Dousing Sparks


Easy question: In promo photos, what have you seen more often around
the neck of Houston Comets superstar Sheryl Swoopes–her infant or her WNBA
championship medal? Parading husbands and babies goes such a long way toward counteracting
the old amazon stereotypes the league just can’t abide.

But material reality rarely matches the hype. The WNBA provides no
child care during the season, and thus had little institutional defense to offer Los
Angeles Sparks forward Pamela McGee last week when Michigan judge Peter J. Maceroni
awarded temporary custody of her three-year-old daughter to her ex-husband while the court
investigates whether the lifestyle of a professional basketball player is conducive to the
child’s well-being. Never mind that the season is only three months long and extends
over the summer, when school is not in session. The ex-husband’s case seems based on
the presumption that being a professional athlete is itself contradictory to motherhood.

What’s worse, Judge Maceroni is not the most sensitive of refs.
He’s best known for imposing a gag rule on court officials in 1996 when questions
surfaced about the environmental safety of the district’s courthouses, and for
ordering the eviction of a troubled 74-year-old woman because she didn’t bring her
home of more than 40 years up to code in 30 days; the house just happened to occupy prime
real estate property. Last year, citing a pattern of autocratic management as chief
administrator, six of the nine circuit court judges in Maceroni’s county sent a
letter to Michigan’s supreme court justice requesting that Maceroni not be
reappointed to another two-year term. Liberty coach Nancy Darsch was dumped for less.

Manning, Manning, Manning

Rookie QB Peyton Manning certainly got a better deal, a record six
years and $42.7 million, from the Indianapolis Colts than Archie Manning got to join the
cellar-dwelling New Orleans Saints three decades ago, but in all other respects he is
following in his father’s ill-fated footsteps. For the Colts, like the past and
present Saints, success is a dim memory, and they are off to an 0-3 start with Peyton at
the helm. In his first three games, Peyton has lost one fumble that resulted in a score,
been sacked six times, and has thrown eight interceptions, two of which were returned for
touchdowns. Waiting in the wings of superstardom, however, is the youngest of Archie and
Olivia Manning‘s three sons, for whom things are going a little better. Eli Manning,
a high school senior, is the starting QB at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, a
position he was handed in his freshman year. His team is ranked No. 2 in the state in its
division. In his first game this year, he completed six of seven passes for 127 yards and
three touchdowns before retiring at half-time, as the Greenies went on to victory, 48-3.
In the second game, he tossed three more touchdown passes in a 35-7 win. Already Eli has
on file two oversized boxes filled with letters of interest from practically every college
that suits up a football team. The only bad weather to come his way was Tropical Storm
Frances, which caused flooding in New Orleans and forced the cancellation of Newman’s
second scheduled game.

Skipping Out

Flying past slow-moving garbage barges, tourists packed the Circle Line
and the Staten Island Ferry in New York Harbor this past Saturday where more than 20
classic sailboats competed for the annual Mayor’s Cup.

The 32nd year of this event saw no break in tradition–Mayor
, like his predecessors mayors Wagner, Lindsay, Beame, Koch, and
Dinkins–failed to grace the event with his presence. Despite the snub, three Americas
Cup yachts competed, including the Intrepid, winner of the Americas Cup in ’67
and ’70, and built in Long Island City. Last year senator/skipper Ted Kennedy won the
cup, hauling it to the lobby of Congress to show off to Capitol Hill cronies. This year
the 1926 yellow-pine schooner Adventurer took home the Mayor’s vessel.

The race was conceived by Peter Stanford in 1966 in an effort to return
sailboat racing to New York Harbor. He dubbed the competition the Mayor’s Cup,
thinking the compliment would draw the city’s head honcho, as well as lend the race
prestige. You win a few, you lose a few; today, the harbor hosts about six races a year
but, as yet, no mayors.

contributors: Alisa Solomon, Michael Swindle, Deirdre Hussey

sports editor: Katherine Pushkar