The CBS search for sports programming to fill its lost weekends, liberalized eligibility rules that have given Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi and others new competitive life and, of course, the Tonya vs. Nancy afterglow are dynamics that have combined to create more opportunities for more figure skaters than ever.
But the tug-of-war among traditional governing bodies, independent promoters, television networks and agents for the sport's few marketable names, such as Boitano and Yamaguchi, has also created more confusion than ever.
For example, try to figure out the status of France's Surya Bonaly.
The French federation announced last month that Bonaly, the four-time European champion and 1994 world championships silver medalist, would compete in the U.S. Figure Skating Assn.'s annual invitational, Skate America, Oct. 27-30 in Pittsburgh.
But Bonaly's agent, Michael Rosenberg of Palm Desert, recently announced that she will open her season in a professional competition Oct. 1 in Sun Valley, Ida.
If Bonaly competes in Idaho, she will not be eligible for Skate America because the Sun Valley event, promoted by Michael Berg, is not sanctioned by the USFSA.
The USFSA, however, has begun negotiations that could result in Berg's receiving a sanction.
That would free Bonaly to compete in Skate America.
But, Rosenberg announced, Bonaly also is entered in an unsanctioned professional competition in Cleveland on Oct. 19. Negotiations between its promoter, Dick Button, and the USFSA are not as likely to result in sanctioning, so Bonaly again would be out of Skate America.
Of course, if Bonaly chooses to compete in events that do not have the blessing of the USFSA, she could still apply for reinstatement to the International Skating Union that would allow her to compete in the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Then again. . . .
She must first submit her application to French federation officials, and they say that they will not pass it on to the ISU if she competes this season in unsanctioned events.
ISU council members, including USFSA President Claire Ferguson, met over the weekend in Zurich, Switzerland, in an attempt to restore order.
They should suspend all eligibility rules for one year, which would give interested parties an opportunity to sit down with each other and decide the best course for the sport and its athletes. One can only hope they would exhibit more vision than the parties involved in the baseball strike.
Along with Gwen Torrence in the 200, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was one of only two U.S. women to lead individual events in this year's outdoor track and field listings.
But although she was first in the long jump, she dropped to third in an event she has dominated in recent years--the heptathlon--behind two Germans, Heike Drechsler and Sabine Braun. Competing in her first heptathlon in 13 years, Drechsler was the world leader with the 6,741 points that she scored two weeks ago in Talence, France. Asked if she is setting her sights on Joyner-Kersee's world record of 7,291, Drechsler said, "One never knows. If I'm motivated."
She was motivated to compete in Talence by a $30,000 appearance fee.
Track and field's male athlete of the year: Is it Great Britain's Colin Jackson, who won all 20 110-meter hurdles races he entered, or Algeria's Noureddine Morceli, world leader in the 1,500, the 3,000 and the mile? . . . U.S. athletes showed so little interest in track and field's recent World Cup in London that International Amateur Athletic Federation President Primo Nebiolo says they might not have a separate team in future events. They would have to qualify as part of a team representing the Americas.
The U.S. Gymnastics Federation is waiting to hear whether two-time world all-around champion Shannon Miller will try to represent the United States in the Nov. 11-20 world team championships in Dortmund, Germany.
Miller's coach, Steve Nunno, said previously that she needs a break after finishing second in the all-around in her two most recent competitions, the Goodwill Games and the U.S. championships. If Miller decides she wants to compete in Dortmund, she must qualify for the U.S. team in an Oct. 15-16 meet in Richmond, Va.
Chinese sports officials win the gold medal for double standards. After lecturing International Olympic Committee members last year about not allowing politics to interfere with sports in the vote for the site of the 2000 Summer Olympics, the Chinese threatened to boycott next month's Asian Games in Hiroshima if Japanese authorities allowed Taiwan's president, Lee Teng-hui, to enter the country for the opening ceremony. Taiwan announced Monday that Vice Premier Hsu Li-teh will attend instead.
World Scene Notes
For relinquishing her place in the 200-meter freestyle final to compatriot Franziska van Almsick, who subsequently set a world record, Germany's Dagmar Hase was rewarded with a $2,000 plane ticket and an expenses-paid, 15-day vacation in the country of her choice by Lufthansa Airlines. "I don't know whether to laugh or cry," Hase said. . . . U.S. speedskaters Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair were supposed to end their careers together in next February's world sprint championships in Milwaukee. But Jansen has already retired, and he's telling friends he believes Blair will decide to continue competing until someone can consistently beat her. . . . The IOC site selection committee that will visit 10 cities bidding for the 2002 Winter Olympics arrived Sunday at its first stop, Salt Lake City. The committee will cut the field to four in January.