FAREWELL TO JJK
One of track and field's finest ends her inspiring run
The ideal of athlete as inspiration has been so beaten up by
scandal, greed and lethargy that it is popular to say that a)
all athletes are selfish, irresponsible millionaires and b) they
always were, minus the millionaire part. It's hip to be cynical.
Then there is Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who last Saturday at a track
meet in Edwardsville, Ill., not far from her hometown of East
St. Louis, competed for the last time, in a long jump that was
largely ceremonial. Her retirement at age 36 ended an 18-year
career in which she took part in four Olympics and won three
gold medals, held the world record in the long jump, and still
holds the world record in the heptathlon.
Yet the measure of Joyner-Kersee's greatness came not from a
stopwatch or the infernal charts that score the heptathlon. A
fuller gauge was the purity of her efforts which seemed so often
to rise from her soul, and the impact she made on her sport and
on women. Her best qualities were on display in her last serious
meet, the Goodwill Games heptathlon on July 21 and 22. Far past
her prime and only modestly fit, Joyner-Kersee won with a
courageous run in the 800 meters, the hep's final event, and one
that she has always despised and feared. Come on, Jackie, just
go with them, she told herself as she tried to stay with the
other runners through the agony of the two-lap race. She cried
at the finish, and her ever-present husband-coach, Bobby Kersee,
cried even harder. "I can't believe it's over," he said.
It's common in this country to extol the rise of women's sports
in the '90s, what with the birth of two pro basketball leagues
and U.S. Olympic golds in women's hockey, soccer and softball.
For all that, a debt is owed Joyner-Kersee, who helped make it
cool for girls to play boys' games and play them hard. "All I
ever wanted was to be able to compete," she says. "I don't take
credit, because people came before me."
In the glow of her Goodwill triumph Joyner-Kersee apologized for
high-jumping only 5'8", and laughed at her struggles in the 800.
Her humility was, as always, in contrast to the hubris of the
defensive back who turns a pass deflection into a 30-second
dance or the sprinter who runs for 10 seconds and woofs for six
months. She walked across a field that night in New York,
illuminated by distant spotlights. Her USA jersey hung over her
tights, and three young girls moved along in her shadow.
Occasionally they would whisper and giggle, and their hero would
laugh too, sharing her dream, their dream. --Tim Layden
IS EVERYBODY DOING IT?
When Tour de France cyclists sat defiantly beside their bikes
last Friday, delaying the start of stage 12 by two hours, they
were protesting the media's and police investigators' intense
preoccupation with the Tour's ever-deepening drug crisis. The
strike simply drew more attention to the drug woes and
underscored what dire shape their sport's premier event is in.
"You look forward your whole life to wearing the yellow jersey,
and now you can't even enjoy it," said race leader Jan Ullrich
last Saturday. "All anybody talks about is doping."
With one team, Festina, expelled for using performance-enhancing
drugs; another, TVM, under investigation; and a third, Asics,
circumstantially linked to drugs, the Tour, in the words of
French sports minister Marie-George Buffet, "is gravely ill."
Many riders and five of the 20 team directors supported
cancellation of the race. The public is even more turned off: In
a poll conducted by France-Soir, 39%, of the respondents said
that this year's race should be shut down.
Most disturbing is that the long-suspected drug use, as
uncovered by zealous investigators and a muckraking press,
apparently is not only tolerated but also often encouraged by
team officials. Festina was booted after its director, Bruno
Roussel, told investigators that his riders regularly took the
hormone erythropoietin (EPO) under the team's direction, an
allegation confirmed by five of the team's nine cyclists. "I'm
just the victim of a system," said Festina cyclist Armin Meir,
who later added: "I would not be surprised if more than 100
riders are suspended."
Even as the Festina situation unfolded, TVM, a Dutch team, saw
its director, Cees Priem, and doctor, Andrei Mikhailov, hauled
into police custody. Prosecutor Phillipe Laumosne said that
"doping products and masking products" had been found in the
hotel rooms of TVM cyclists and on Monday, Priem and Mikhailov
were taken from jail to face a magistrate. Also last week, in
the event that caused the indignant riders to strike, a French
TV crew sifted through garbage bins and uncovered empty drug
containers apparently inscribed with the initials of various
Asics team members. Such guerrilla tactics may be what it takes
to uncover drug use, because many illicit substances are easily
masked. (EPO, an endurance-enhancing agent and the drug of
choice among cyclists, cannot be detected in tests.)
Riders, doctors and team directors have agreed to meet after the
season ends in October to discuss methods for combating drug
use. "It would not have been wise to meet during [this] crisis,"
says Daniel Baal of the French Cycling Federation. But the
sooner the better. This year's Tour has been irrevocably
tarnished, and the fact that EPO is believed to have caused the
deaths of some two dozen professional and amateur cyclists this
decade should remind officials that there is even more than the
luster of a great race at stake.
TRUE CAPITALIST SPIRIT
Last summer fans would come to the Green Bay Packers' training
camp in DePere, Wis., at dawn and wait hours for access to
informal autograph sessions. Naturally, among the wide-eyed
youngsters mingled slit-eyed hustlers, who stocked up on free
autographs that they would later sell. Because those same
profiteers showed up day after day, the Packers this season are
handing out a limited number of tickets to their practices and
attempting to make sure most go to children and families.
That hasn't stopped the scamming, though. The sharks are getting
their share of tickets--in some cases swiping them out of kids'
hands--and they're scalping the ducats for $30 apiece.
Albert Belle's Gambling
GOING EASY ON THE BIG MAN
When it comes to gambling, baseball has historically taken a
hard line. Just ask Pete Rose. But that stance seems to have
softened in the curious case of Albert Belle. Last week in
federal district court in Akron, it was revealed that the White
Sox slugger lost as much as $300,000 placing bets with two
Cleveland-area men between 1994 and '96. Belle's losses, which
were far more than the $40,000 previously reported, were
incurred on pro football and college basketball, as well as his
own rounds of golf.
The information came to light during a sentencing hearing for
Nicholas Zambataro, a 37-year-old cement-truck driver, and
Michael Kling, a 30-year-old carpet salesman. Zambataro and
Kling, reported golf pals of Belle's, were each sentenced to 30
days in jail and fined $3,000 for failing to report gambling
income from Belle on their 1995 federal tax returns. Belle, who
cooperated with the IRS's investigation of Kling and Zambataro
and has not been hit with criminal charges himself, had paid off
at least some of his debts with money orders of under $10,000,
an apparent attempt to circumvent a federal law requiring banks
to report transactions greater than that amount.
Belle's gusto for gambling has been known since February 1997,
when he admitted in a deposition for an unrelated civil suit
that he had lost $40,000 betting on pro football and college
basketball. That revelation prompted baseball to conduct an
investigation, which concluded quietly in May. Commissioner Bud
Selig says there was not enough evidence to justify punitive
action or continuing the probe. Baseball's chief investigator,
Kevin Hallinan, says Belle was not interviewed but insists there
were "no surprises" in the information that came out last week.
Still, the amount of Belle's losses, and the apparent
"structuring" of payments in violation of the law, should be a
serious concern for Selig and his fellow owners, among them
White Sox boss Jerry Reinsdorf, who sits on baseball's executive
council. Baseball has long held that the integrity of the game
is in jeopardy whenever a player, coach or official associates
with gamblers. Does the game no longer care if one of its
players loses six-figure sums while gambling illegally?
In 1991, Phillies centerfielder Len Dykstra received a year's
probation from then commissioner Fay Vincent after it was learned
that Dykstra had lost $78,000 in golf and high-stakes poker
games. Belle's gambling appears to have been considerably more
serious. Baseball's response, regrettably, has not been serious
DARING TO FACE THE FUTURE
Early on the evening of July 21, at the Goodwill Games in
Uniondale, N.Y., 17-year-old gymnast Sang Lan of China made a
simple mistake on a simple practice vault. Sang, her country's
champion in the event, overrotated her somersault, landing on
her head. The impact fractured and dislocated two vertebrae in
her neck and left her lying on the mat unable to move and with
no feeling below the middle of her chest.
Surgeons fused the vertebrae and administered experimental drugs
intended to help regenerate nerve tissue. Sang has some feeling
in her shoulders and can flex her arms, but doctors say she is
unlikely to walk again. Of her daughter's future, Sang's
distraught mother said, "I just dare not imagine it."
One person who does dare imagine it is a woman who, in a sense,
is living it herself. Adriana Duffy was an 18-year-old sophomore
at Stanford and the 1987 Puerto Rican all-around champion when
she fell while performing a practice vault at the '89 world
championships in Stuttgart, Germany, and broke her neck. The
injury left her paralyzed from the midchest down--but far from
"People calling [what happened to Sang] a tragedy should
remember that she is still alive," says Duffy, clearly speaking
for herself as well. Duffy, who uses a wheelchair, graduated
from Stanford in 1993 with a degree in philosophy and religious
studies. She earned a law degree from Yale three years later and
works as an associate with the firm of Orrick, Herrington and
Sutcliffe in San Francisco. Duffy has also become an
internationally accredited gymnastics judge and hopes one day to
officiate at the Olympics. "Gymnastics didn't do this to me; I
love the sport," says Duffy, who refuses to view her
achievements as extraordinary. "If people are impressed because
they think I should be moping around the house being depressed
about my life, they don't get it."
Of Sang's future, Duffy says, "I hope she has as much chance to
live the rest of her life as I've had."
MAN CHOKES MASCOT
Goldie is an exuberant, anteaterlike mascot for the Northern
League's Winnipeg Goldeyes who likes to stomp on the visiting
team's dugout roof. Matt Nokes is a strapping 34-year-old
catcher for the St. Paul Saints who hit 136 home runs in the
majors between 1985 and '95, and who is given to saying, "I
should be in the big leagues right now."
When the Saints visited Winnipeg on July 11, Goldie commenced
his roof dancing with particular vim. Nokes, not enamored of
such bush league fun, warned the mascot to cease. Still Goldie
stomped, finally dislodging a light fixture in the St. Paul
dugout. Nokes, enraged, leaned out of the dugout and screamed at
the long-nosed fur ball, who answered with a thrust of his
pelvis. Nokes clambered atop the dugout, grabbed Goldie and
briefly choked him with a broomstick.
A few innings later Goldie emerged wearing boxing gloves and a
robe and, with the Rocky theme blaring, began taunting Nokes
from the field. Nokes responded by smashing a three-run homer to
key an 8-4 Saints win, and it seemed his triumph was complete
the following day when the teams played again and Goldie stayed
far from the St. Paul dugout. Later, however, Nokes was
suspended for one game by the league. "This is a farce," Nokes
said of his ban. Goldie kept silent.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BT FRED HARPER [Drawing of Jackie Joyner-Kersee waving from podium]
COLOR PHOTO: PRESSE SPORTS ROUGH RIDE Drug busts have turned cycling's biggest race into a Tour de farce. [Tour de France cyclists]
COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS [Michael Johnson]
COLOR PHOTO: AP/DENIS POROY [Street luger]
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY FRED HARPER [Drawing of football player at blocking sled eyeing relaxed baseball player]
--That Senior tour superman Hale Irwin quit picking on guys his
--That shooting percentages in the WNBA rise to match the
intensity of the games.
--That Lawrence Phillips, who was cut by the Dolphins last week
after his umpteenth brush with the law, stay out of trouble--and
Years after Reds first baseman Tony Perez became the first
player to hit a home run into the upper deck of Cinergy Field
(then Riverfront Stadium), that another Reds first baseman, his
son Eduardo, became the 15th and latest to perform the feat.
4.3; 1,410; 1
Grade point average, SAT score and place in class of Springdale
(Pa.) High senior soccer star Lindsay Slomer, who was declared
academically ineligible by the NCAA for failing to meet an
Grammar schools in Great Britain that receive equipment and
financial support from Major League Baseball and the British
Baseball Federation to promote baseball in physical-education
Cost, in dollars, for "an adult to dress, bathe and smell like
Michael Jordan from head to toe," according to an Indianapolis
Star tally of MJ-endorsed products in area malls.
Nonexpansion teams--Angels, Astros, Dodgers, Expos, Marlins, Mets,
Padres, Royals and White Sox--that have never had a player hit 44
home runs in a season, which Mark McGwire has already done in
Which Games Would You Rather Watch?
Admittedly, Ted Turner's cold war-era loss leader has
occasionally gotten lost in the shuffle. But these games, while
not exactly Olympic, at least feature Olympians--in real sports.
If a few sports are out of season, that just adds to the fun;
it's a kick to tune into ice skating one day and boxing the
next. There's also the chance you'll see some history, like the
U.S. men's 4x400-meter world record on July 22. --R.O.
Skysurfing, speed climbing and wakeboarding may be
unconventional, but they make this concoction more than a
watered-down version of the summer of '96. You can watch a
street luger skitter into hay bales at 70 mph, or a hell-bent
skateboarder bonk while trying to catch bigger air. There's a
spirit of one-upmanship that hits the spot for those engaged in
the universal summer event--channel surfing. --Loren Mooney
It's hard to talk baseball these days without having words like
McGwire, Griffey, homer and Yankee dominate the conversation. But
don't let the hubbub surrounding the Maris chase and the other
record onslaughts obscure the real Man of the '90s: Barry Bonds.
The Giants outfielder isn't having his strongest statistical
season (.275, 20 home runs, 68 RBIs through Sunday), but he still
looms large as the decade's most productive player. Here's how
Bonds rates. (Categories list the top five this decade.)
Home Runs RBIs
Ken Griffey Jr. 318 Bonds 939
Mark McGwire 314 Fielder 922
Bonds 310 Belle 921
Albert Belle 296 Frank Thomas 918
Cecil Fielder 287 Griffey 902
Bonds 948 Bonds 1,029
Craig Biggio 877 Thomas 947
Thomas 850 Phillips 864
Griffey 848 Rickey Henderson 854
Tony Phillips 842 McGwire 765
August is here, and NFL training camps are under way. It's a
time for fans to pore over depth charts and muse on their team's
chances for the fall--and for players to ask themselves whether
they picked the right sport after all. Here's how the NFL's
dog-day dog's life stacks up against baseball's vernal idyll.
At NFL Camps Players...
Enjoy the sites in Bethlehem, Pa.; Macomb, Ill.; Mankato,
Minn.; and Wichita Falls, Texas
Face two, sometimes three practices a day
Must memorize 270-page playbook
Take on the blocking sled
Fight for closet space while doubling up in college dorm rooms
Chow down at the team training table
Are expected to turn 20 pounds of fat into muscle by Week 1
At Spring Training Players...
Enjoy the sites in Sarasota, Fla.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Vero
Beach, Fla.; and at Disney World
Face 18, sometimes 27 holes a day
Must memorize hit-and-run sign
Slather on the sunblock
Fight for sunset views while relaxing on the deck of their
Belly up to the bar at Bennigan's
Are expected to "find their strokes" by Opening Day
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
Houghton Mifflin's recently released American history textbook
for fifth-graders, Build Our Nation, covers the Depression and
the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt in 33 lines, while devoting
two pages to Cal Ripken Jr.
They Said It
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle, on his devotion to Bucs
coach Tony Dungy: "I'd take a bullet for him--if it wouldn't kill