EQUALITY AND HORSESHOES
Leaders of the women's sports movement were heartened by a 20-minute meeting with President Bush two weeks ago on National Girls and Women in Sports Day. "The whole atmosphere in the White House was more engaging and encouraging than with the previous Administration," says Deborah Anderson, executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation. Anderson and her colleagues list some of their goals for the next year and beyond:
•More vigorous enforcement of Title IX. The passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act last March, over President Reagan's veto, put teeth back into Title IX, the 1972 law barring sexual discrimination in educational programs or activities at schools receiving federal funds. (A 1984 decision by the Supreme Court had severely limited the scope of the law.) The Women's Sports Foundation has begun a campaign urging female athletes to file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights if their schools aren't providing adequate funding and proper facilities.
•Increasing the number of women in college coaching and athletic administration. Since 1972 the share of women holding coaching positions in women's college sports has dropped from 90% to 48%. More than 30% of the women's intercollegiate athletic programs have no female administrators, and few women are working as coaches or administrators in men's sports.
•Increasing the voice of women in the U.S. Olympic movement. A number of national governing bodies have few or no women on their boards of directors, and no women were formally nominated for any of the six top U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) executive board positions to be filled this week at the USOC meetings in Portland, Ore. To remedy the latter oversight, a coalition of USOC member bodies has nominated former Olympic long jumper Willye White by petition. A USOC task force is being formed to address the underrepresentation of women in the organization.
During the White House visit, jockey Julie Krone brought the President, an avid horseshoes player, a gold-plated shoe from Winning Colors, the filly that won the 1988 Kentucky Derby. Krone told Bush that Winning Colors had asked her to pass along a message: "Take care of the rest of the fillies."
THE WINTER GAME
The softball diamond is marked out with Jell-O powder—lime, strawberry or raspberry—and the pitcher's mound is a piece of carpet. Games are played in blizzards and—25° cold. But what makes the annual Priest Lake (Idaho) Snowshoe Softball Tournament most unusual is, well, snowshoes. Every player in the 12-team event must wear them, and few are adept enough to take more than a few steps in the shoes without tripping.
"You should see the guys in the outfield—especially rookies—try to back up for a long fly," says P.A. announcer Bud Adams. "They just go over backward." Adams helped found the tournament in 1970 to give spectators at Priest Lake's annual dogsled race something to do to keep warm while the sleds were out on the course.
The game is modified fast-pitch, with 11 players per side (five outfielders) and an oversized ball painted red or orange. The tournament is played in the lot behind a bar, Frizzy O'Leary's Korner Klub, where conditions vary with the weather. Fielders dread crusty snow because balls skip off it as if it were AstroTurf and roll into the next county if not intercepted. Deep, fluffy snow can be worse; balls vanish.
"It's a break for the ballplayers who are thinking about softball all winter," says retired electrician George (Brick) Harris, another of the tournament's founders.
In case you were wondering, on Sunday, in clear 20° weather and on a foot of crusty snow, R.B. Enterprises of Medical Lake, Wash., beat Strick's Donuts of Spokane 9-4 for the 1989 title.
E-Z DOES IT
When Genaro Hernandez meets Luis Hernandez in a junior lightweight bout on Feb. 23 in Irvine, Calif., the announcers for the telecast will be Tony Hernandez and Pedro Fernandez. The fight will be shown on a regional cable station called Z Channel.
Feb. 8 was national signing day for college football recruits, the time when Allen Wallace, publisher of SuperPrep magazine, produces his annual list of the schools that fared best (and worst). His Top 10:
1) Notre Dame. No doubt, no question. Signed 18 All-Americas.
2) Florida State. An easy choice for second. Landed seven in-state All-Americas.
3) Texas (page 52). Defenders were the top priority, and the Horns went out and hooked 'em.
4) Southern Cal. The Trojans needed guys for the trenches and got them.
5) Michigan. Strong in all departments, especially defensive line.
6) Clemson. Signed an outstanding crop of defensive backs.
7) UCLA. A new generation of quarterbacks and the usual supply of blue-chippers from the Texas-to-Westwood pipeline.
8) Ohio State. Pulled off some late surprises; would be ranked higher if some recruits weren't Proposition 48 question marks.
9) Miami. Signed linebacker Jessie Armstead of Dallas, SuperPrep's Player of the Year.
10) Penn State. Great linebackers—what else?
Wallace says that the three biggest disappointments were Florida, where recruiting was hampered by rumors that coach Galen Hall might be fired; Arizona State, which was hurt by its decision not to accept academically suspect out-of-state players; and West Virginia, which didn't do that badly—except that its expectations after its near championship were much higher. The year's biggest surprise was Stanford. Its new coach, Dennis Green, who was hired away from the Super Bowl-champion 49ers, worked miracles in just more than a month, landing the best class of offensive linemen in the West.
SAY IT AIN'T SO, HULK
DECLARED PHONY: Professional wrestling, by World Wrestling Federation (WWF) officials trying to persuade the New Jersey State Senate that their sport isn't dangerous and therefore doesn't need to be regulated by the state athletic commission. In their testimony, WWF officials defined pro wrestling as a staged activity "in which participants struggle hand-in-hand primarily for the purpose of providing entertainment to spectators rather than conducting a bona fide athletic contest." A bill removing pro wrestling from state athletic commission regulations passed the senate last week by a vote of 37 to 1 and will now go on to the assembly.
ABOUT THAT PICTURE....
Two weeks ago, newspapers across the country ran the photo shown below of 19-year-old apprentice jockey Nate Hubbard desperately clinging to the neck of his mount, a 4-year-old filly named Sweetwater Oak, during a $20,000 claiming race at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, Calif. We thought we would fill you in on some of the details of the extraordinary ride and picture.
About 100 yards from the finish, Sweetwater Oak clipped the heels of Current Lady, the filly in front of her, and stumbled badly, flinging the 4'11", 108-pound Hubbard from the saddle. "The next thing I knew, I was around her neck," Hubbard, who has been riding for only 18 months, told SI's Amy Lennard.
As Sweetwater Oak galloped down the stretch, photographer Peg Grueneberg—on hand to shoot pictures of muddy jockeys for the track's publicity department—feared tragedy. She saw what she describes as a "frozen look of fear" on Hubbard's face as she clicked off shots, using a Canon camera with a 100-millimeter lens. To everyone's amazement, Sweetwater Oak, with Hubbard still clinging to handfuls of her mane, crossed the finish line second, 2½ lengths behind Current Lady. While Hubbard—whose ride had violated no racing rules—dismounted to a rousing ovation, Grueneberg rushed to the track's darkroom and within 15 minutes had developed her memorable shot.
Rival jockeys marveled at the strength Hubbard had displayed. The next day Hubbard went back to business as usual; despite a large bruise on his left thigh where Sweetwater Oak had kneed him, he rode four winners, equaling the best performance of his career.
PEG GRUENEBERG/GOLDEN GATE FIELDS PHOTO
The unsaddled Hubbard was captured for posterity as he clung to Sweetwater Oak.
THEY SAID IT
•Bucky Waters, NBC basketball commentator, on what some assistant coaches do during games: "They have the same role as the corpse at an Irish wake: Dress well and stay quiet."