With reports of International Olympic Committee members demanding— and receiving— all sorts of riches, and with Salt Lake City officials bent out of shape about rumors of escorts and lap dancers being supplied in order to secure the Winter Games, Jockbeat couldn’t help but recall our own experience with IOC scoundrels. It was 1990 and the IOC was holding a symposium on women in sport at its academy in Ancient Olympia, Greece.
Certain members of the IOC, it seemed, had their own particular slant on the role of women in sport. Sitting down to lunch with them, we asked what they had done lately for the female athletes in their countries. “We beat our women when they get out of line,” one replied to the guffaws of others. And so went the conversation.
Another member— perhaps noticing we had flown in from Canada— got it in his head that we’d been sent to the conference to persuade them to vote for Toronto as host of the 1996 Games. And he was eager to be persuaded. At the end of the meal, he took out the keys to his cabin, jingled them in our direction, and yawned. “I think it’s time for a little sleep. I’m in room 223,” he said, looking directly at us.
Our first response was to wonder why he thought we would care. But then it hit us, this is what he imagined a conference on women in sport was about— women should be sporting about showing up at IOC cabins when they are told to do so, especially if their city is trying to obtain the Games.
And if they’re not, no worries, really. As Jockbeat was told (but could not confirm) prostitutes were being flown in for IOC members upon their request.
Yellow Flag for Redskins
Howard Milstein and Daniel M. Snyder will inherit more than a miserable football team (and one hell of a cash cow) if their purchase of the Washington Redskins receives expected league approval this week. The team’s trademarked name and assorted logos are the target of an ongoing lawsuit by Native American activists, who’ve struggled for years to have the Redskins name dropped.
Federal trademark law does not protect names that are disparaging or scandalous, plaintiff’s attorney Michael Lindsay tells Jockbeat, and Harjo et al. v. Pro-Football Inc. argues that the term Redskins is precisely that.
“Redskins is the worst thing in the English language you can call native peoples,” Suzan Shown Harjo says. A Cheyenne and Muscogee, Harjo is lead petitioner in the case, which was first filed in 1992 and saw oral arguments before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board this past May (a ruling is expected shortly). With a trademark canceled, the team and the NFL would lose their exclusive ability to use, and profit off, the name and logo— presumably enough, says Lindsay, to “cause them to change the name.”
Harjo says the ownership change is a prime opportunity to right an offensive wrong. “What an ideal time to change it,” she says. “It would be nice for the new owners to take this team into the new century with a cessation of aggression against native peoples.”
Milstein, who’ll have to surrender his co-ownership in the New York Islanders if the record-breaking sale goes through, declined comment to Jockbeat. But in the past, he has said that the new owners will consider the controversy. Not much of a promise, but perhaps baby steps from the official line the team’s attorney took in the Washington Post last year: “No one, when they hear the word Washington Redskins or Redskins, thinks it is in any way disparaging.”
Our Funny Valentine
Jockbeat was just thrilled— thrilled!— last week when we received a personalized Valentine’s Day card from none other than Knicks forward Larry Johnson. Packaged in a red envelope and written— in bubbly script— to our home address, the letter had Jockbeat’s significant other in a momentary jealous fit. The cheesy poem inside— Roses are Red/Sugar is Sweet/We Can’t Wait to See You/Back in Your Seat— quickly extinguished any suspicious feelings. But the genuine signature— with a “#2” underneath— got our heart pumping again. How thoughtful!
Our swoon was short lived, however. We soon discovered we weren’t so special, after all; apparently, 300,000 fans and “team business partners” received the exact same card, signed by various players, coaches, general managers, and owners (couldn’t they have at least sent us one signed by our new Knicks fave, Latrell Sprewell, who has a true grip on our heart?). On top of that, 400,000 other fans got similar Valentine’s Day greetings via e-mail— not exactly the sort of medium that makes one’s heart flutter. In the end, Jockbeat was left wondering, even if we still love this game, does it truly love us back? Or is the whole thing just a sleazy pickup scam?
contributors: Laura Robinson, Joanna Cagan, Miles D. Seligman
sports editor: Miles D. Seligman
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 16, 1999