That's quite a tug-of-war going on over the Olympic torch relay that will precede the Summer Games in Los Angeles. On one side are certain Greek politicians and residents of the Greek village of Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympics and the home of the Olympic flame, who are offended that the L.A. Olympic Organizing Committee has invited businesses and individuals to pay $3,000 a kilometer to sponsor the carrying of the torch across the U.S. to Los Angeles. They argue that the flame belongs to the ages and shouldn't be commercialized. On the other side is the LAOOC, which points out that money raised would be donated to youth organizations and denies that its sponsorship scheme commercializes the flame. That view is supported by the International Olympic Committee, which has approved the L.A. plan. Asserting that it "owns" the Olympic flame and that the Greeks are only the flame's "guardians," the IOC has warned that if the Greeks don't back off, the traditional torch-lighting ceremony will be moved from Olympia to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
It's hard to sympathize with anybody in this overblown but surprisingly emotional dispute. Contrary to what the Greeks imply, the torch relay doesn't go back to antiquity but was introduced for the 1936 Olympics. To be sure, a flame was used as part of the religious rituals connected with the ancient Games, and present-day Greeks appear to be sincere when they refer to it with some reverence. On the other hand, that doesn't prevent them from engaging in a bit of commercialization themselves. They promote Olympia as a tourist destination, and once there, visitors are welcome to stay at, yes, the Olympic Flame Hotel. Besides, there are indications that anti-American elements in Greece may be fanning the torch issue for the distinct political purpose of embarrassing the U.S.
For all that, the Greek complaints put the LAOOC and IOC in an awkward position. Worthy though the beneficiaries of the LAOOC sponsorship program appear to be, the fact is that the selling of the relay is, by definition, commercialization. And whatever the legalities, the IOC comes off as somewhat nervy in loftily dismissing the inhabitants of Olympia—the only people on earth who are Olympians all their lives—as merely the "guardians" of the flame. The IOC is certainly free to hold a torch-lighting ceremony in Lausanne, but in that case we'd no longer be talking about the Olympic flame. We'd be talking about the Lausanne flame, which somehow doesn't have the same ring.
THE NBA'S PAC-10 PIPELINE
A No. 16 ranking for Oregon State is the best the Pac-10 can do in SI's Top 20 this week, indicating that this proud conference has, for the moment anyway, slipped as much in basketball as it has in football (SI, Nov. 21, 1983). For a reminder of how strong Pac-10 hoops has been, consider the research that Harvey Pollack, the Philadelphia 76ers' demon statistician, has done at SI's behest into the question of which colleges have the most alumni starting in the NBA. On the day that Pollack looked into the matter, the Pac-10 had 18 players in NBA starting lineups, while the ACC and Big Ten were tied for second with 15 each; the Southeastern Conference was a distant fourth with eight starters.
The school that had produced the most current NBA starters was UCLA with six ( Marques Johnson, Milwaukee; David Greenwood, Chicago; Mark Eaton, Utah; Kiki Vandeweghe, Denver; and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes, both Los Angeles), followed by North Carolina, Notre Dame and Indiana with four each. ( Maryland had six alums starting in the NBA at one point this season, but three of them were merely filling in for injured regulars.)
Besides UCLA, other Pac-10 schools with NBA starters were Oregon State and Arizona State (three each), Washington and USC (two each) and Washington State and Oregon (one each). Sixty-five different colleges in 32 states were represented in NBA starting lineups, with schools in California and Indiana leading the way with 11 starters each and those in North Carolina with 10. Twenty-one of the NBA's 115 starters were products of independents such as Notre Dame, DePaul and Marquette.
Aren't you glad you asked?
For 47 minutes last week a three-member Massachusetts Appeals Court panel listened to lawyers' arguments during the latest hearing in the battle for control of the Red Sox between a faction headed by Buddy LeRoux and another led by Jean Yawkey and Haywood Sullivan. Then, as the court prepared to adjourn, one of the judges, John Greaney, offered these parting words: "It may take into the baseball season before a decision is rendered, so I leave you with this thought. I urge all of the disputing parties in the meantime to at least get together to do something about the pitching."