After a similar incident in Sheffield, England, in 1989, in which 95 died, FIFA, soccer's international governing body, drew up a list of security measures that host stadiums were expected to employ for World Cup qualifying matches. But it has been unable to enforce such standards. Says FIFA secretary general Sepp Blatter: "It must be the local authority that controls security." And since that local authority is often missing in places racked by poverty and political unrest, tragic soccer incidents have occurred in places like Lima (320 killed in 1964), Tripoli, Libya (20 dead in '87) and Lusaka, Zambia (nine dead last June). Guatemala certainly fits the profile of a nation spinning nearly out of control. Sharply divided along class and racial lines, it is emerging from a 36-year civil war. People carry arms in teeming city streets where outward aggression, ranging from a near total absence of civility to frequent gunplay, is part of daily life. Guatemalans are so impoverished that, after the soccer deaths, coffin vendors stood outside the municipal morgue shouting out prices.
Predictably last week's victims, mainly peasants, were crushed in the stadium's cheapest section. "This game is so much involved in society," says FIFA's Blatter. "We have to have the courage to identify our responsibility to avoid these tragedies."
Jack Tatum's helmet-on-helmet hit that rendered New England Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley a paraplegic in 1978, along with the subsequent and ongoing feud resulting from that horrific incident, remains one of the saddest chapters in NFL history. The two men were scheduled to meet—for the first time since the collision—in Stingley's Chicago apartment on Tuesday for a segment that was to be taped by Fox Sports for its pregame NFL broadcast this Sunday. Stingley had hoped to use the exposure to promote the Darryl Stingley Foundation, which aids Chicago teenagers.
But Stingley canceled when he learned that Tatum's push for a meeting coincided with the publication of Final Confessions of NFL Assassin Jack Tatum, the third rehash of Tatum's cheap-shotting career with the Oakland Raiders. "I was crushed," Stingley told The Boston Globe. "Here I was trying to find all the good that would come out of this, and now it's just another negative."
For Tatum, who is Hogging his latest Assassin book, the flap over the television appearance is a positive. He was scheduled to appear on HBO's Inside the NFL on Thursday to again push for a meeting with Stingley...as well as to push the book. Tatum says he has tried to arrange previous reconciliatory meetings with Stingley, an assertion that Stingley denies. But at any rate, the timing of this meeting, combined with the fact that, according to a Fox spokesman, Tatum's representative did not mention the book when arranging the meeting, made this recent "reconciliation" attempt egregious.
Egregious is also a good word to describe some of the prose in Final Confessions. In a passage mocking Deion Sanders and what Tatum perceives as the Dallas Cowboys star's nonphysical style, Tatum writes, "If Deion was playing in my position on Aug. 12, 1978, Darryl Stingley wouldn't be confined to a wheelchair. I was paid to hit, and the harder, the better." The better? Not for everyone.
A Kick and a Miss
Seventeen-year-old Tracy Austin isn't just your normal student-body president, straight-A student, accomplished pianist, soccer player, track and field athlete and placekicker on the varsity football team. Tracy, a senior at Palmetto High in Williamston, S.C., also happens to be the state's reigning Junior Miss, an honor given for both academics and talent (she played Beethoven's Für Elise at the pageant). "When I'm on the field, it's the same kind of excitement as when I'm at a pageant," she says. "I think football makes me more nervous. With kicking, it comes down to me, and I don't want to let anybody down."
She hasn't. Tracy, who's 5'6" and 125 pounds, has made all but three of her extra points in the past three years, including 16 of 17 this season. That's not bad for someone who had no interest in football until she tried out for the Palmetto High Mustangs as a sophomore, at the request of the coach, who had seen her kicking field goals for fun during a break at a track practice. "I'd only been to two high school games," Tracy says, "and I went to one of them because I wanted to see a boy I had a crush on." But placekicking came naturally to Tracy, a club soccer player for 10 years.