If Olympic security forces become overwhelmed in Atlanta, they might consider enlisting the help of Peter Westbrook, the U.S. sabre fencer who will be competing in his sixth Olympics. "I wanted to be Zorro all my life," Westbrook said recently, referring to the swashbuckling, sword-wielding hero of film and television. "I went to a Catholic school, and I used to think about swinging on the chandeliers, saving the nuns and stuff like that. I used to dress every Halloween as Zorro."
There has been no word on whether Westbrook plans to wear a cape in the competition.
Too Soon for a Parade
There is no doubt that Hampton, Va., needed to move beyond the ugly 1993 racial incident that tore it apart and transported Bethel High School basketball star Allen Iverson from the sports page to the front page. Slowly but surely the town was getting past the eruption of chair throwing and brawling at the Circle Lanes Bowling Alley on Feb. 13 of that year, and the principals were getting on with their lives. That's why Mayor James L. Eason's decision to declare last Saturday Allen Iverson Day, and honor Iverson with a parade, was the wrong one. It revived racial tensions and underscored the all-too-familiar theme that athletes receive preferential treatment.
Iverson delighted the basketball world in two dazzling seasons at Georgetown, and the Philadelphia 76ers made him the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft last month. But honoring a 21-year-old because he's going to sign a multimillion-dollar contract is dubious at best and, considering the circumstances in this case, sends the wrong message to kids. Iverson may have been, as his supporters contend, the victim of a justice system that was anything but color-blind in assessing his role in the near riot at Circle Lanes. Indeed, then governor L. Douglas Wilder granted Iverson clemency after he had served four months of a five-year prison sentence for maiming by mob, and an appeals court later overturned the conviction for insufficient evidence. But the fact remains that he was at the center of a violent and divisive episode that didn't need resurrecting.
Fortunately, no incidents marred Iverson Day. A lone protester, Sandra Radford, stood in the parking lot of Hampton Coliseum—where the parade ended and where Iverson and his family received a standing ovation—holding a sign that read MILLIONS DON'T MAKE A HERO, MORALS DO. "I think sports makes false heroes," said Radford. "I'm glad he's turning his life around and glad for the breaks he's gotten. But I think we're too quick to make a hero out of him."
A Ref Runs Roughshod
Tristam Coffin is a schoolboy, a soccer player and a practicing Sikh. And because of his religious faith, Tristam, 12, keeps his head covered whenever he goes out in public, be it to the classroom or to his midfielder's position for the Franklin (Mass.) Cosmos. He wears a blue bandanna when he's on the pitch, and although headwear is generally prohibited by youth soccer leagues, no one had objected in the three years Tristam has played for the Cosmos or in the first four games of this year's Easton (Mass.) Classic.
But in the championship game on July 1, someone did object. Ron Quintiliani, officiating the final between Franklin and Dudley, told Cosmos coach John Peters that Tristam would have to remove the bandanna if he wanted to play. The coach explained the circumstances, but unlike every other official who had initially questioned Peters, Quintiliani wouldn't budge. Peters then sent Tristam, bandanna-clad, to his usual spot among the starting 11. In front of about 100 spectators Quintiliani ordered Tristam to the sideline. Tristam went, in tears. Peters pulled the rest of the team off the field. Quintiliani dropped the ball to signal the start of play, and after two Dudley players touched the ball—the second intentionally booting it out-of-bounds under the direction of Dudley coach Chet Dawidczyk—the referee declared Dudley the victor by forfeit.
Quintiliani was backed by Terry Powers, a tournament director, who told Peters the bandanna needed to be removed as a safety measure because an opponent "could grab it and pull [Tristam's] head." That's a preposterous contention considering that the boy also has a ponytail that hangs down his back. "Tristam was pretty shaken," says Peters. "I took the players aside and told them that some things are more important than soccer, that you have to stand up for things you believe in."