Rugby and Sex
Tournament Scoring's Up
A highly charged atmosphere surrounds the Five Nations rugby tournament, an annual series of matches among teams from England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. National pride is at stake, and passion runs high. And in Ireland, at least, it's not just sporting passion.
The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) recently completed a study showing that sexual activity on the Emerald Isle reaches a peak on the nights of Five Nations matches. The IFPA determined this by analyzing the demand for the morning-after contraceptive pill, which reached record levels on the mornings after games. "The whole town will get wrapped up in the game," says IFPA chief executive Tony O'Brien. "Drink runs freely, and even married couples get carried away." O'Brien also says that through a game-by-game comparison of contraceptive sales, the association was able to determine which opponent most raised Irish, er, enthusiasm. The answer, perhaps not surprisingly: France.
The Mess at Fresno State
A Presidential Abdication
In the three years that Jerry Tarkanian has coached basketball at Fresno State, the school's president, John Welty, has been for the most part the model of accommodation for Tark's give-'em-another-chance-and-then-maybe-another-one philosophy (SI, Feb. 9). As Tarkanian peopled his roster with criminals and drug abusers, Welty stood behind him and on March 9 even extended his $95,000-a-year contract through next season with options to renew through 2000-01. After a March 15 segment on 60 Minutes about the Bulldogs' basketball program that was mostly negative—Welty appeared briefly on the program and spoke about his being a member of the Society for Values in Higher Education—Welty joined Tark in criticizing the report.
After another ugly incident on March 17—Bulldogs starter Avondre Jones, a senior center, and transfer Kenny Brunner, a freshman guard, were arrested after allegedly robbing an acquaintance and assaulting him with a gun and two samurai swords—Welty suddenly developed a sense of outrage. (As of Monday the players had not been charged.) "With each shameful incident, the institutional damage is compounded," he said. "My patience and the patience of others throughout this university are at an end." Still, Welty wasn't that outraged. He accepted the Tark-imposed penalties: Tarkanian dismissed Jones, whose eligibility will be up this week anyway, but only "indefinitely suspended" Brunner, who has 2½ years of eligibility remaining. And he did not pull Fresno State from the NIT, in which it was scheduled to play Minnesota in the semifinals on Tuesday night. That would've been a real statement.
Swifter, Stronger, Higher
In Sydney these days it seems everyone is pushing the Olympic spirit, including the pushers. Fifty-four tabs of LSD confiscated recently by authorities Down Under bore the logo of the 2000 Games.
More Bull From Billy
Billy Packer opened his mouth last week for a reason other than to describe a basketball play, a sure sign that nonsense would follow. He didn't disappoint. As Edward R. Murrow took another full spin in the grave, Packer, CBS's lead college basketball commentator, called time out from his relentless praising of college coaches to criticize his own network's 60 Minutes for the aforementioned report on Fresno State. Packer told the Los Angeles Times that 60 Minutes was "a cancer in our organization." The next day Packer followed up by telling The Washington Post that the Fresno segment was "sleazy, short-sighted, lazy journalism. If you want to call it journalism."
Well, let's see. During his 25-year career in journalism—if you want to call it journalism-college basketball's head cheerleader has admitted to being "a walking conflict of interest" based on his involvement in numerous business deals with the coaches and sports executives he covers. In response to a series of stories in the Lexington Herald-Leader that won a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering myriad abuses in the Kentucky basketball program during the 1980s, Packer called for Kentuckians to boycott the paper and said that it had done "a major disservice to the university, the kids who play for him, and [then coach] Eddie Sutton."