At the Tone, Start Diving
One wonders if the women's swimming record book at UC Santa Cruz will carry an asterisk from now on. The Banana Slugs last week lost their first Division III meet since 1992...and their opponent never had to look them in the eye. In a successful money-saving stroke, Santa Cruz and Emory University competed via fax, swimming in their respective home pools and then transmitting the results simultaneously. "There were no fans watching," said Andrew Pulsifer, the Emory assistant coach who concocted the fax plan, "but it was exciting. I got giddy watching the results come over the line."
The Santa Cruz men's team earned an easy and expected victory, but Emory's win in the women's meet was a bit of an upset—in Division III preseason polls, Santa Cruz's women were ranked eighth and Emory's 10th. Now, however, there's no disputing that Emory has the better team. On paper, that is.
Non Is Pro Sports' Oui
Canada last week preserved its tattered soul and, in the process, saved the economic bacon for its pro sports franchises when 50.6% of voters in the primarily French-speaking province of Quebec rejected sovereignty. A oui vote in the referendum might have created a new hockey power—a national team with Mario Lemieux, Raymond Bourque and Martin Brodeur could have been medalists in the 1998 Olympics—but it would have undermined professional sports throughout Canada.
Had the separatists won, financial analysts agree, the Canadian dollar, trading at .766 of the U.S. buck on Monday, would have become the currency equivalent of the New Jersey Nets. For the Montreal Expos, the Toronto Blue Jays and the NBA's Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies—all teams whose revenue is primarily in Canadian dollars but whose payrolls are in U.S. dollars—the cost would have been substantial.
Consider the Expos, who last year had to purchase $20 million U.S. to cover their payroll and other expenses. Additional millions lost in exchange if the Canadian dollar plummeted might have forced major league baseball's favorite farm club to trade off even more of its star talent.
The seven NHL teams in Canada, which pay only a few of their players in U.S. greenbacks, would have lost less on this exchange but almost as much in the long run. Canada's game already is drifting south (SI, March 20), what with the Quebec Nordiques' having moved to Colorado and the Jets set to depart Winnipeg after this season. A fragile economy and a featherweight currency, which would have resulted from the breakup of the 128-year-old Canadian confederation, would have hastened the migration of free agents to the States and put Canadian teams at even more of a competitive disadvantage. Vote oui and flee.
The political climate in the Great White North, however, remains tense, the future muddled. Charged comments by Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau (he said "money and the ethnic vote" had deprived French Quebecers of their country, then resigned the next day) helped further rile the embittered sovereigntists, who lost a 60%-40% vote in a 1980 referendum. They've promised another plebiscite on independence. The Canadian sports establishment, not to mention 20 million Canadians outside Quebec, may have given a relieved sigh when the razor-thin non victory was announced. But they have little to cheer.
They're Deaf; He's Just Dumb