Some 15 months ago Harmon Brown, an American physician on the IAAF medical committee, recommended to the Games' medical support group that the marathon begin no later than 8 a.m. Nebiolo dismissed these concerns recently when he said, "We have a tradition from history that the Olympic marathon was always the last event before the closing ceremony." In truth, only since the Los Angeles Games in 1984 has the marathon led into the closing ceremonies. Before that the race took place at various times throughout the Games, without losing any drama or spectator appeal. Recall Abebe Bikila finishing his glorious barefoot run in 1960 under spotlights beside Rome's Arch of Constantine—long after the cobblestones of the Appian Way had cooled. In fact, at both the 1988 Seoul and the 1992 Barcelona Games, the men's marathons finished in half-empty stadiums well before most closing-ceremony ticket holders had arrived.
But these arguments appear to have counted for little with Nebiolo and Samaranch. As for the athletes, despite some grumbling, they'll run whenever the race is held. "We'll all try to be flexible in our preparation," says Ed Eyestone, a veteran of the last two Olympic marathons and a favorite to make the 1996 U.S. team. "But it could be a death march. I'm afraid that's what it's going to take to convince the IOC: for someone to run into real problems out there."
The End of History
With replacement baseball mercifully a thing of the past, Dick Hannasch, an SI reader from Huxley, Iowa, took a fanciful look back at the pseudoseason that ended last week with a scintillating World Series in which the San Francisco Gi-ain'ts defeated the Cleveland Stand-indians. Hannasch went on to speculate about who'll someday earn election to the Replacement Hall of Fame. His top candidates: Dupe Snider, Pete Ruse, Harmon Fillinbrew, Henry Errin' and Faux Jackson.
Our first-ballot shoo-in: the St. Louis Dis-cardinal star outfielder, Lieu Brock.
CBS commentator Billy Packer has never concealed his contempt for women's basketball. During a broadcast he once speculated on the kind of wife Mississippi's Jennifer Gillom would make, and he has advanced the proposition that women's teams be done away with entirely—that real gender equity will result only if there's a single team for which both men and women try out. Thus it was hardly surprising to hear him express incredulity last week that CBS's broadcast of the NCAA women's title game between Connecticut and Tennessee pulled down a 5.7 Nielsen rating, outdrawing both the 4.0 for the Phoenix Sun- San Antonio Spur game on NBC against which the women went up, and the 3.7 for the men's showdown between SEC powers Arkansas and Kentucky on Jan. 29.
Packer insists he was questioning the validity of the Nielsens, not denigrating women's basketball. But it's odd that Packer—a relentless booster of college hoops when he stands to benefit—never suggests that the ratings overstate interest in the men's game. All of this brings to mind a line one wag once used to describe Packer: "He's a master of X's and O's. It's the other 24 letters of the alphabet he has trouble with."
Stop, Get Ticket
Because the New Jersey Nets play at Meadowlands Arena just oil the New Jersey Turnpike, folks around the NBA refer to the team as the Exit 16W Nets. Now the U.S. Basketball League is adding a team called the Jersey Turnpikes. They'll play in Hoboken—which would make them the Exit 14C Turnpikes.
Stamp of Disapproval