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Hmmm, What to Do?
Above It All
Are the folks who run international sport answerable to anybody other than themselves? In last week's news:
•A federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, reaffirmed a $27.3 million award to U.S. 400-meter star Butch Reynolds in his lawsuit against the IAAF, track and field's world governing body. But IAAF president Primo Nebiolo reiterated his view that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over his organization. The court had found that the IAAF denied Reynolds due process in banning him for alleged use of anabolic steroids. Asked if the award to Reynolds would be paid, Nebiolo said, "Never, never—he can live 200 years."
•Anita DeFrantz, an American who's a member of the International Olympic Committee, and LeRoy Walker, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, testified at a Senate Commerce Commitee hearing against resolutions expected to be adopted this week by Congress that urge the IOC to reject Beijing as the site of the 2000 Summer Olympics because of China's shameful human-rights record. DeFrantz and Walker warned that the IOC, miffed at what it perceived as political interference by Congress, could select Beijing out of spite.
Nebiolo ought to realize that if the IAAF does business in the U.S., it is subject to U.S. laws. And if DeFrantz and Walker are worried that congressional resolutions might be perceived as undue meddling, they ought to use their influence to change that perception rather than surrender to it. Congress should have the right—as should any political body in the world, or any individual—to express its views without the IOC's feeling the need to retaliate.
U.S. airlines are suffering a severe profit squeeze, but that hasn't stopped them from shelling out big bucks to affix their names to sports facilities. The United Center, now under construction, will replace Chicago Stadium as home of the Bulls and the Blackhawks, and the Capital Centre in Landover, Md., where the Washington Bullets and Capitals play, will become the USAir Arena on Aug. 1. Also, there has been talk that American Airlines might lend its name to the Texas Rangers' new park, which is being built in Arlington. And don't forget Salt Lake City's Delta Center, home of the Utah Jazz, and Phoenix's America West Arena, home of the Suns.
The airlines say the expense of putting their names on arenas—the Landover deal will cost USAir $1 million a year—is money well spent. "Every time the Jazz play at the Delta Center, it's exposure for us," says Clay McConnell, a Delta spokesman. But Julius Maldutis, a Salomon Brothers analyst who specializes in the airline industry, questions the wisdom of the tieins. "Airlines tend to be copycats, whether it makes sense or not," he says.