Skip to main content
Original Issue


Watch Out, NCAA

Alarmed politicians are eyeing college sports

As he has so often before, lame-duck UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian last week took some potshots at the NCAA. This time, however, the salvos were particularly public: Sitting in front of a bank of television cameras, Tarkanian testified before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Competitiveness. The panel was conducting the first of what its chair, Representative Cardiss Collins (D., Ill.), said would be a series of hearings "looking at all aspects of college sports—the NCAA, grades, money, everything."

The proceedings reflect a growing interest in the NCAA on the part of the nation's lawmakers. In January 1990, Congress enacted a law that obliges colleges to make public their athletes' graduation rates. The first figures are due later this year. Last month, Representative Ed Towns (D., N.Y.) introduced legislation that would require the NCAA to afford due process to those it investigates. Nebraska, Nevada and Florida have already enacted similar measures. For its part, the NCAA, which in the past has denied the accused the right to face his accusers, maintains that it has taken steps to ensure greater due process in its investigations and that new laws are therefore unnecessary.

The NCAA has only itself to blame for government's increased interest in college sports. As John C. Weistart, Duke law professor and co-author of the book The Law of Sports, says, "The beast [big-time college sports] is unwilling to kill itself, so federal involvement is coming."

NCAA-bashing coaches shouldn't necessarily see Washington as an ally, because government may well see college coaches as part of the problem. Last week, Tarkanian called the NCAA the greatest problem in college sports, urging Congress to play a larger role in controlling athletics. But when LSU basketball coach Dale Brown whined to the committee that coaches were the "whipping boys" of the system, "forced to the back of the bus," an unsympathetic Collins said, "There's been some partying going on at the back of your bus!"

Weighty Blows

Did lighter gloves put a boxer into a coma?

Kid Akeem Anifowoshe and IBF junior bantamweight champion Robert Quiroga fought for 36 brutal minutes on June 15 in San Antonio. At the end, Quiroga looked much the worse: Both eyes were swollen nearly shut, blood gushed from cuts near one eye and on his chin, and his face was puffed and bruised. Anifowoshe, a 22-year-old Nigerian who lives in Las Vegas, appeared to have suffered only a swollen left eye and a cut lip. "He was fine," says Anifowoshe's wife, Sharon. "He went over and hugged Quiroga and he was talking and everything."

But a minute after the decision was announced—he lost unanimously—Anifowoshe collapsed into a coma. "When he dropped in the ring, his right pupil was fixed and dilated," says Dr. Gerardo Zavala, one of two doctors at ringside. "He started having convulsions. He was having trouble breathing. For all practical purposes, the man was dying in the ring."

Later examination would reveal that the right side of his brain was so swollen that it was putting pressure on the left side. He was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where he was placed on medication to relieve the swelling. An hour later Zavala operated, inserting a device in the boxer's skull to monitor the pressure. (Fortunately, Anifowoshe's recovery has been remarkable. By the end of last week his condition was listed as fair and stable, and he had some movement in his right leg and both arms.)

Some boxing officials have tried to blame Anifowoshe's injury on the weight of the gloves used in the fight. They were six-ounce gloves instead of the eight-ounce ones mandated by the state of Texas for fighters who, like Anifowoshe and Quiroga, weigh 115 pounds. But since this fight was sanctioned by the IBF, which believes that six-ounce gloves are better suited for the smaller hands of fighters who weigh 126 pounds or less, the lighter gloves were permitted. "We've been using six-ounce gloves for our smaller fighters since our inception in 1983," says IBF president Bob Lee. "We've never had an incident. We sanctioned 40 fights in the lighter weight classes last year, and we've had 13 so far this year. Not one incident."

Texas, which is under fire for waiving its eight-ounce rule, has taken the politic road. "I think this was the last fight with six-ounce gloves in Texas," says Rudy Garcia, director of the Texas Department of Labor Standards, which regulates boxing in the state.

Other states are following Texas's lead. Nevada has permitted Michael Carbajal, the IBF junior flyweight champion, to fight with six-ounce gloves, but it may not do so again. "It was real rare when we did," says Chuck Minker, executive director of the state's athletic commission. "I doubt we ever will again. I don't know if the gloves are at fault, but if somebody else got hurt we would look like real idiots." Boxing administrators in Arizona and New York have followed suit, saying that they, too, will no longer allow six-ounce gloves.

But eight-ounce gloves may actually make blows more damaging. The heavier gloves mean that boxers get hit with an extra two ounces of impact. There is as much padding across the knuckle area of a six-ounce glove as there is across the same portion of an eight-ounce glove. The heavier glove is made slightly wider, with most of the extra two ounces added at the wrist.

The power of a punch is determined by the speed of the blow, the length of the puncher's arm and the weight of the fist. A supplemental weight, such as a glove, adds to the power of the punch. The brain floats in its case inside the skull. When someone is hit in the head, his brain slams against its bony covering. The more force at impact, the harder the brain is slammed against the inside of the skull. This is why street fighters wrap their fists around rolls of nickels.

Dr. Jack Battalia, a surgeon who is head of both the Oregon boxing commission and the IBF medical committee, says, "Up to a point, the bigger the glove, the more damage to the brain. When you hear people saying we need bigger gloves, they don't know what they are talking about. The safest boxing is bare-knuckle. You're going to get your face bruised and cut to hell, but you're not going to get brain damage. I have no problem with little fighters using six-ounce gloves."

As the doctor's words indicate, two ounces of prevention is not the cure.

Hizzoner Smoke

A former big league stopper plays hardball in Mexico

As a fireballing reliever for 11 seasons with the Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros, Aurelio (Señor Smoke) Lopez became accustomed to pitching with the game on the line. He hasn't challenged a major league batter since 1987, but the pressure Lopez faces now is much greater than anything he endured on the diamond. In November 1989, Lopez became mayor of his hometown of Tecamachalco, a community of 150,000 some 110 miles southeast of Mexico City. Lopez, 42, is no longer dodging hot shots off hitters' bats; now it's hot lead fired from his political opponents' guns.

"They've shot at my house," says Lopez. "Originally I didn't want to run, but one day the ex-mayor's secretary came to see me. He told me that if I didn't support their guy in the upcoming election, they were going to make my life difficult."

Many in the community asked Lopez to run himself, and he did, winning handily. But the powerful Hidalgo family, which has controlled Tecamachalco politics for more than 40 years, has been a thorn in his side since he was elected. "They have tried to block everything we've tried to do, but thanks to the opposition parties that have joined with me, we've been able to move forward."

As mayor, Lopez has tried to improve the quality of life in Tecamachalco. He has overseen the installation of a new water system, and a new drainage system is under construction. "We're also trying to get the roads paved, and we want to build a sports center," says Lopez.

His supporters would like him to run for senator, but Lopez says he has no further political ambition. "My life has been baseball, and I would like to return to it," he says. "I think I can still help a team. My arm is strong and my mind is strong. And later I would like to continue working, as a coach or instructor."

Lopez says that his term as mayor "has been like coming into a game with the bases loaded." And as for the prospect of extending his political career, Señor Smoke says, "I like short relief."

A League Underwater

They went diving and a hockey game broke out

You don your snorkel, mask and fins and dive into the water. Just then you feel a piece of wood prodding you in the back. A summer outing at a New Jersey beach? No, it's underwater hockey, or as it's known in Great Britain, the land of its birth, Octopush.

On the surface, underwater hockey is not so different from its frozen-water cousin. Players try to propel a puck into a goal using a stick, and there are six players on a side. The difference is that Mario Lemieux doesn't wear scuba gear or fire slap shots along the bottom of an eight-foot-deep pool. Although there are no icing penalties—or ice, for that matter—there are face-offs, power plays and penalty shots, or "free squids" in the Octopush lexicon.

In the 37 years since hockey first took the plunge as a way for divers to keep active during the winter, the underwater game has been played on every continent except Antarctica. And it is still very popular where it was spawned. In fact, Britain became European champion last month when it blew Holland out of the water (10-1) in Brussels. And while the winners were thrilled, their fans were unmoved. "Octopush is a terrible spectator sport," says Clifford Underwood, secretary of the British Octopush Association. "It's like whale watching. The most you can ever see are backsides and a lot of spray."



After 12 bloody rounds with Quiroga (above), Anifowoshe collapsed (left).



Four years after he retired, Lopez still has fans who look up to him.








Judgment Calls

[Thumb Up]To the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, for adopting a rule requiring high school wrestlers to maintain at least 7% body fat. The rule is designed to prevent wrestlers from employing unhealthful weight-loss methods in order to compete in lower weight classes.

[Thumb Down]To North Carolina Central University, for failing to fulfill financial obligations to its scholarship athletes. The athletes were forced to take out loans to pay for tuition and expenses.

[Thumb Down]To Star Pics, a collecting-card company, for including seven cards of players' agents in its 1991 football set.


Craig Stadler, PGA Tour golfer, when asked how he is putting now compared to 1982 when he won the Masters: "More."

Katarina Witt, former Olympic figure skater, to Donald Trump, former tycoon, after he told her that she was the only woman to whom he had ever given his private number who hadn't called him back: "Somebody has to start a trend."

Making a List

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, better known as Wimbledon, is hosting the All England Championships for the 105th time. The club has been the site of many memorable matches, and here TV commentator and tennis historian Bud Collins discourses, in his own inimitable fashion, on 10 of them.

1. 1919 women's final: Suzanne Lenglen (below) beat Dorothea Lambert Chambers 10-8, 4-6, 9-7. The 40 year-old Lambert Chambers nearly grabbed her eighth title in this generational gasp. But Lenglen, 20, fortified by third-set brandies, couldn't be denied the first of her six championships.

2. 1935 women's final: Helen Wills Moody beat Helen Jacobs 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. Eight-time champ Moody was shadowed throughout her career by the "other Helen." Four times Jacobs lost Wimbledon finals to Moody.

3. 1937 Davis Cup: Don Budge beat Germany's elegant Baron Gottfried von Cramm 6-8, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 8-6. From 1-4 in the fifth set, Budge battled back to give the U.S. a 3-2 win in this Cup semifinal. Before the match von Cramm received a pep-talk phone call from Adolf Hitler.

4. 1953 men's third round: Jaroslav Drobny beat Budge Patty 8-6, 16-18, 3-6, 8-6, 12-10. Surviving cramps and six match points, Drobny, a chunky lefthanded Czech defector (an earlier version of Martina?), surged for the last eight points in the 93-game thriller.

5. 1969 men's first round: Pancho Gonzales beat Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9. The match-that-wouldn't-die (five hours and 12 minutes over two days) went to grandpop Pancho, 41, who gave away 16 years to Pasarell.

6. 1970 women's final: Margaret Court beat Billie Jean King 14-12, 11-9. Despite Court's gimpy ankle and King's gimpy knee, the two took turns frustrating each other in the longest women's final—two hours, 26 minutes. Court squandered three match points before winning the toughest leg of her Grand Slam.

7. 1976 women's final: Chris Evert beat Evonne Goolagong 6-3, 4-6, 8-6. A lob on match point slipped Evert through a seesawing third set in which she startlingly took the net away from Goolagong.

8. 1980 women's quarterfinal: Navratilova beat King 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 10-8. The two-day heart-thumper was King's last magnificent stand on her "home" court, Centre, where site won so many matches. She missed out by a whisker: Rain fogged her spectacles when she led 5-1 in the tiebreaker. Navratilova won on her 10th match point as her mishit return pinked a line.

9. 1980 men's final: Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18), 8-6. This epic of them all featured the Battle of 1816, in which McEnroe tap-danced around five match points. A smorgasbord of brilliant shotmaking, the match had everything but Pauline on the railroad track.

10. 1982 men's final: Jimmy Connors beat McEnroe 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Smokin' Jimbo hit so many lines he raised more white puffs than a papal election. Eight years after winning his previous title, he wriggled out of the fourth set tiebreaker, roaring down a pyrotechnic homestretch.

Getting Exercised

Butler County, Ohio, officials may be overzealous in their desire to remove certain lascivious-sounding videotapes from local stores. One they are considering banning is Do It Debbie's Way, an exercise video starring Debbie Reynolds.

Or Not!
According to a recent Ripley's Believe It Or Not!, "Ken Gordon, a switch-hitter with the 1967 Boston Red Sox, once hit into two double plays IN A SINGLE INNING!" Gordon, from Colonie, N.Y., never played for the Red Sox, but he did participate in a fantasy camp with some of the '67 Bosox in 1985. At that camp he received a baseball card of himself, which included the information that he had hit into two double plays in one inning. Gordon submitted the card to the Ripley's Believe It Or Not! office in Toronto. The Ripley's people believed it.

Replay 35 Years Ago in Sports Illustrated

Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn wound up on the June 25, 1956, cover to celebrate a story titled Are Lefties Human? (We concluded that several were.) And eight years before our first swimsuit issue, we revealed the next generation of beachwear: "The advance guard in playsuits is the bare midriff. In this, its first year, it is usually a modest one-inch space of skin, but bears watching for further development."