Up in the Sky—It's Supercross
What's loud, proud, dyed and tattooed and three stories off the ground? None other than Jeremy (Showtime) McGrath, the 27-year-old superman of supercross. "I'm a fairly normal guy," says McGrath, but you wouldn't know it by the way 37,512 fans stood and yelled for 3� hours last Saturday night in Las Vegas while watching him fly his $100,000 dirt bike to his sixth national title in seven years.
Supercross is the top level of motocross, a sport in which dirt-track riders bump handlebars, scrape paint jobs and take jumps that send them skying as high as 30 feet while doing crowd-pleasing midair tricks like kick-outs and look-ma-no-hands waves. Top riders can pull down $1 million a year in prize money and endorsements. McGrath, whose dominance has kick-started a motocross boom and led an industry magazine to call him "the messiah," earned more than $2 million in 1998.
It took 600 truckloads of dirt to build the roller-coaster course McGrath and 75 others rode in Las Vegas's Sam Boyd Stadium, where the usual youthful crowd turned out to cheer what the PA announcer kept calling "the original extreme sport." McGrath dominated as usual, flying his 250-cc Yamaha into the desert sky, landing with the precision of a jeweler, finishing the 20-lap race 20 seconds ahead of everyone else.
After picking up a $7,000 first-place check, McGrath said, "I'm here because I like to win and because this is a great show. Over the years motocross has been more of a Hell's Angels thing, but our image is improving." Some champs in other sports "are too cool for school," he said, "and they end up alienating people." That's not likely to happen to the flashy former supermarket bag boy who isn't his sport's Jordan or its Rodman, but a little of both. "I'm normal," he said, "but I like to show off, too. As long as you keep winning, you can do what you want."
Don't Pitch 'Em High Cheese
While two Harvard scientists finish up baseball's study of androstenedione, Mark McGwire's favorite muscle-builder, major league officials might want to review some less rigorous research. In March three sixth-grade girls at Hadley (Mass.) Elementary fed andro to mice as a science fair project.
The girls bought eight male mice, eight female mice and some andro. Using an eyedropper, they gave four males a drop a day, and after a week placed the subjects in a cage with four females. Result: While two females that mated with control-group males produced babies, none of the andro-supplemented mice sired young. Males given andro also became visibly agitated after sucking it down. "They would sit in the corner and shake, and then start running around in circles," says Emmy Smith, 11.
The experiment won the girls first place in the fair, and now Emmy says she'd like to meet McGwire. "I'd ask him if he knows what he's doing," she says.
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