SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
March 20, 1989
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 20, 1989


View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3

After reading Jack McCallum's story on the NBA's most god-awful free throw shooters (page 96), we decided to ask Baldwin-Wallace College sophomore Valerie Kepner, who hit 95.5% of her free throws this season and set an NCAA record by canning 69 straight, what her secret is.

"It helps to do exactly the same things every time," says Kepner. "I always wipe the sweat off [my palms] onto my socks, then walk to the line. I center my right foot, take three dribbles and look at the rim—but not long enough to choke on it." Kepner advises putting plenty of arc on the ball and practicing every day, year-round.

Kepner says she also keeps a lucky charm in her right sock; it's a necklace that was given to her before this season by a friend. "But that might not work for everybody," she admits.


Arenaball, the ship-in-a-bottle version of football created two years ago by former USFL team executive Jim Foster, has been torn asunder by a mutiny. The league's five limited partners announced on Sunday that they were firing Foster as commissioner and chief executive officer and canceling the 1989 season, which would have opened early this summer. The partners, who anticipate returning to play in 1990, said Foster had done a poor job of running the league and that it faced losses of up to $5 million this season.

But that's only one side of a very complex story. Foster claims that he revoked the partners' licenses to use the rules and terminology of Arena-ball—for which he has patents and trademarks pending—a month ago. He says that the league may indeed operate this year, with six to eight teams. Foster plans to enlist the owners of the arenas in which those teams would play as his new partners.

When the league was created, each of the five limited partners made an investment of $750,000 and signed a contract to run a team, and league-office employees, led by Foster, were issued stock in the venture. Foster and the other stockholders were to receive all revenues, pay all bills and distribute all profits, in which the limited partners would share. But shortly into Arena-ball's first season, the limited partners took charge of the league's sagging finances and began to cut Foster out of the picture. "Guys didn't want to rent their football team from some guy who invented it," says Foster. "They wanted to own it."

The limited partners insist they still hold legal licenses from Foster to field Arenaball teams, and they think the league can survive a year's hiatus. "It sounds so much like the USFL that if history is a teacher we will wither and die," says Mike Hope, general manager of the Los Angeles Cobras. "But we're a different product, and we're not competing with the NFL."

Unfortunately for Arenaball, that may not be true for long. The NFL is considering the creation of a spring-summer league with teams in both the U.S. and Europe. No firm plans have been laid out, but the new league would feed talent to the NFL and increase the NFL's worldwide exposure.

1 2 3