There were repeated accusations of biased officiating. A basketball coach not named Bob Knight (Pedro Espinoza of Venezuela) threw a chair onto the court in frustration over refs' calls. A team handball player from Cuba, furious over the officiating in his team's overtime loss to the U.S., started swinging at a referee.
In short, these Games had the tension and ill will endemic to Pan Am competition. Indianapolis and its 37,000 volunteers were as hospitable as could be imagined, yet their best intentions couldn't overcome the harsh realities of international politics. The fact is, a lot of people in Central and South America don't like the U.S. Even though the Americans were beaten in boxing, baseball and basketball, their staggering haul of medals underscored the overwhelming athletic imbalance among nations in the Western Hemisphere.
This has raised the question in some quarters of whether the U.S. should continue to participate in these games. Many people see no merit in sending an American team to a competition that is viewed by many U.S. athletes as little more than a warmup for the Olympics or various world championships. Yet with the 1991 Games scheduled to be held in Cuba, an American pullout at this time would be unsporting if not, in view of the strains in U.S.- Cuba relations, impolitic.
At Sunday night's closing ceremony, when the flag of Cuba was raised in the Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis was more than happy to pass the torch of this troubled event.