An extraordinary decision was made almost unnoticed last week. The leadership of the FIS, the international body that controls competitive skiing, approved a kind of open skiing. With the permission of their national federations, future Alpine and Nordic racers can make the most of their victories—they can accept money for advertising skis, helmets, gloves, poles, parkas and the other tools of their trade. They can be paid for press and TV exclusives. However, the racers are still forbidden to accept appearance money for participating in an event or to ski for cash prizes.
"Our decision is evolutionary, not revolutionary," FIS President Marc Hodler said. "We have accepted the fact that ski racers are now full-time sportsmen who simply have no time left over for earning extra money. They must be reimbursed for their loss of income."
As the FIS conceives it, there will be two types of competitors—one the "authorized pro," and the other the true amateur who accepts no money at all. The FIS council's decision, which must be approved by a vote of the organization's member nations, could have a distressing effect on the Winter Olympics by downgrading the quality of Olympic performances, for any skier who accepts the payments now okayed will not be eligible to compete in the Games. It superficially appears that most countries will find themselves with second-rate Olympic teams. However, it may turn out that the very best European skiers will forgo the relatively small payments they might receive as authorized pros on the chance that they could win an Olympic gold medal and parlay it into a financial bonanza.
EATING IT UP
When the Little League season began in northern Colorado a month ago Doug Leigh, a restaurant owner in Fort Collins, offered a free dinner—hamburger, Pepsi and French fries—to any boy in the 82-team league who hit a homer. Last season the teams averaged about 40 home runs for the season, which would have meant 3,280 free meals. But this year, savoring the taste of success, the Little Leaguers have gone on a home-run binge. One boy hit five in one game. And when the Wolves beat the Foxes 77-18 in a five-inning game in Fort Collins last week, 44 of the 96 hits were home runs.
Doug Leigh now has a big-league business. "When a boy comes to get his free dinner," Leigh explains, "he naturally brings his parents along, and they buy theirs."
POSTAGE STAMP OF APPROVAL
Later this month the 1968 All-America college golf team will be announced—selected, it will be said, by the nation's golf writers. Actually the team was picked two weeks ago by golf coaches representing the eight NCAA districts. The so-called All-America vote by the writers is a put-on.
The team the coaches picked is: Hal Underwood, Houston; Steve Melnyk, Florida; Ben Kern, New Mexico State; Grier Jones, Oklahoma State; Jack Lewis, Wake Forest; Allen Miller, Georgia: Mike Morley, Arizona State; and Kemp Richardson, USC.