A TEAM TORN APART
The momentum created by the gold medal performance of the
women's gymnastics team in Atlanta has been slowed by a
promotional struggle that has turned the Magnificent Seven into
the Somewhat Less Magnificent Six Plus One. On Monday night in
Houston, the Six--Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes,
Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu and Jaycie Phelps--were
scheduled to perform as Team USA in the first of nine
competitions involving the six of them. (The opponents on Monday
are a team of gymnasts from Russia, China, Belarus and Canada.)
Those competitions, as well as a 34-performance exhibition tour,
are being sponsored by John Hancock, Jefferson-Pilot Corp. and
Bill Graham Presents.
The One, Kerri Strug, was not in Houston, nor is she likely to
join her former teammates at any of the exhibition stops. Strug
has instead cast her lot with a tour sponsored by Magic
Productions Inc., a Cleveland-based company that produces
Broadway musicals, figure skating exhibitions and the shows of
magician David Copperfield. "We've been reading that Kerri wants
to be a team player," says Miller, "but she's the one who broke
up the team."
True, but she may have had good reason: Some observers believe
the other gymnasts undersold themselves to the Hancock tour.
Each was to make about $3,500 per exhibition stop, which
amounted to $119,000 for appearing in all 34 performances. There
were also guaranteed appearance fees for the competitions,
ranging from a top of about $90,000 down to about $60,000. That
brought the take for a headliner like Dawes to about $210,000.
September 8, 1996
Was that a fair reflection of their market value? Eddie Einhorn,
a TV consultant and co-owner of the Chicago White Sox, thinks
not. Last month he offered the Magnificent Seven $1 million each
to join yet another tour. Dawes's advisers explored the
possibility of breaking her contract but decided they could not,
and the others--except for Strug--pledged fealty to the original
tour. The Einhorn offer, though, did bear fruit for the
gymnasts: The athletes' pay on the Hancock tour was increased to
about $6,000 per stop, or an additional $85,000 per gymnast, and
the competition appearance fees were also increased. The Hancock
tour representatives would not reveal those revised guarantees.
Meanwhile, USA Gymnastics, the sport's governing body, will
receive 24% of the Hancock tour's net ticket sales, or nearly
$2.5 million, and several of the gymnasts' coaches (including
Miller's Steve Nunno and Moceanu's Bela Karolyi) have made
undisclosed financial arrangements with Hancock to travel with
the tour. Einhorn, among others, finds those arrangements far
too cozy. "I think the athletes are being ripped off," he says,
"and too many other people are making too much money."
The people involved in the Hancock tour deny that and
say--rightly--that they took considerable risk by making a
financial commitment before anyone knew how golden the U.S.
golden girls would be. "We've been involved in this long term,"
says Stan Feig, one of three tour promoters. "These other tours
have been pure ambush."
Says Miller: "It has been very confusing. We were getting all
kinds of advice from all areas. The bottom line, though, is that
we love Kerri and hope we can work something out. We want to be
a team again."
IF THE NAME FITS...
Joe Robbie Stadium is now called Pro Player Park after the
apparel company that agreed to pay $20 million over 10 years for
the honor. While the name is appropriate to a stadium that is
home to the Miami Dolphins and the Florida Marlins, it seems an
odd moniker for a park that will also serve as host to college
football teams in the Orange Bowl game and the Nov. 23 matchup
between Maryland and Florida State. Then again, given the
climate of today's big-time college ball and the fact that in
1993 six Seminole players accepted money and merchandise from
agents, Pro Player Park may be apt after all.
A MAN OF STYLE, AND SUBSTANCE
Though New York City and noted Swedish introvert Stefan Edberg
have never been the most compatible of pairs, it was no shock
last week to find the 1996 U.S. Open transformed into a loving
farewell. Edberg had announced that he would retire from the pro
tennis tour at the end of this year, and the folks at Flushing
Meadow make a habit of sending off their champions in style.
However, with victories over Wimbledon winner Richard Krajicek,
Germany's Bernd Karbacher and Holland's Paul Haarhuis, as of
Sunday, Edberg had yet to say goodbye.
The encomiums tossed at Edberg almost invariably centered on his
steady personality, his unblemished reputation, his role as the
sport's antibrat. Andre Agassi: "He only adds to the game. His
image and his person are impeccable." Pete Sampras: "If you're
looking for a role model for kids, he's your guy. He didn't say
a lot of controversial things; he just let his racket do the
But it's the 30-year-old Edberg's elegant, increasingly rare
chip-and-charge style of play that will be missed most, even by
the world's No. 1 player. "Edberg is really the last true
serve-and-volley player," says Sampras. In this age of high-tech
rackets and topspin returns that snap over the net and plummet
to court, serve-and-volleyers like Edberg risk getting undressed
by any teenager with a souped-up Wilson. Players like Krajicek,
Sampras and Boris Becker have the skills to serve and volley,
and do so in varying degrees, but today's game doesn't allow for
the kind of dedication Edberg gave to his craft. "You can't just
do one thing well and expect to win," says Agassi. "If you just
sound the horn--I'm coming forward!--it's tough to really
compete with the best of them."
Still, for a long time--a record 54 straight Grand Slam
appearances--Edberg did just that. He won two Wimbledons, two
Australian and two U.S. Opens. His second championship at
Flushing Meadow, a magnificent and grueling grind through the
1992 field, proved his enduring greatness. But he has spent the
last four years bewildered by his growing lack of motivation. He
sank as low as 55th in the world this year before recovering to
his current No. 28, which isn't good enough for him. "If I'm
going to be out there, I want to be in the top 10 and really
have a chance of winning a Grand Slam," says Edberg. "I've been
on the tour for many, many years. It's time for me to go now,
before it's too late."
And when he finally does go--he was scheduled to play Tim Henman
on Tuesday--he will be missed. The sight of Edberg serving with
full command and ranging along the net to drop one soft,
perfectly angled volley after another just beyond his opponent's
reach was a beautiful one. It was also a sad one, like watching
some glassblower fashion piece after flawless piece, plying a
trade that the world seems intent on leaving behind.
THE RIGHT MAN
Over the last three years veteran NBA backcourtman Vernon
Maxwell has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of
marijuana possession; been sentenced to 90 days in jail after
failing to complete rehab and undergo drug testing ordered by
the court as a result of that plea (his lawyers are appealing);
been arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for unlawfully
carrying a weapon and allegedly waving a handgun at a motorist
(he paid a fine and then performed community service); been
arrested and charged with resisting arrest after a fight with a
nightclub bouncer; and been suspended for 10 games and fined
$20,000 for punching a heckler in Portland. After Mad Max signed
a free-agent contract with the San Antonio Spurs last week,
coach Bob Hill said, "I want him to be feisty. I want him to
Rarely has one player been so likely to live up to a coach's
Longtime Yale football coach Carm Cozza is expected to announce
his retirement next week, some three decades after senior writer
Leigh Montville first "retired" him. Here's how Montville
remembers that low point of his journalistic career:
The year was 1966. I was heading into my second college football
season as a sportswriter. I was 23 years old. I covered Yale and
the Ivy League for the New Haven Journal-Courier, a newspaper
that no longer exists.
"I want you to write a story," my editor said. "I want you to
write that the coach, Carmen Cozza, is going to be fired if Yale
doesn't win this year."
"He's only been on the job for a year," I said. "How could he be
fired so soon?"
"He's gone," my boss said. "I have sources."
I said this was a heck of a story, and I should talk to these
sources right away. My boss said I could not do that. His
sources were confidential. I should just start typing. I said
that his sources weren't my sources and that I should talk to
someone who would tell me the story, if I was going to have my
name on it, and.... My boss told me to start typing. I started
The story appeared under a big headline. Cozza was very mad. He
confronted me after the first practice of the year. His wife, he
said, was upset. His entire family was upset. Everyone at Yale
was upset. How could I write this story? Who were these sources?
"I can't reveal my sources," I mumbled. Which certainly was true.
This Saturday, after a scrimmage with Plymouth (N.H.) State,
Cozza is expected to announce that he will retire at the end of
the 1996 season. He has been the coach at Yale since 1965. His
record is 177-111-5. His teams have won 10 Ivy League titles. He
has been a gentleman, a teacher, a leader, all the things a
college coach is supposed to be. His love for the game, for his
players, for his school has been obvious.
I guess those sources were wrong.
YO! WHERE SHOULD I STAND?
For 10 years a statue of Rocky Balboa, the celluloid boxer, has
stood outside the Spectrum, home of the Philadelphia Flyers and
the 76ers. But the teams have moved to the nearby CoreStates
Center, and some Philadelphians are worried that if the Rocky
statue stays put, it will fade into obscurity, the way Rocky
himself might have were it not for sequels and VCRs.
Some want the statue relocated near the Art Museum entrance,
where Rocky raised his arms in triumph after running the steps.
Others want the sculpture to be placed in the Italian Market,
through which the Italian Stallion ran and waved to cheering
fans. There is also a movement to deport the statue to
Kensington, a Philadelphia neighborhood of narrow streets and
row houses, where Rocky lived and trained. Then there's the
suggestion from Aaron Freeman, a resident of the Pennsylvania
state correctional institution at Rockview. "The Rocky statue
would look great in my cell because I am the only one in this
cell and have no one to talk to," Freeman wrote to The
Philadelphia Daily News. An interesting suggestion, Aaron, but
have you thought about this? Rocky, as depicted by Sly Stallone,
was not a terrific conversationalist. The statue version is only
Miles to be traveled in airplanes by the San Diego Chargers this
season, the most in the NFL.
Overtime interceptions returned for touchdowns in the NFL in
'95, equaling the total for the last 20 years.
Price in dollars for stadium parking at, respectively, San
Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals games.
Jersey number worn by the last two NFL offensive rookies of the
year, Marshall Faulk (1995) and Curtis Martin.
Games, of the 27 played by the Minnesota Vikings since Oct. 20,
1994, that have gone into overtime.
Pages devoted to Dan Marino in the Miami Dolphins '96 press guide.
Television stations providing daily coverage of the Carolina
Panthers, more than double the NFL average.
MIND OVER BODY
Legendary teacher Vanda Scaravelli of Italy has practiced the
art of yoga for four decades. At 88 she's still stretching her
Ardha Matsyendrasana: Half Lord of the Fishes pose
Malasana: Garland or wreath pose
Uttanasana: Intense stretch pose
Bending into Kapotasana: Dove pose
RABBIT HOLES OUT
Golf Dreams: Writings on Golf by John Updike (Alfred A. Knopf,
For a seemingly simple game, golf proves infuriatingly complex,
which helps explain why it is the subject of more than 9,000
books in English alone. The number of keepers among these
volumes is tiny, but even the most finicky of golf librarians
will welcome this new collection of 30 pieces by one of
America's most celebrated authors.
Over the past four decades Updike has achieved fame as a
distinguished writer of fiction, essays and criticism. That he
is a sportswriter is not as well known, but there he is, in the
membership directory of the Golf Writers Association of America,
smack dab between Les Unger of the United States Golf
Association and Marion A. Valanoski of the Hazleton (Pa.)
Standard-Speaker. Most of the pieces in Golf Dreams will be
familiar to Updike buffs, but to have them in a single
depository--between hard covers, protected by a green dust
jacket with plaid borders--is a pleasant convenience. Long lines
of Updike fans have stood at Xerox machines in recent years
waiting to make copies of his "Farrell's Caddie," a short story
that first appeared in The New Yorker in 1991 and is included in
Golf as a dream is a motif for Updike; his golf courses are
populated by people who would seem ordinary on the street but
who on the links become larger than life. Not surprisingly,
Sandy, the Scottish caddie in "Farrell's Caddie," understands
the business and romantic entanglements of his visiting American
charge, Augustus Farrell, more deeply than Farrell himself.
If you have ever seen Updike swing a club--oddly enough, a
free-swinging Updike was once on Nightline as part of a segment
devoted to the allure of golf--you know his form is limber and
sprightly, unique, alive, just like his prose. Farrell's caddie
says, "Ye kin tell a' aboot a man, frae th' way he gowfs"--and
that's true. You may also tell a lot about a man from the way he
writes. Updike understands golf, keenly, and expresses his
understanding with charm and beauty, in words as sturdy as Lee
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
Zimbabwe's national soccer team has named as its manager Bruce
Grobbelaar, a goalkeeper in the English Second Division who in
January 1997 will appear at Winchester Crown Court to answer
THEY SAID IT
Baltimore Orioles reliever, on his recent shoulder surgery
performed by orthopedist Lewis Yocum: "He lubed it, oiled it,
filtered it. I opted for the new-car scent instead of apple