Utah Olympic Scandal
WHAT'S BURIED IN THE BIDS
The charges of vote-buying by the Salt Lake City Olympic bid
committee that surfaced last week won't cost Utah the 2002
Winter Games, but the International Olympic Committee's probe
into the scandal is likely to shed more light on the seamy side
of the Olympic bidding process.
Last weekend the IOC launched an investigation into the $400,000
the Salt Lake bid committee spent between 1991 and '95 on U.S.
college tuition for 13 foreign students. Six of the
beneficiaries were relatives of IOC members who voted in the '95
balloting that awarded the Games to Salt Lake City. "In
hindsight, I believe the program should not have been part of
the campaign," Salt Lake Olympic Committee president Frank
Joklik said, though he denied the tuition payments were meant as
bribes. Education funds were just part of the juice spread by
the Salt Lake bid committee as it vied to host the 2002 Games.
On Sunday, Utah's largest health-care provider, Intermountain
Health Care, admitted that it gave, through the bid group, free
surgical services in 1994 to at least two IOC members or their
relatives. Sources close to the SLOC told SI that the bid
committee also arranged for shopping sprees and ski weekends for
IOC officials ostensibly visiting Utah to inspect prospective
Such perks violate IOC rules--historically observed in the
breach--that prohibits officials from accepting gifts valued at
more than $150 from bidding cities. Several high-ranking
international and U.S. sports officials have told SI about being
asked by IOC members for everything from cash to vacations to
sexual favors as part of the bidding process through the years.
Last weekend 80-year-old Swiss lawyer Marc Hodler, the IOC's
longest-serving member, rocked the committee's quarterly meeting
in Lausanne with accusations that in the last 10 years IOC
members or their representatives have demanded millions of
dollars to deliver votes to bidding cities.
IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who has told the
investigative panel to look into Salt Lake's activities, says he
will expel any IOC members found to be corrupt. He should also
revamp the system by which Olympic cities are chosen. The
current process grants a vote to all 115 IOC members, many of
whom--because they represent nations that field small Olympic
squads or, in the Winter Games, none at all--have little
interest in where the Olympics are held. Such members could be
more easily tempted to cast their votes for cities that offer
the most graft. Says one member of the SLOC board of directors,
"Despite what the IOC says, putting on the Games isn't about the
athletes. It's about money."
Archie Moore (1913?-1998)
A SMILING CHAMPION
Archie Moore, who said he was 39 when he won the light
heavyweight title in 1952 (he was to hold it for 10 years), was
the only boxer to face both Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.
Moore, who died last week at age 84, lost those fights, but he
won 194 others (against 26 defeats and eight draws) in a career
that ran from '36 to '63. His total of 141 knockouts is the
professional record. One "opponent" who went the distance,
George Plimpton, remembers the Old Mongoose.
A.J. Liebling described Moore's eyebrows as he confronted
Marciano as "rising like storm clouds above the Sea of Azov." I
have my own mental image from when I "fought" him (a three-round
bout in 1959, an early foray into participatory journalism that
I wrote about for SI). I not only suffered a severe nosebleed,
but, thanks to a congenital condition known as "sympathetic
response," also moved around the ring in tears. As I stared at
Moore, I was struck by how composed he looked, a pleasant face,
kind-eyed. In a clinch he whispered to me, "Breathe, man,
We kept in touch over the years. He would reminisce. He told me
that one of his first fights was against a brawler known as
Piano Mover Jones. "He was a furniture mover in Hot Springs,
Arkansas," Archie said, "who could lift an upright piano into
the back of a truck. I played a tune on him." He fought more
than 200 times after that, and his knockout total is one of
those truly unassailable sports records. Toward the end of 28
years in the ring he said, "I'm like the drunk in the bar who
wants just one more for the road." He was almost 50 when, in his
last fight, he knocked out a man named Mike DiBiase in the third
Moore became a trainer after that. I saw him when he was with
George Foreman's camp in Zaire for the Rumble in the Jungle in
1974. Among other tasks, he had the unenviable job of countering
Muhammad Ali's poetic ramblings with some of his own. Pretty
Foreman's left will make you dance
Turkey in the straw
When his right connects with your mandible
I stayed with Moore once in his house in San Diego. In the
backyard he had installed a small swimming pool in the shape of
a boxing glove, with the steps down the curve of the thumb.
Inside the house the bathroom faucets were gold leaping
dolphins. Archie flushed every one of the toilets to show me
they were in working order. In the living room a large picture
window looked out on the heavy flow of traffic on the
interstate. "What I like about the view," he said, "is that it
is always changing."
That was like him, to put the best light on things. Boxing had
been good to him, and he to it. More than once he said that when
the time came, they could put on his tombstone HERE LIES ARCHIE
DOWN! SET! SWISH!
Mark Rodenhauser, the Pittsburgh Steelers' long snapper, can
hike a football through a basketball hoop. He says he averages
60% from half-court and 20% from full court. Rodenhauser
developed this Stupid Snapper Trick during the bitter winters
in his native Chicago, when he was often forced to take his
football into his high school's gym. "I couldn't shoot a
basketball, so I figured I might as well bend over and do it,"
Has Shaq tried this?
NBA Good Guys
OWNERS YOU CAN TRUST
One thing the NBA lockout has proved is that there's no shortage
of greed on either side of the dispute. At least two owners,
however, will be giving generously when, or if, the dispute is
Ray Chambers and Lewis Katz, part of a group that paid $150
million for the New Jersey Nets last month, have placed their
shares--roughly 35% of the team--in a trust for inner-city youth
in New Jersey. (Several of their co-owners have also agreed to
contribute.) Any profits the trust realizes, from continuing
operations or from the eventual sale of the team, will go to
scholarships, mentoring programs and other services for youth in
Newark, Trenton, Camden, Paterson and Jersey City. "We have
enough money," says Katz, a parking-lot magnate. "What we don't
have is enough time to solve the problems that affect inner
Pop Warner Football
RUGRATS: THE SUPER BOWL
It's a scaled-down version of the real thing, with scaled-down
players. But there's nothing small-time about the Pop Warner
Super Bowl. This year's event, held last Saturday at Disney's
Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, featured 36 teams from
around the country, including a squad from Hawaii, and another
from Moscow (Russia, not Idaho), gunning for titles in five
divisions. The players, who ranged in age from eight to 15, got
to visit the Magic Kingdom and play on plush grass before
hundreds of spectators. Best of all, Up with People was nowhere
to be found.
When the smoke cleared, the Naples (Fla.) Gators were the new
champions of the premier division, for kids aged 11 to 15,
thanks to a 45-12 win over the New Britain (Conn.) Raiders.
Other age-group champs included the Miami Northwest Falcons, the
Liberty City (Fla.) Falcons and the Winston-Salem (N.C.)
Falcons. Win or lose, a Super time was had by all. As
12-year-old Terry Perry of Miami Northwest said, "The only thing
more exciting is Christmas."
THE FINAL FALL
In Fall of the Phantom Lord, published last month by Anchor
Books, Andrew Todhunter explores the fascinating, frightening
world of Dan Osman, a rock climber known for taking risks
extreme even by the extreme standards of his sport. Todhunter, a
contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, describes Osman's solo
climbs of harrowing routes without ropes and his free falls off
bridges and mountains from record-setting heights of 500 feet
and more. On his free falls Osman, attached to a single rope and
a harness, plummeted toward the ground, yet because of the angle
of his jump and the spot at which his rope was attached, he
ended up swinging pendulumlike to a safe landing. "It is only
when he completes the visualization that the risk of what he is
about to attempt becomes clear...." writes Todhunter, describing
Osman's preparations for one 700-foot plunge. "[H]is fear leaps
to the next plateau. Sweat runs from his pores and freezes.
Goose bumps rise across his skin."
Trying to master that fear, according to Todhunter, is what drove
Osman. It is also what got him killed.
On the night of Nov. 23, Osman, a 35-year-old part-time
carpenter who lived in South Lake Tahoe, Nev., stepped to the
edge of a 1,000-foot-high rock formation in Yosemite National
Park. He had made this jump before, but this time it was dark.
Osman wore a headlamp. He leaped. The rope snapped, and he fell
to his death.
In the aftermath Fall of the Phantom Lord becomes a haunting
read. Todhunter, who lives in New York's Catskill Mountains,
recalls his experiences with Osman, a warmhearted man who, the
author says, was "overtly aware" of his mortality. "Much of his
life was about his fear of death."
Osman, who had almost no assets, left a 12-year-old daughter,
Emma. (A trust fund has been set up to help her.) Todhunter
refuses to romanticize Osman's death. He refers to a passage in
Fall of the Phantom Lord, in which Osman discusses the
possibility of a fatal fall: "By dying I would let everybody
down--my family, my friends.... I say free-soloing is not a
death wish, and then it happens, and people are like, 'Hey
you've obviously been talking s--- the whole time.'"
Says Todhunter, "I think he pictured himself challenging
mortality but always coming home to his daughter. Dan didn't
want to die that way."
NINE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS: ILLUSTRATIONS BY CAROLYN FISHER All in the Cards Holiday hellos from those near and dear to us in the world of sports [Drawings of holiday and Christmas cards from Reggie White; the Rodmans; the Moceanus; Jeff Gordon; NBA Owners; NBA Players Assoc.; Roger Clemens; Bill Parcells; Major League Umps and NFL Refs]
B/W PHOTO: HERB SCHARFMAN BLOOD TIES After their 1959 "fight," Moore and Plimpton kept in touch. [Archie Moore and George Plimpton after boxing match]
COLOR PHOTO: TOM SZLUKOVENYI/REUTERS A Little off the Top Gold medalist Zhou Xiaojing of China gave a captivating--though, appearances aside, not decapitating--performance during her clubs routine in the rhythmic gymnastics all-around final at the Asian Games in Bangkok on Sunday. [Zhou Xiaojing executing mid-air gymnastic routine with head bent back far enough to appear missing]
COLOR PHOTO: CARYN LEVY POP CULTURE Super Bowl drama took on a diminutive form in Orlando. [Children playing football in Pop Warner Super Bowl]
FIVE COLOR PHOTOS: MARY SCHILPP/CLP (5) [See caption above--cheerleaders; boys stretching; injured boy on sidelines; boy on bench; boys playing football]
--That Sandy Koufax didn't turn green when he heard of Kevin
Brown's deal with the Dodgers.
--That those gloating 1972 Dolphins threw out their creaky backs
celebrating the Broncos' loss.
--That sitting through the presentation ceremony were not the
most daunting part of winning the Heisman.
--That departing Chargers coach June Jones finds happiness
somewhere over the Rainbows.
Dollars earned by Nets center Jayson Williams for carrying Arturo
Gatti's spit bucket during Gatti's 10-round loss to Ivan Robinson
in Atlantic City.
Years in a row that a Japanese team has won best-in-show at the
Double Dutch Holiday Classic jump-rope contest held at Harlem's
Amount, in dollars, of Revlon chairman Ronald Perelman's winning
bid at a charity auction for a private hockey lesson from Wayne
Difference, in dollars, in USC's funding for men's ($809,570)
and women's ($129,626) basketball in 1996-97, according to a
discrimination complaint filed by the National Organization for
Base salary, in dollars, of Bills quarterback Doug Flutie this
Dollars Flutie has earned so far in bonuses based on playing time
Second-half points scored by the boys' basketball team from
Wentworth Military Academy of Lexington, Mo., in a 95-22 loss to
Lone Jack (Mo.) High.
The 20 1/2-11 1/2 thrashing the U.S. received from the
International team in golf's Presidents Cup was the worst loss
ever suffered by an American team in match play. The U.S. should
have seen it coming. After decades of American hegemony in
international competitions, the balance of power is shifting.
Here's how U.S. dominance has diminished in the past two
decades, as measured by performance in the Ryder Cup and the
Presidents Cup, which was first played in 1994.
DECADE U.S. WINS INTERNATIONAL WINS AVG. FINAL SCORE
1920s-30s* 4 2 6.8-4.3
1940s-50s* 6 1 7.9-4.1
1960s* 5 0 19.3-11.1
1970s* 5 0 17.6-11.2
1980s* 2 3 14.3-13.7
1990s 4 3 14.8-14.8
*Ryder Cups  Ryder and Presidents Cups
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
The 40-page December issue of Rip City, the official publication
of the Portland Trail Blazers, does not contain a single photo
of or reference to a current Blazers player.
They Said It
Astros general manager, explaining why Houston pulled out of the
Roger Clemens sweepstakes: "The talent we would have to
potentially give up would leave us with a team that Roger
Clemens would not want to play for."