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Scorecard
June 01, 1998
The Sprewell Suit His Daze in Court
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June 01, 1998

Scorecard

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Recently we told you about the groundbreaking UCLA study in which, according to a school press release, scientists "crunched the numbers" to prove that hot goalies are a "key factor" in winning a Stanley Cup (SCORECARD, May 11). Now, from Illinois State, comes another cry of eureka! According to a university publicity release, Steve McCaw, a professor of health, physical education and recreation, has completed a study showing that in Stanley Cup play "hockey teams that score a lot of penalties...are often losers."

McCaw and his co-author, John Walker, a Dallas physician, reviewed Stanley Cup championship series from 1980 through '97 and determined that 13 times in those 18 years the team with the most penalties for violent play wound up losing the series. McCaw and Walker say that they hope their findings will "help to convince more coaches and players that excessive violence and bullying have no place in hockey." Science, alas, can do only so much.

South African Rugby
Reign of Error Ends

The sports world is a little better because Louis Luyt, who ruled South African rugby with an iron fist and an apartheid-era mentality, stepped down as president of the South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) on May 11. Defiant to the end, the 66-year-old Luyt (pronounced LATE) never admitted any wrongdoing and insisted he was done in by "spineless white people."

Despite the ascension of Nelson Mandela to the South African presidency in that nation's first all-race elections in 1994, rugby remains a predominantly white sport in South Africa. Luyt, a brash Afrikaner and a former rugby star who had made millions in the fertilizer business, was the primary reason for that. He made no secret of his apartheid beliefs and did nothing to open the sport to blacks. When Mandela appointed a commission last year to study allegations of racism and corruption in Luyt's administration, Luyt hauled Mandela into court, where in two days of testimony the president was pressed to justify the commission. Even some of Luyt's supporters found his treatment of Mandela high-handed, an opinion certainly held by the black-dominated National Sports Council (NSC), South Africa's sports watchdog.

Luyt, still believing he had majority support within rugby, refused to honor an NSC request to apologize to Mandela. However, after a majority of SARFU's executive members and provincial affiliates turned against him, Luyt left the meeting. As calls for his resignation came in ("Please go, for the sake of the game," pleaded star flanker Francois Pienaar, who captained the Springboks, South Africa's famed national team, to the 1995 World Cup championship), Luyt finally resigned. His action opened the way for tours of South Africa by teams from Ireland and Wales that had been jeopardized when the NSC, frustrated by Luyt's obstinacy and employing a powerful tactic from the antiapartheid era, called for a boycott of its country's own rugby team.

However, the sports world has probably not heard the last of Luyt, who is still president of the Golden Lions rugby union, the richest SARFU affiliate. "White people do not believe anymore that they can protect what is important to them," says Luyt. He claims that the "overwhelming majority of South African rugby players back me." If that's true, it's way past time for those players to step into the real world and leave this bigot back in the shadows.

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