The Third Sex
What you, didn'tknow? There are in fact three sexes: male, female and football. Or so it wouldseem if you listen to the College Football Association and the AmericanFootball Coaches Association, which are lobbying in Washington to securepreferential treatment for their sport under Title IX, the law that requirescolleges receiving federal funds to provide equitable sports opportunities forwomen. The football lobby points to its game's huge numbers: 85 scholarshipplayers on Division I-A teams and squads of as many as 130 that gobble up ahuge number of participation opportunities. It goes on to argue that this castof thousands (and by extension its budgets of millions) should be exempt whenthe feds use as one of their three tests of Title IX compliance whether theratio of male to female athletes at a school correlates with the student bodyas a whole. Rep. Dennis Hastert (R., III.), a former high school football andwrestling coach, has promised to hold hearings before the House Labor andEducation Committee in March, with an eye to eliminating the proportionalityguideline.
To bring thetotals of male and female athletes into balance, a school can either spend moreon women's sports, pare away at football or cut low-profile men's sports likewrestling. More and more colleges are choosing the last of those options, whichis why the National Wrestling Coaches Association is also lobbying to have KingFootball treated as a separate entity. Of course, as colleges attempt to complywith the law, they shouldn't be slackening their commitment to minor men'ssports; civil rights statutes are supposed to lift disadvantaged groups, notlower others to disadvantaged status. But with increased spending not an optionfor most schools, Hastert and his congressional colleagues shouldn't givefootball a free pass—and should keep their truth detectors at hand.
Myth: Footballunderwrites women's sports. In fact, only about one fifth of the NCAA's 554football teams even pay for themselves; one third of the programs in DivisionI-A are running an annual deficit that averages more than $1 million. ACongress that rode to power waving the banner of fiscal responsibility would bederelict to ignore these figures.
Myth: Footballhas already been cut to the bone. In fact, the sport maintains somebreathtakingly spendthrift habits, routinely quartering entire squads inoff-campus hotels on Friday nights before home games, for instance, and buyingout $1 million coaches to hire $2 million ones. By cutting scholarships fromthe current Division I-A limit or turning some full rides into partial ones,schools could come into compliance, and the game would actually become morebalanced as the major powers could no longer stockpile talented benchwarmers.
The courts haveconsistently upheld Title IX, and on four separate occasions Congress hasrefused to exempt any sport from the law's purview. But Hastert sounds like aman both determined to overturn precedent and loath to touch football."Football is unique," he says. "I do not want to take on a nationalshrine." Fortunately, a coalition of organizations representing coaches ofnon-revenue-producing sports besides wrestling—among them field hockey,gymnastics, Softball, swimming, track and field, volleyball and waterpolo—realizes what the wrestling coaches apparently do not: that it's pointlessfor have-not men to do battle against have-not women. These groups aremobilizing to get the focus back on football, that overfed sacred cow. Withnoncompliance still prevailing some 23 years after Title IX's enactment, that'sprecisely where that focus belongs.
P's and Q's, L'sand W's
The letter p may appear in the middle of the alphabet, but there's nothingmiddling about either Prairie View A&M or Penn. The Panthers, curators of a46-game losing streak in football, have had their fecklessness extended tohoops, in which they were 3-15 at week's end and ranked dead last in the mostrecent power ratings. Has any school had a sorrier simultaneous showing inthose two sports—and has any school fared better at them than Penn? In footballthe Quakers have strung together two straight unbeaten seasons and a DivisionI-AA record 21 consecutive victories, while the basketball team (page 62) isheaded for an unprecedented third perfect Ivy League season in a row after lastSaturday's 69-50 victory over Princeton. All of which makes the Quakerspredators, and the Panthers pacifists. And us confused.
Carrying a BigStick
What does thePresident know and how does he know it? That's the question raised by the WhiteHouse's decision to become more involved in efforts to end the baseball strike.President Clinton justified the move by framing the dispute as an issueaffecting thousands of jobs and set a Feb. 6 deadline by which he expects tosee substantial progress. Last week three prominent labor lawyers, allexperienced in working with federal mediators, told SI that Clinton wouldn'thave acted unless mediator William Usery could see a way to break the deadlock,which has prevailed for nearly six months.
If that's true,there are only political positives for the White House in intervening. TheComeback-to-the-Table Kid is in desperate need of causes to champion that areunrelated to those in the Republicans' Contract With America. The baseballstrike is an issue likely to appeal to the white males who deserted theDemocrats during the midterm elections. And even if the two sides, which wereset to resume face-to-face negotiations on Wednesday, fail to reach asettlement by the deadline, Clinton could send terms drawn up by Usery toCongress for action. In any case, the President may have found an issue onwhich he can be a leader.
The White Housepicked an opportune time to act. Congress had recently seemed sympathetic tothe grievances of the players, as legislators on both sides of the aisle talkedof introducing bills to eliminate the owners' precious antitrust exemption. Buttwo days before Clinton's announcement, the second circuit court of appeals, ina case brought by NBA players against their league, ruled that the basketballunion can't use antitrust laws to challenge the NBA's salary cap as long as acollective bargaining relationship exists. With baseball's players pushingCongress to repeal the antitrust exemption so they can sue the owners forhaving implemented a salary cap, acting baseball commissioner Bud Seligdeclared the NBA decision a victory for baseball's management.
But Selig mightwant to temper his crowing. Clinton's Justice Department, in an amicus curiaebrief filed last August in the NBA case, came down emphatically on the side oflabor, asserting that players should be free to pursue antitrust cases afternegotiations reach an impasse and objecting that preventing them from doing so"disserves both labor and antitrust interests." Based on that brief,it's reasonable to assume that any White House recommendation for congressionalaction would almost certainly include repeal of the antitrust exemption. Fansshould bear in mind that the most recent agreements in the NBA and the NFL bothcame about under the same circumstances: when management faced the threat ofhuge antitrust judgments.
They didn't gettogether for a slumber party in the crew boathouse the way they used to beforeevery home game, but all 22 members of Cornell's 1969-70 hockey team showed upat Lynah Rink in Ithaca, N.Y., last Saturday just the same. They turned out tocommemorate the 25th anniversary of their NCAA-title-winning season, in whichthey went 29-0 to become the only Division I hockey team ever to put together aperfect record. Among the old-timers, who received new championship ringsbetween periods of Cornell's 4-4 tie with Clarkson, are two lawyers, a dentist,a social studies teacher and a chiropractor—but only one veteran of more thanfour NHL games, current Cornell coach Brian McCutcheon. "Maybe we didn'thave the most talent in the country," McCutcheon says. "But you can'tdo what we did without some talent."
Indeed, the BigRed may have lost goalie Ken Dryden to graduation the year before, but the teamwas good enough to earn North American bragging rights by beating theUniversity of Toronto, the eventual Canadian college champ, in Canada. That wasa sweet win, as 20 Cornell players hailed from north of the border. In the 1970film Love Story, fictional Harvard hockey captain Oliver Barrett, played byRyan O'Neal, calls Cornell "the wild Canadian horde" after the Big Redbeat the Crimson 4-3. Cinematic license? No. Coach Ned Harkness refused to lendthe filmmakers his team's jerseys unless the script had his boys winning. SaysHarkness, "I didn't want us to be on the losing end of anything."
A Buffalo NoMo'
Hideo Nomo is a6'2" righthander and a winner of the Sawamura Award, Japan's equivalent ofthe Cy Young, who pitches for the Kintetsu Buffaloes. Or he used to pitch forthe Kintetsu Buffaloes. His Tokyo-based agent, Don Nomura, recently retained aLos Angeles counterpart, Arn Tellem, to comb through Nomo's contract with theBuffaloes, and together they discovered a gaping loophole. While the standardmajor league contract prohibits, say, Barry Bonds from announcing hisretirement from the San Francisco Giants and then signing to play for any otherteam anywhere in the world, it seems that Japanese contracts restrict aretiring player only from playing for other Japanese clubs. As a result Nomo,who's 26 and has always dreamed of testing himself in the American majorleagues, has announced his retirement—and may become one of the mostsought-after pensioners in baseball history.
This week Nomowill visit the Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners to takephysicals, scout out local life and talk contract; the Colorado Rockies, theNew York Yankees, the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays may receive himover the following weeks. Although the Department of Labor won't permit anyforeigners to serve as replacement players, he could sign a minor league dealnow, report to Triple A and then go to the majors when there's a settlement tothe strike. Nomo is the David Cone of Japan, where he led the Pacific League instrikeouts four times with his peek-at-second-before-going-home LuisTiant-style delivery. "He has a great fork-ball," says Ranger generalmanager Doug Melvin. "And he's still young." If Nomo signs with a teamon the West Coast, where there's a huge Asian population, we could see theNipponese Valenzuela soon after the strike gets settled. And no matter where hesigns, we're sure to see a new standard Japanese player contract.
Sometimes goodlines come in bunches. Arnold Palmer recently announced plans to play in whathe says will be his last British Open, at St. Andrews in July. The 65-year-oldPalmer would not, however, commit himself to playing in any other tournaments,saying, "When you get to my age, you don't even buy green bananasanymore." We had just finished chuckling at that one when we read Missouribasketball coach Norm Stewart's response when asked if he would bring his teamback to Jackson State, given the size of the crowd that turned out to watchMizzou's 86-72 win there on Jan. 18. "I go day-by-day," said Stewart."I don't buy green bananas." Day-Oh! A little digging revealed thatPalmer and Stewart are far from alone on the banana boat; in September, RonMeyer, the former coach of the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Coltswho's now guiding the Las Vegas Posse of the CFL, commented on the job securityof coaches in his new league, saying, "Not many people in Canadian footballbuy green bananas."
An exhaustivecheck of the archives reveals that the green banana reference is by now prettyripe, with such noted old-timers as Milton Berle and George Burns getting offtheir own variations of the line in recent years. The earliest sports usage wecould find was from another aging golfer, and it was also British Open-related.At Muirfield in 1987, Lee Trevino, then 47, was asked what his plans were forthe coming year. Said Trevino, "At my age, I don't even buy greenbananas."
Still Got aShot
Margaret White,who lives in the Oklahoma panhandle town of Turpin, would seem to be perfectlycomfortable filling her larder with unripe fruit. She's 100 but in such finefettle that she put the shot during the Sooner State Games in Oklahoma City onSunday, setting an age-group record with a throw of 11'4" as the onlyentrant in the 100-104 division.
Her son WendellPalmer, 62, is a senior-circuit athlete too—a shot-putter, discus thrower, andsprinter. But, his mother says, "Wendell is getting of an age that I don'tthink he ought to do it much longer."
Carr 46, WhereAre You?
It evidently hasbeen a long, strange trip. On Jan. 21 basketball Hall of Famer and world'stallest Grateful Dead fan Bill Walton worked as a color commentator on NBC'stelecast of a game between Notre Dame and Xavier. The visit was Walton's firstto South Bend since Jan. 19, 1974, when the Irish upset his UCLA team 71-70 toend the Bruins' record 88-game winning streak, and unpleasant memoriesinevitably came up. "I don't have to go back to feel it," Walton toldthe Associated Press. "That's one of the most disappointing days of mylife. They scored the last 12 points of the game. Austin Carr had 46 points.Darn it, darn it, darn it. It never goes away."
Maybe not away,but evidently awry. Carr did score 46 points for Notre Dame against UCLA, butin 1971, when Walton was on the Bruin freshman team. By '74 Carr was doing hisscoring for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Darn it, Bill, didn't the Dead ever coverMemories?
When ESPN college basketball commentator Digger Phelpsrecently told a reporter from the Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal that he plans torun for president in 2004, saying, "I just want to coach the country,"the announcement at first sounded like a joke. But Phelps, the former coach atNotre Dame, is not well known for his sense of humor, and indeed, he hasconfirmed that he's serious, even though his political experience is limited to11 months as a supervisor in the Bush Administration's Weed-and-Seeddrug-prevention program. "Why not?" he says of his political pipedream. "If it's there, go for it."
We're trying to imagine how a notoriouslyimage-conscious, overcoaching dandy from South Bend might run the country, andthe picture is a little bizarre. An "I See America as a Golden Dome on aHill" inaugural address? Economic policy based on the green-and-goldstandard? A cabinet-level Department of Midnight Basketball? Massive militaryspending to combat proliferation of Long-Ainge Missiles that can penetrate anydefense within seconds? A new presidential retreat, Camp David Rivers? And theRose Garden being uprooted and replaced by... the Carnation Garden?
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have been named theofficial game shows of the 1996 Olympics.
They Said It
New York Ranger left wing, upon leaving his native Canada after the NHL lockoutand being asked by U.S. customs officials if he had anything to declare:"No. The owners took it all."
A loophole has left Nomo's Japanese team buffaloed.