According to the Kansas City police department, violent offenses, nonaggravated assaults and offenses against property each declined by one third to two thirds among juveniles in 1994, the fifth year of Mayor's Night Hoops, which is open to boys and girls ages 10 to 21. Given that the cost of incarcerating a single juvenile offender runs to nearly $30,000 per year, the $100,000 annual cost of the program, in which 1,200 youngsters participate, would appear to more than justify itself. Yet Cleaver finds himself only half kiddingly urging his constituents to park illegally and pay their fines, so the city's coffers might fill up and Night Hoops continue. "The thing I'm most proud of is that we haven't had one incidence of violent behavior at any of the Night Hoops games," says the mayor, who believes the program could reach even more youth nationwide with the additional muscle of federal dollars. "And that's with rival gang members facing off in competition at times."
Were there any players in the tournament who owed their lives to midnight basketball? "Here," said Nate Wilkins, director of the K.C. program. "Let me introduce you to about a hundred."
Is it too late to cobble a maplewood floorboard back into that G.O.P. platform?
Ramble on, Rose
Few horseplayers had the charm and grace of Rose Hamburger, the 105-year-old nag queen who spent the last seven months handicapping races for the New York Post (SCORECARD, March 25). When Gamblin' Rose, as the paper billed her, died Aug. 6 after a brief bout with pneumonia, the news sparked a flood of calls to the Post, many from hard-boiled racing readers who lamented the loss of Hamburger's savvy. Indeed, with eight decades of horse-betting experience, Hamburger was a reliable source. And she held form to the end: Her final pick, Capote Bell in the eighth race at Saratoga on July 27, came home a winner.
Gwenn Perkins, a fly-fishing instructor for the Orvis School in Manchester, Vt., had been teaching women-only classes for four years when a call last winter from two prospective students brought a new dimension to her work. The women were breast cancer survivors whose surgeon, believing that the casting motion can improve a patient's arm and shoulder mobility following a mastectomy, had recommended fly-fishing. Eager to provide a supportive atmosphere, Perkins developed Casting for Recovery, a two-day program first held in May on a stream in Millbrook, N.Y., and attended by six women. The class was successful enough that two more courses are scheduled for this year.
For patients who spend long, often harrowing hours in hospitals and treatment centers, getting away for a while to wade in a cool, clear stream has proved invaluable. And not only is the casting motion therapeutic and the communing with nature exhilarating, but also the camaraderie of the class is a source of comfort. "You play together, you learn together," says Casting for Recovery alumna Matson Sewell of Hanover, N.H., who underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery six years ago. "Since my diagnosis nothing has been as hope-building."
Serving Tennis Wrong
It would be easy for Americans to look back contentedly at the Olympic tennis competition, inasmuch as the U.S. won gold in three of the four events. But some Americans, including women's singles champion Lindsay Davenport, found the experience unsatisfying, and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which oversees the Olympic tournament, should heed their grousing. "This is so bogus," says Davenport of a format featuring the usual looking-out-for-number-one, single-elimination slog characteristic of the rest of the tennis calendar. "We do everything as a team, eat together and room together, and then we go off and play separate matches."
Olympic tennis sorely needs a team element to distinguish it from ordinary tour stops, but the ITF can hardly be counted on to come up with a fresh format for the Sydney Games in 2000. The sport's international governing body can't even work out enough of a truce in its feud with the ATP to keep the men's tour from holding tournaments during the Olympic fortnight.