SON OF DENVER
When last we left the 1976 Winter Games, they had been dumped by Denver (SI, Nov. 20) and only a few cities remained as possible backup sites. Nobody ever really took North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe seriously and that narrowed the choice down to Salt Lake City, which has a swell setting, and Lake Placid, which gave the world Sonja Henie in 1932. Last week the U.S. Olympic Committee settled on Salt Lake City—and Olympics fans had best brace themselves for another international embarrassment.
The bid will now be trooped off to the International Olympic Committee meeting next month in Lausanne, with plenty of indication that the IOC has heard about enough from the colonies, bicentennial or not. For one thing, some rather fancy European bidding is taking shape, notably from Innsbruck and a French Mont Blanc bloc. But even that opposition, plus the reaction that the Denver affair was ineptly handled, is not the real point.
What the USOC has again missed, in its unerring instinct for picking the wrong spots, is that Salt Lake City's bid is based on the thesis that the funding would be entirely federal. In bidding, the city did not promise any local funds because officials were sure they could not get them. Lake Placid, meanwhile, has most of the facilities already set, enthusiastic community support and the formal backing of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who allowed that New York State would come up with some money to help out.
Further, where Denver failed to get the man-on-the-street reaction until it was too late, that has already been done in Utah: The Deseret News polled its readers in November and came up with a 12-to-1 sentiment against the Games. A telephone poll last week found qualified support for the Olympics, but already local conservationists are rallying, ready to throw themselves in front of the first Olympic bulldozer. And if all this doesn't throw an awful lot of cold snow on the U.S. selection, then somebody out there is just not paying attention.
TOWING THE LINE
That tabloid watchdog of the western waterways, American Boating, has produced the newest entry in the Let-Me-Make-One-Thing-Perfectly-Clear sweepstakes. In a roundup of boating news from hither and yon, it quotes a news release on safety procedures as follows: "Maneuvering towed skiers or persons on other towed devices so as to pass the towline to another vessel or another person being towed by another vessel is a prohibited act."
If your favorite football player did not make All-Something, don't fret too much. All-Teams tend to be souffl�s, lovely things whipped up from a little of this, a little of that and a lot of imagination. Consider Gale Gillingham, the Green Bay Packer lineman. He made honorable mention on the UPI's All-NFC offensive team, a signal accomplishment since Gillingham played in only the first two games of the season, both on defense. Then he injured his knee, underwent surgery and was out for the rest of the year. Chuck Lane, the amiable Packer publicity man, credits Gillingham's honor to brilliant public-relations work. When people scoff, Lane asks, "How many men on your injured reserve list made an All-Pro team?"
CBS SIGNS OFF
The sale of the New York Yankees to George Steinbrenner and his associates, among them Yankee President Mike Burke, is a welcome change in baseball's ownership structure. CBS, which took over the Yankees in 1964, showed commendable restraint during its ownership, assiduously keeping a show biz, TV-ratings atmosphere out of the Yankee picture. Nonetheless, it was a bad precedent that a television network, a major part of whose business is sports broadcasting, should own a team on whom it would inevitably have to report. Too, big as the Yankees were in baseball, they immediately became rather small fish in the vast CBS corporate pond, at best a relatively minor subsidiary of the parent corporation. That the Yankee fortunes declined with CBS taking over control is possibly a coincidence.
It is impossible to predict how Steinbrenner, Burke and Company will run the Yankees, but the fans, players and other members of baseball's brass now at least can hope for ownership they can focus on, a corporate personality instead of a wandering mote in the vast, vague, unblinking eye of the TV screen.