SI Vault
Edited by Jack McCallum
July 11, 1994
High-Speed Commuter
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July 11, 1994


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It was also the result of the drugs, a medley of over-the-counter stimulants used for weight-loss treatment as well as for colds and asthma. Still, most of his countrymen refused to accept Maradona's guilt; in one poll, 57.6% believed him to be the victim of a conspiracy.

Maradona wanted to leave the World Cup stage a champion. Instead, he left as its most pathetic figure.

Leaves of Grass

As H.L. Mencken might have put it had he hung around the pro shop, "No one ever lost money by underestimating the taste of the golfing public." Or overestimating its appetite for any product even vaguely links-linked. At least that's what the Four Corners Paper Company of Scottsdale, Ariz., is betting. This week Four Corners will release a product called Golf Paper, a heavyweight paper suitable for use as stationery or in desktop publishing and embedded with—we are not making this up—grass clippings from golf course greens.

Says Four Corners president David Gustafson: "There is a definite mystery that comes with knowing the paper you're holding contains elements that were once part of someone's golf round."

Actually, the mystery is why anyone would buy paper speckled with, in the words of a Four Corners press release, "identifiable flakes." Then again, identifiable flakes are no doubt a big part of Four Corners' target market. The company hopes to sell its Golf Paper through catalogs and office-supply stores. "A lot of people thought we were crazy during development," says Gustafson, "but the finished product speaks for itself."

A Line in the Sand

The powers behind two-man beach volleyball, the sunstruck MTV-age sport that last September was added to the Olympic program for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, are now engaged in another traditional surfside contest: tug-of-war. At one end of the rope is FIVB, the international governing body for volleyball. Digging in and adjusting their shades on the other side are the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP), the beach game's suds 'n' studs pro league, and NBC, which owns the broadcast rights to both the AVP and the Atlanta Games. At stake: the fealty of the sport's best players, "99 percent of whom," says AVP executive director Jeff Dankworth, "currently play on our tour."

FIVB president Ruben Acosta has mandated that to qualify for the Olympics, beach teams (at this point the controversy involves only men's volleyball) must play a minimum of three tournaments per year in the FIVB World Series, an Acosta-created international tour that many suspect was formed to undermine the AVP. Thus, to make the Olympic squad, U.S. players would be required to compete against foreign teams almost exclusively on foreign sand. "Imagine," says Karch Kiraly, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in indoor volleyball and now an AVP legend, " Nancy Kerrigan having to skate in Russia against Oksana Baiul to qualify for the U.S. team."

Acosta's proposal, says Dankworth, is an effort to sandbag AVP players into defecting in order to be eligible for the Olympics. "In essence, he's forcing them to choose between Olympic glory and their tour," says Dankworth. "Now that we've proven how lucrative the sport is, Ruben wants control of it."

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