Patience was the key to winning Sunday's windswept New York City Marathon, and patience is a quality that South Africa's 28-year-old Willie Mtolo, the winner of that race, has in abundance. In the years after international sports federations banned South Africa from most competitions following the 1960 Olympics because of its policy of apartheid, some of the nation's best athletes grew so frustrated with the ostracism that they moved abroad. Among them were Sydney Maree, who became a U.S. citizen, and Zola Budd, who lived for several years in England.
But most, like Mtolo, remained at home and waited. What are minutes to a man who has been waiting years? For most of Sunday's race, Mtolo bided his time, waiting for the rolling hills of Central Park, where strength would tell. Mtolo surged past Andres Espinosa of Mexico on the first hill and ran unpressed to the finish, which he reached in 2:09:29.
Mtolo is determined to take advantage of his status as a national hero to both black and white children in South Africa. Two years ago he launched a kind of one-man integration drive. He brought 100 kids from Durban—virtually all of them white—to spend a weekend on his family farm in Kilimon in the company of local black children. Perhaps the next generation of South African athletes will not have to be quite so patient.
Now that the Associated Press poll will be used by the new bowl coalition to determine some postseason pairings, and because the wire service wanted to hold its electoral college of sportswriters more accountable for their votes, the AP decided this year that the poll should no longer be conducted by secret ballot. When the situation calls for it, the AP reveals which team each of its 62 voters selected as No. 1. The new policy has made a minor celebrity of Corky Simpson of the Tucson Citizen, the only voter who has consistently picked Alabama No. 1 over Miami or Washington, and last week it created major headaches for Dan Raley, an AP voter who covers Washington for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Raley regularly voted the Huskies his No. 1 team. However, after covering Washington's uninspiring 31-7 victory over Pacific on Oct. 24, Raley changed his vote, moving Washington to No. 2 behind Miami. After Raley's switch was made public, he said he hadn't been able to make up his mind, so he flipped a coin. Raley later said he had only been making a "flip comment," but last Saturday, in the final moments of Washington's 41-7 rout of Stanford at Husky Stadium, a number of fans taunted Raley as he made his way through the crowd toward the locker room. And Lincoln Kennedy, the Huskies' normally jovial offensive tackle, said he would never give Raley another interview. Raley was so impressed by Washington's defeat of Stanford—or shaken by the abuse—that he voted the Huskies No. 1 last week, and that is where they finished.
The flap raises interesting questions about the AP poll and the bowl alliance, which was created to increase the chances that a postseason matchup will determine who's No. 1. With bowl pairings based on the final regular-season AP poll, it's conceivable that one writer's vote could determine which team goes where. With millions of dollars and the prestige of a national title at stake, sportswriters should be covering the story, not determining it.
Ticket to Ride
When actress and Northwestern alumna Shelley Long, star of the rollicking sperm-hank comedy Frozen Assets, was unable to fulfill her commitment to be grand marshal of the university's homecoming festivities last weekend, SI senior writer Rick Telander, a former All-Big Ten defensive hack for the Wildcats, was asked to sit in for the traditional convertible ride. He filed the following report.
The weekend began last Thursday night, when I gave a fireside talk at Norris Center, the student union, attempting to explain why someone who has been so critical of big-time college football, as I have, should be anywhere near this celebration. No shots were fired. Coach Gary Barnett sneaked in to listen. Afterward he came up and shook my hand, implying that he didn't hate me.