What, No Sidney Green?
When journeyman center Danny Schayes of the Orlando Magic stepped ably in for injured teammate Rony Seikaly last month during an NBA playoff series against the Miami Heat, the reverberations rippled out over the Internet. A Web site, Famous Jews—Interactive! (http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~jsu/cgi-bin/famous-jews.html), invites people to cast votes for Judaism's greatest sports figures. Pitcher Sandy Koufax ranks first, followed by former Connecticut basketball guard Doron Sheffer, swimmer Mark Spitz, catcher Moe Berg and Olympic sprinter turned sportscaster Marty Glickman. After his showing Danny jumped from No. 73 to No. 23.
But to put to rest that famous line from Airplane!—a flight attendant, asked for some light reading, responds, "How about this leaflet, Famous Jewish Sports Legends?"—we advise the site keepers to vet the list. In the current rankings the sixth and ninth greatest Jewish sports figures of all time are, respectively, Christians Bill Parcells and Ryne Sandberg.
It used to be that college football recruiting was conducted almost entirely in the five months between the start of a prospect's senior season and the February signing date. That timetable, however, has changed in the last five years. Now many of the most sought after players orally commit before their senior year begins. "By the end of this summer," says Dick Baird, recruiting coordinator at Washington, "I'll bet there are 250 kids already committed to major schools."
Division I coaches agree that Penn State's Joe Paterno hatched this trend in the early '90s. He realized that videotape on juniors was as readily available as it was on seniors. "I said to the staff, 'Let's do a better job of evaluating kids quicker, make up our minds and see if they want to make a commitment,' " Paterno recalls. "The first year we did it, we got eight or nine; I was amazed." Last year Penn State received commitments from 13 of its 21 eventual signees before school opened in September.
Because NCAA rules forbid a high school recruit from making an official campus visit or meeting with a college coach before his senior year, some offers are tendered without the coach and player having met. One way around that problem is for players to pay to attend summer camps hosted by various colleges and permitted by the NCAA. Camps have become a vital tool for colleges to use in evaluating prospects and a means for athletes to meet the school's coaching staff. "We see them in our camp, and we're able to offer [a scholarship] sooner—everything is speeded up," says Tim Cassidy, Texas A&M's director of football operations. Notre Dame rookie head coach Bob Davie has made it a priority to bring more prospects to the Irish's summer camp.
Given the trend, the NCAA membership would do well to create an early-signing period for football, like the one it has for basketball, which insulates a signed player from further recruitment during his season. "Early commitments are good for the schools, and they're good for the players," says Paterno. "They let the kids enjoy their senior year."
More than 200 participants are expected to turn out this Sunday for the first Wreck Beach Bare Buns Fun Run in Vancouver. The 7-km race—which bills itself as the only nude-running event in North America to be held on public land—will take place along the beachfront of Pacific Spirit Regional Park during the lowest tide of the year. Participants will receive a T-shirt.
At Home at Last