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Despite a staggering assortment of hurdles and handicaps, the Montreal Olympics went off as scheduled; despite the absence of athletes from 25 nations, it was a spellbinding feast of extraordinary sporting performances.
Many of the problems exposed in Montreal remain to be overcome before 1980's Games in Moscow. We have—all of us—four long years to solve those problems. If we do not waste time in recriminations, there is no reason to fret that they cannot be solved. Let's get to work on them.
THE MAIN SQUEEZE
Bruce Jenner and Sugar Ray Leonard have yet to be counted, but O. J. Simpson is the current No. 1 national hero, if we are to believe the kids. And that generally is quite good procedure in things of this nature.
For its August issue, Ladies' Home Journal surveyed several hundred students in grades five through 12, presenting the youngsters with a checklist of people in all walks, talks and runs of life. Simpson was rated tops in hero qualities by both the boys and girls. He was way ahead of porno star Linda Lovelace, which may be construed as encouraging by sociologists concerned with trends. Or as proof that the kids' fathers didn't vote. Other sports figures in the first 10 were Chris Evert, sixth; Billie Jean King, eighth; Joe Namath, 10th. Ali was 15th and Abdul-Jabbar 32nd.
Demonstrating how big a star O.J. is, he has appeared in an advertisement that starts off, "If I played baseball I'd wear Spot-bilt spikes." Then, to build our confidence, he says, "And I almost did choose baseball over football." Since athletes have been known to endorse products they didn't privately swear by at all, this candor is perhaps refreshing.
But why would we go out and buy baseball shoes recommended by a football player? Hero worship, of course, a condition that often causes our hearts to overrule our heads. But not all heads, apparently. Sadly, one of the 12-year-olds surveyed by the Journal asked, "Who can have heroes? They're just like us."
PUNTERS AND PIGEONS
Promoters extolling the alleged wonders of the new 588-acre Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J.—which, among a variety of uses, will be the home of the New York Giants and site of frequent horse racing (starting Sept. 1 it becomes the metropolitan area's third harness-racing operation)—keep trying to convince dubious New Yorkers how close it really is to the Big Apple.