Miami has no major league baseball team nor any immediate prospects for obtaining one, but there's nothing to prevent its citizens from claiming a "step-team." So says
The Miami Herald
, which is holding an election among its readers to choose one of the existing 26 major league franchises as the city's home team by proxy. "The Herald wants a team for South Florida," the newspaper said last week in announcing the contest. "Of course, we can't kidnap one. So, let's do the next-best thing—let's adopt a team."
The Herald pledges to cover the winning team almost as if it were Miami-based—with "extra stories, weekly statistics, more in-depth coverage." The balloting will end March 24, with the winner to be announced just before Opening Day. Sports Editor Edwin Pope predicts that the Yankees, Mets, Phillies. Red Sox and Cubs will be the leading vote-getters, a morning line presumably attributable to the large numbers of Miamians who hail from New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago. Pope expresses the hope that the adoption of a team may somehow hasten the day when "a real franchise" settles in Miami, which is the spring-training headquarters of the Baltimore Orioles but has only the Class A Miami Orioles to call its own during the regular season. In the meantime, the Herald suggests that the winner of its "adopt-a-team" poll had better be just that—a winner. It explains: "We will have the only team with an affiliation on a standby basis—if our adopted team louses up, we'll turn it back to the adoption agency."
At its meeting last week in Los Angeles, the International Olympic Committee's executive board added the women's marathon to the program of events for the 1984 Games in L.A. Along with an IOC decision last summer to introduce a women's 3,000-meter run in '84, approval of the marathon, which will be run separately from the men's marathon but over the same course, represents a dramatic departure for the Olympics, which previously had no women's event longer than 1,500 meters.
The decision also amounted to eloquent acknowledgment of the boom in women's marathoning, an activity that was practically nonexistent a decade ago. Since then, 273 women aged 14 to 48 and hailing from 25 countries have run marathons in 2:55 or better. In recent years the world record for the event has dropped precipitously to 2:25:42, set by Grete Waitz of Norway in last year's New York Marathon, a time that would have won every Olympic men's marathon through 1948. At last summer's Avon International Marathon in London, one of two dozen women's distance races annually sponsored by Avon Products Inc., there were 232 entrants hailing from 27 countries and five continents. Those aren't mere statistics; IOC rules require that before a women's event can be included in the Summer Olympics, it must be regularly contested by athletes in at least 25 nations and on two continents.
For all that, the idea of a women's Olympic marathon was resisted by sports authorities in Eastern European countries, who stubbornly cling to the argument, now discredited almost everywhere else, that women are physiologically unsuited for distance running. But the real reason for the Eastern Europeans' opposition may be their fear that because of their traditional neglect of non-Olympic sports, it will take a while before they're able to challenge the U.S. and other Western countries in women's distance events. Significantly, the IOC executive board approved a women's marathon by a vote of 7-1, the lone dissenter being the Soviet Union's Vitaly Smirnov. Though not a member of the board, Arpad Csanadi of Hungary, president of the IOC's program commission, tried to persuade its members that the women's marathon was essentially an American event and was practically unknown in Europe. IOC Executive Director Monique Berlioux of France reminded Csanadi that the world-record holder is Norwegian, adding facetiously that to the best of her knowledge, Norway is a European country.
Among those who lobbied most effectively for last week's action was Kathrine Switzer, who in 1967 caused a sensation by running in the Boston Marathon, then a men-only event, despite efforts by a race official, Jock Semple, to shoo her off the course. Now the director of the Avon International Running Circuit, Switzer said she hoped that the women's marathon at the '84 Olympics will be scheduled to take place before the men's—"to give the men a time to shoot for."
Financially hard-pressed college athletic directors tend to be rather unhappy about Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs receiving federal aid. Until now, Title IX has been interpreted to mean that per-capita expenditures for women's sports programs in schools must be more or less the same as those for men's. But last week, ruling in a case involving a high school golf program in Ann Arbor, a U.S. district judge in Detroit, Charles W. Joiner, held that schools don't have to provide equal funds for men and women when the particular sport receives no direct federal funds—regardless of whether or not the school as a whole gets federal moneys.