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The Inside Track | Page Two

Women's Coverage Is OK, Even If It's Uncoverage

November 04, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

Katarina Witt poses nude for Playboy, Cynthia Cooper bares her breasts in a photo shoot, Jeanie Buss appears topless in Sports Illustrated with basketballs covering her breasts.

I'm for it.

Or, I should say, I'm not against it.

There has been a question since women began playing more prominent roles in sports about whether they could call attention to their femininity and still be taken seriously in what remains largely a man's world.

For many, Florence Griffith Joyner provided the answer by embracing a look that made her an appropriate cover subject for Cosmopolitan as well as Track & Field News.

To young girls who didn't want to participate in athletics because of the tomboy stigma attached to them, that is an even more valuable part of FloJo's legacy than her world records.

Ten years after she blazed that trail, however, some still react as if women in sports who emphasize glamour are damaging not only their own credibility but that of every woman in sports.

Witt in particular has been criticized, as if her Playboy photographs mean that women's figure skating now will be regarded as nothing more than a beauty contest. In fact, beauty--of motion, if not necessarily of body--is an element in the judging of figure skating, but, any woman who hopes to become a champion should be advised to also pack a triple lutz.

I, however, understand the critics' concerns. We haven't come a long way since the LPGA tried to sell its tour based on how Jan Stephenson used the tools in her cosmetic bag instead of her golf bag.

Otherwise, Anna Kournikova wouldn't get more attention than Lindsay Davenport and boxing promoters wouldn't promote Mia St. John's looks instead of her left and right hooks. Women in sports shouldn't have to expose themselves to get exposure.

Neither should they be branded as traitors to the women's cause if they do.

Witt, a two-time Olympic champion; Cooper, a two-time WNBA most valuable player; and Buss, the most business savvy among heirs to father Jerry Buss' sports empire, didn't get where they are because of their looks. But now that they are where they are, they should have the freedom to choose how they express themselves.

*

I read Sports Illustrated for the articles. . . .

Don't miss the one in the current edition on Jerry Buss' family. . . .

The conclusion from one person quoted anonymously is that Buss eventually will recognize the futility of trying to get his children to work together and sell his sports operation to Rupert Murdoch. . . .

The writer, Franz Lidz, is an authority on dysfunctional families. His was the subject of the 1995 movie, "Unstrung Heroes." . . .

Los Angeles' City Council voted, 14-0, Tuesday to sanction an L.A. triathlon, an idea proposed last year by the L.A. Sports Council. Bids will be accepted from prospective organizers. . . .

One athlete I'd like to see compete is Casey Cook. . . .

Cook, from Ventura, suffers from a rare genetic disorder that cost him his sight when he was 9 and his hearing when he was 16. . . .

After a special hearing device restored 40% of his hearing 3 1/2 years later, he began participating in triathlons. . . .

He will receive an Arete Award tonight in Chicago for courage in sports. . . .

"I just have a few physical quirks," he says. "I'm mystified why others see what I do as a big deal." . . .

If UCLA wins the national championship, Bruin fans will look back on Marques Anderson's strip of Stanford's Jeff Allen the way they do Tyus Edney's coast-to-coast drive against Missouri in the 1995 NCAA basketball tournament. . . .

USC is 8-0 against UCLA this fall--3-0 in women's golf, 2-0 in women's volleyball, 1-0 in women's soccer, 1-0 in women's cross-country and 1-0 in men's water polo. . . .

Track & Field News projects the Trojan men to win the national championship and the women to finish third, one place behind UCLA. . . .

Former Trojan Quincy Watts, the 1992 400-meter Olympic gold medalist, is training again with Coach John Smith in Westwood. . . .

The cut under Oscar De La Hoya's eye that caused him to postpone his Nov. 21 fight against Ike Quartey probably was a blessing. . . .

Confident he would make quick work of Julio Cesar Chavez on Sept. 18, De La Hoya allowed the Quartey fight to be scheduled not quite two months later. . . .

De La Hoya, however, took almost as much punishment as he gave, leading some within the boxing world to believe he needed more time to recuperate before finally entering the ring against a worthy challenger like Quartey. . . .

Rick Pitino owns The Groom Is Red, who is running in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs--unless Pitino decides to lock him out. . . .

The New York Post reports that the Dodgers are poised to offer David Cone the moon. Does Murdoch own that too?

*

While wondering if Paul Hackett still believes Oregon is the Pac-10's best team or if it's Stanford this week, I was thinking: It doesn't take BCS rankings to figure out Ricky Williams has pretty much locked up the Heisman, it's hard to believe there are worse teams this season than the Philadelphia Eagles, Lawrence Taylor belongs in rehab and the Hall of Fame.

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