would say, pawing through magazine ads
for drivers that claimed to hit the ball farther than his Big
Bertha. "They all compare themselves to our product. What does
that tell you?"
The game Callaway really cared about was business. At age 63 he
bought Hickory Stick, a three-worker outfit that made
wood-shafted putters and wedges. That became Callaway Golf of
Carlsbad, Calif., the No. 1 golf club maker in the world. When
Callaway died last week of pancreatic cancer, some eight million
golfers worldwide had at least one of his clubs in their bags.
"It would be hard to find a product that's more fun to sell,"
Callaway said. It would be harder to find someone who had more
fun selling. --John Garrity
Beleaguered Boris Becker can thank an avid fan for adding to his
woes. German finance ministry officials investigating Becker
(below) for claiming tax-free Monte Carlo as his main residence
have enlisted the aid of Beckermaniac Hans Gerd, 75, who for
years pored over as many as 50 newspapers a day seeking articles
about the tennis star. Gerd's collection of 210 scrapbooks has
provided authorities with a nearly day-to-day account of Becker's
whereabouts. Becker could be charged with tax fraud if he is
found to have spent more than one quarter of his time in Germany
during the four years in question in the early '90s. Gerd isn't
especially sorry for contributing to his hero's troubles. "I sent
copies of everything I did to Boris," he told the Times of
London. "He never once wrote and thanked me."...
ESPN is taking no chances with the possible return of Michael
Jordan to the NBA. It will broadcast the NBA Summer League game
between the Wizards and the Celtics on July 17, a date observers
have been eyeing expectantly since news of MJ's potential
comeback surfaced in March. ESPN2 will carry seven other Summer
Because of her bum foot, Anna Kournikova didn't play in England
during Wimbledon fortnight. The tennis vixen's new workout video
did, however. To coincide with Wimbledon, her management company,
Octagon, released Anna Kournikova: Basic Elements across the pond
three months before its scheduled debut in the U.S. Plenty of
Brits apparently want to sweat along with Anna: The tape is
back-ordered on Amazon.com's U.K. site. Sorry, Anna fans--the tape
is in PAL format, so even if you can get ahold of it, it won't
work on most American video players.
Players chosen fourth in the NBA draft since 1980 who became
Players over that same span who were selected 11th and became
Holes of golf played over a period of 16 hours and 18 minutes by
golf pro Chris Crabtree of Elkhart, Ind., to raise money for a
Fans in Detroit who were stranded for more than two hours in the
baseball-shaped gondolas on Comerica Park's Ferris wheel on July
Degrees Fahrenheit that the temperature must reach to earn
golfers a free round at The Shores Country Club in Rockwall,
Tickets sold for the Oct. 6 hockey game between Michigan and
Michigan State, to be played outdoors at Spartan Stadium.
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
Sylvester Stallone is considering making a musical version of
with Welsh club Cardiff City that requires him to have a
"physical liaison" with a sheep: "I've assured my wife it is
not for real. She's worried I might catch foot-and-mouth."