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OF LOTTERIES AND BAND-AIDS
In 1982, to help ease a budget crunch, Oregon stopped giving taxpayers' money to the athletic departments of its state universities. Largely as a result, Oregon, Oregon State and Portland State are now a total of $5.4 million in debt. The schools have dropped some non-income-producing sports—Oregon State chopped out its once glorious track program (POINT AFTER, June 20, 1988)—and in early June, Oregon president Myles Brand hinted that his university might have to withdraw from the Pac-10 or shut down its athletic department entirely.
A year ago the Oregon legislature thought it had found a painless way to fund intercollegiate athletics: It set up Sports Action, a sports lottery whose profits were to go to the athletic departments of state schools (SCORECARD, June 19, 1989, et seq.). However, Sports Action has been a less than rousing success, taking in $380,000 a week on NFL games but just $45,000 a week on NBA action. Worse, it seems to have undercut Oregon's non-sports lottery, which faces a shortfall of nearly $3 million for the fiscal year now ending. Sports Action has contributed $447,311 to athletic department coffers, but another $1.9 million in proceeds has been diverted to cover the shortfall in the regular lottery.
On June 14, with the athletic department deficits projected to grow by as much as $2 million in the next year, Oregon's board of higher education voted to allow the use of tax-derived funds to help fund the departments on an emergency basis. Many costs now borne by the athletic departments (among them athletic scholarships and salaries of coaches in nonrevenue sports) will for the next year be paid with general university funds. The schools will in turn be allowed to enroll several hundred more students, whose tuition will help cover the shifted athletic costs. "This is just a one-year Band-Aid," admits board spokesman Jim Sellers. "The long-term solution hasn't been determined."
States thinking of starting sports lotteries should learn from Oregon's experience (and from the example of Delaware, whose NFL lottery died 13 years ago from lack of interest) that such lotteries are no panacea. As for Oregon, it shouldn't rely on bettors to fund college athletics. If sports are part of a well-rounded education, and we believe they are, a state should be willing to include them in its general college funding.
According to a new study by researchers at Tufts University and Harvard Medical School, people 80 and older can benefit tremendously from a limited regimen of weightlifting. The researchers, who worked with 10 nursing home residents ranging in age from 86 to 96 three times a week for eight weeks, had their subjects sit on an exercise bench and lift weights by extending one leg at a time. The subjects improved their average lift nearly threefold over the eight-week span, to 42 pounds per leg. At the end of the study two of the subjects no longer had to use canes to walk, and nearly all were more mobile and had better balance, which rendered them less susceptible to falls.
"The importance of this study is that it shows that even at a very advanced age, physical frailty is treatable," says Dr. Evan Hadley, chief of the geriatric branch at the National Institute on Aging. "This could greatly reduce the need for nursing home admissions by maintaining mobility of older people and thus their ability to live independently."
Researchers warn that senior citizens shouldn't overdo their lifting and should check with their doctors before starting. But age alone appears to be no barrier to pumping iron. About 25 more residents of the nursing home in the study are now being placed on weightlifting regimens, including one man who is 99 years old.
WORLD CUP DRAW