SI Vault
Edited by Alexander Wolff and Christian Stone
May 01, 1995
Burnout and the Flame
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May 01, 1995


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Chafee is a conservationist in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt, and environmentalists hope he'll lead the Senate in blocking the most odious measures to pass the House. But national environmental groups have only themselves to blame for the disappearance of issues dearest to them from the national agenda. "I heard the other day from a senator who said that he'd gotten only 30 letters objecting to efforts to repeal the Endangered Species Act," says Bud Ward, a longtime environmental journalist. "Thirty is nothing—a yawn, basically. All this could change next week with the next Three Mile Island or Exxon Valdez. It's a shame it takes that kind of thing, but that's the nature of our society."

Cats' Meow
It's fitting that the Cincinnati Bengals chose Ki-Jana Carter with the first pick in last week's NFL draft and that they obtained the selection from the Carolina Panthers. The former Penn State running back played youth league ball in his hometown of Westerville, Ohio, for a team called the Bengals, stepped up to the Blendon Middle School Bobcats soon thereafter and starred for the Wildcats of Westerville South High before joining the Nittany Lions. That Carter should play out his many football lives for various feline groups must make perfect sense in his mother, Kathy. Her nickname is Cat.

Vadakin IX

At his team's first practice back in October, Wichita State bowling coach Gordon Vadakin mandated that all of his bowlers scrawl the phrase "1995 Men's and Women's Intercollegiate National Champion: Wichita State" on a piece of paper and carry the written mantra wherever they went. The punishment for being caught without the inscription: an instant 50 push-ups or sit-ups. On Saturday, at the national championships in Knoxville, Tenn., the power of the preemptive prognostication paid off for the Shocker men, who won their third consecutive national title and the ninth in Vadakin's 17 years at the school by defeating West Texas State, (The women, who have won six titles, lost to Nebraska in the finals.) "My job as coach is to convince these players to be positive, with daily affirmations or whatever," says Vadakin, who fields letters from 700 high school seniors asking for tryouts each year. "The outcome is not necessarily as important as the learning process along the way. Outcomes almost always muddy the waters."

On the same day, at pro bowling's equivalent of the college nationals, the Brunswick World Tournament of Champions in Lake Zurich, Ill., Wichita State I alumnus Pat Healey didn't fare as well, losing to Mike Aulby in the semifinals, Aulby, who earlier this season had won the PBA Championship and the U.S. Open, went on to win and become only the fourth triple crown winner in PBA history. Aulby never went to college, but this season he, too, has been a Shocker of sorts, inasmuch as he went the previous season without a single tournament win.

The Three R's
During the strike-prolonged off-season Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf refused to spend his money to keep lack McDowell, Julio Franco, Darrin Jackson or Joey Cora on the South Side. He gave McDowell to the Yankees and let Franco and Jackson drift off to Japan, and Cora to Seattle. But Reinsdorf has no compunction about opening up his wallet for Chicago politicians in trouble with the law. He has donated $10,000 to the legal defense fund of former House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski, who ?aces corruption charges in Washington, and he has reportedly guaranteed a $30,000 loan to Congressman Mel Reynolds, who faces a possible jail sentence on charges of having sex with a 16-year-old girl. Had McDowell robbed a bank over the off-season and Franco driven the getaway car, Chisox fans might be entertaining greater expectations this spring.

Losing One's Marbles
Minutes before the start of the British Marbles Championship in Sussex last week, the event's organizers learned that their shipment of new competition marbles had been lost in the mail. They scoured the neighborhood and came up with what they believed to be a satisfactory' substitute: chocolate malt balls, which, despite their lightness, were roughly the same circumference as regulation marbles. Alas, the chocolate soon began to melt in the unseasonably warm temperatures. Happily, an old set of practice marbles was found, thus delivering the event from its sticky situation.

Break Out the Ajax
With its league of nations, the World League of American Football, the NFL hoped to find a way to flog the game to philistines on the Continent who hadn't yet beheld the beauty of a tight spiral or heard the music of a lineman's grunt. But judging from an incident that occurred recently, you can't take the WLAF anywhere. Or at least you can't take the Amsterdam Admirals to Stadion De Meer, a soccer stadium in that Dutch city. On April 17, two days after the Admirals hosted the Frankfurt Galaxy there, the usual tenant, the world-famous Ajax soccer club, showed up to find its locker room strewn with tape, cans, cups and mud. Amsterdam is the untidiest of cities and Holland the most permissive of countries, but the scene was evidently disgusting even by local standards. "It was like a pigsty," said Louis van Gaal, Ajax's manager. "We don't clean our cleats by pounding them against the wall. We throw empty cans and tape in a trash can. You haven't heard the last of this."

Child of Kings

When she was two years old and had been attending Los Angeles King games for less than a year, Jenna Belcher admonished her mother: "Sit down. I can't see the power play." Now, four years later, Jenna is an experienced television analyst. Filling in on Prime Sports network's pre-game show on April 12, Jenna, 6, appeared at ease, flashing made-for-TV dimples that disappeared only when she assessed the Kings' grim playoff prospects. Later that day Jenna joined the L.A. media in its ritual of tormenting coach Barry Melrose. "He's traded all the good players," she said of Melrose, who was fired nine days later.

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