In a letter received the other morning by AAU executive director Ollan Cassell, lawyers for Asdic-Arena Co., U.S. distributor of Arena swimwear, accused the sports body of sanctioning the "violation of antitrust principles." No manufacturer had the right to "attempt to force its product onto the amateur," the letter asserted, adding that amateur athletes should enjoy "freedom to select the equipment with which they compete."
What was upsetting Arena was the AAU's selection of rival Speedo—in return for $5,000 a year—to continue providing the official swimsuit for U.S. teams. Australia-based Speedo has long been the No. 1 outfitter in big-time swimming, the latest evidence coming at this year's NCAA championships, where 70 of the 74 finalists wore the suits. Largely responsible for these numbers is Bill Lee, Speedo's resourceful general manager for North America, who tirelessly woos swim coaches, 34 of whom serve on the company's advisory board, and passes out free swimwear to the sport's top performers.
Despite Lee's efforts, Arena has recently been giving Speedo a run for it. The Adidas subsidiary has signed Mark Spitz and Shane Gould for endorsements and has been making a mighty splash in Europe. It paid the organizers for permission to put the world championship symbol on its suits next month at Cali, Colombia, and it bought the right to outfit the U.S. divers and the water polo and synchronized swimming teams.
The fact that some U.S. competitors at Cali will be clad in Speedo and others in Arena is just one of many anomalies. Another is that many of the coaches on Speedo's advisory board (plus a few signed up by Arena) sit on the very AAU committees that select U.S. team uniforms. But Asdic-Arena's claim that somebody is forcing swimwear on U.S. athletes is not quite right. The AAU naturally wants its teams dressed in a uniform that is uniform, but Aquatics Administrator Lynn Jamison says, "If a swimmer insists on wearing another suit, there's nothing to stop him." Indeed, at the 1974 U.S.- East Germany meet, Shirley Babashoff competed in a Ribbolastic suit while the rest of the team wore official red, white and blue Speedos.
But then, the Arena folks probably knew that all along.
WIN, PLACE AND WHOA
She may not have been fastest in the field, but Dual Purpose has a lot of heart, as they say in racing. Minutes after the 3-year-old filly had finished 10th in a 12-horse race at California's Golden Gate Fields, she hobbled wearily back to her stall and delivered a foal. Trainer Jann Batchelor gave her a look of utter surprise. "There definitely was no sign that the horse was pregnant," he said. One would like to think that Dual Purpose gave him a look of utter reproach.
THE FAN DANCER
It makes one feel warm all over to note Philadelphia's civic pride in its Stanley Cup champions, an emotion that sweeps right to the marquee of the Troc burlesque house. One of the strippers is now billed as Phyllis Flire.
ARNIE'S BLIGHTY ARMY
The Ryder Cup, that bi-annual golfing competition between pros from Great Britain and the U.S., will be staged this September in Ligonier, Pa., not far from Arnold Palmer's front porch. This is fitting, since Palmer is captain of the U.S. team. But here come the ironies. First, it appears that Palmer will be a nonplaying captain because he has not accumulated enough Ryder points, i.e., played well enough to be one of the 12 pros chosen. Which brings us to the fact that Palmer recently trekked to Europe for the Spanish Open and the British PGA Championship, both of which he won. Thus he not only became the leading money-winner on the European circuit, but picked up enough Ryder Cup points—British version—to head Great Britain's team. Naturally, Palmer cannot play for Great Britain, nor can his British points be added to the points he earned in this country. Which leaves us with one consolation: it should at least be psychologically upsetting to the British to know that their best player is captain of the U.S. team.
THEY CALL HIM MR. 400