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


View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

Generation X-treme
So-called extreme sports show up more and more frequently on the Beavis and Butkus network, ESPN2, and dominate such cult magazines as Thrasher. Here are the most colorful phrases from some of these gnarly pastimes, with translations from the original Sanskrit:




Yard sale


Wholesale chaos resulting from crashed aerialist's equipment scattering across hill.



Hazardous road surface. Not to be confused with less perilous "scrambled eggs."

Puke a wheel


To melt wheel through friction. As in "too much bacon will make you puke a wheel!"

Go Richter


To pull off move with degree of difficulty so high that it's off the scale.

Sewing machine


Uncontrollable shaking of legs when in awkward position, a.k.a. Elvis Syndrome.



Hands on bars, feet off pedals, butt off seat--and, presumably, brain off moorings.

Burnout and the Flame

On Monday USA Basketball chose Lenny Wilkens to coach Dream Team III in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Wilkens, the taciturn coach of the hometown Hawks and an assistant at the '92 Games in Barcelona, is a self-effacing winner who still smarts at having been passed over as a guard on the '60 Olympic team. He's as good a choice as any. Still, the questions occur: Does Wilkens's appointment come at the expense of his employer—or, worse, of his health?

Wilkens will be working a sideline nonstop from October 1995 through at least April '97, and there's a long casualty list of coaches who, having volunteered to lead American teams into international competition, paid a price for carrying an additional clipboard. In the seasons following his unavailing quest for the '88 gold medal in Seoul, combative Georgetown coach John Thompson adopted a mellower public mien, began hugging referees and watched his program slip. During a seven-year span between 1988 and '94, the only season in which Mike Krzyzewski failed to guide Duke to the Final Four followed the summer of '92, which he spent as a Dream Team assistant. The stress of coaching Dream Team II at the world championships last summer is surely one of the reasons Golden State Warrior coach Don Nelson suffered through a disastrous season, during which he was hospitalized with pneumonia and ultimately quit. Kansas coach Roy Williams's stint with the 1993 U.S. under-22 team didn't undo him because he had the good sense to bow out of the assignment after qualifying, when he realized the duties would push him past his limit.

Wilkens is lucky: There will be no qualifying tournament through which he'll have to guide his Olympic team (as the host, the U.S. gets an automatic berth in the draw), and coaching in Atlanta will be a lot easier than doing so in, say, Athens. But last week USA Basketball appointed Tara VanDerveer as the Olympic women's coach, in part because she agreed to take a sabbatical from Stanford. It's hard to believe that the challenge of coaching the men's team is any less formidable than that of coaching the women's. All of this is one more exhibit in the compelling case for establishing a position of permanent U.S. men's national coach.

Wanted: Dead or Alive
We're not sure exactly what it was, but Aaron Desmond, a 12-year-old from Minneapolis, surely demonstrated something when he recently sent autograph requests to 10 current and former baseball stars. One missive went to Roy Campanella, the Hall of Fame catcher who, unbeknownst to Aaron, died on June 26, 1993. Aaron received only one response to his 10 requests: a photo of Campanella, with an explanatory note from his widow, Roxie.

Expunsion Teams

There's a late-night parlor game that sports fans play in which one fan names a place and another comes up with the punniest possible nickname for a franchise based there. A team in Norman, Okla., for instance, would be called the Conquest; one in Augusta, Maine, would be the Wind. If you were commissioner of a loopy sports league, you would want to expand to Alaska, so you could add the Nome Chomskys and the Juneau Whats, while an International Division would include the Havana Good Times, the Kenya Believeits, the Crimea Rivers and the Nice Guys, who would always finish last.

One perennial favorite in this fanciful league—the Macon Whoopees—actually existed in the old Southern Hockey League for a few months before folding during the 1973-74 season. Last week came word that those icemen of euphemism may be back. On May 2 the Macon City Council is expected to approve the request of two businessmen, who are reviving the Whoopees, to play in that Georgia city's coliseum this fall as part of a reconstituted SHL. No word yet on whether Bob Eubanks will do play-by-play.

Nothing to Celebrate

Last Saturday was the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, but it also marked the 27th month that bipartisan malign neglect of pressing environmental issues has prevailed in Washington. As House Republicans invite industry lobbyists to rewrite environmental laws, the Clinton Administration has done little on behalf of the environment since leaving unfulfilled a campaign promise to shut down a toxic-waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio. And groups normally vigilant about environmental protection, perhaps lulled by the ecological bona fides of Vice President Al (Earth in the Balance) Gore, have largely let the Administration off the hook. When the White House supported a proposal to eliminate the Council on Environmental Quality in '93, only one environmentalist, Philip Hocker of the Mineral Policy Center, appeared before the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee to protest. "If the Reagan or Mush administration had proposed this, thousands of environmentalists would be outside protesting," said committee chairman Senator John Chafee (R., R.I.).

Continue Story
1 2 3