WHISTLE BATTLE ROYAL
A low point in international sport was reached earlier this month during a basketball game in Los Angeles between the Soviet Junior National Team and the California High School All-Americans. The American kids won 74-72 when Rich Branning hit a 20-footer at the buzzer, but the competition between the teams was no more intense than that between the officials. The final score: the Soviet Union's Yuri Girgorev called 35 fouls or violations against the Americans, only five against the Soviets; America's Booker Turner called 31 against the Russians, only 10 against the Americans.
Turner said after the game that he was forced to be biased because of what Girgorev was doing. "He wasn't calling them fair," Turner said, "and I had to counter, even though I didn't want to. It took me a little while into the game to see what he was doing. I couldn't let him foul out all our kids. I had to protect them."
The crowd of 4,349 in the Los Angeles Forum booed whenever Girgorev made a call against the U.S. and cheered when Turner whistled down the Soviets. On one play, according to reporters covering the game, an American player went in for a layup and was obviously fouled by a Russian defender. Girgorev blew his whistle and the press-box reaction was, "Oh, oh, the Russian finally got a Russian." Wrong. The call was charging on the American. On Branning's game-winner, most of the writers felt that a U.S. player had controlled the ball on the rim. Girgorev was underneath and could not see the basket. Turner had a clear view but did not blow his whistle.
Hue Hollins, an American official who had worked another game in the Soviet-U.S. series the day before, which the U.S. won 76-71, said Girgorev had been one-sided there, too. "Hue told me what to expect," said Turner, "but I still wasn't ready for it. I couldn't communicate with Girgorev because he can't speak English. I hate to work this type of game. I really believe it would be more fair to have two American officials work a game like this."
People who went to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby and to Baltimore for the Preakness noted a marked difference between the two cities beyond the quality of restaurant food ( Baltimore wins by several lengths) and the names of the horses that won the big races. Visitors to Louisville on Derby weekend found that a hotel that normally charges $30.50 for a room had upped its rates to roughly $78 a night for a three-night minimum. In Baltimore hotel rates (example: $35 for a double room) stayed the same.
While muted bleats about Olympic ups and downs continue from Montreal, another suggestion on how to reform the Games has surfaced, this one emanating from Buck Dawson of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Dawson asks, "After Moscow, what?" and declares that the International Olympic Committee should take inspiration from the five rings of the Olympic symbol and split the Games into five parts. Others have proposed that the top-heavy Olympic carnival be spread around among different cities (SCORECARD, March 29) in order to ease the awesome burden of expense, but Dawson suggests a more formal division—into Winter, Aquatic, Team, Individual and Cultural Olympics, each to be staged in a different place at a different time of the year.
The Winter Games are already a separate entity, Dawson argues, and the Cultural Olympics have been going on for decades, although they are usually overlooked by press and public alike. Aquatic sports, obviously Dawson's pet, would include swimming, diving, rowing, canoeing, yachting and water polo. Team Olympics would have soccer, basketball and so on, with track and field, gymnastics and the rest in the Individual Olympics.
Dawson's basic idea (divide and survive) might be more palatable if the non-wet sports were not distributed so unevenly (five team, 12 individual). Suppose, instead, they were split into indoor and outdoor categories? The Indoor Olympics would have gymnastics, basketball, boxing, fencing, judo, volleyball, weight lifting, team handball and wrestling, sports that could be run off in any likely city at any convenient period. The Outdoor Olympics, requiring more attention to time and place, would have track and field, cycling, equestrian events, modern pentathlon, shooting, archery, soccer, field hockey.