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May 9, 1970

Brundage Called for Ban of Four Olympic Sports

May 09, 1999|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committee from 1952 to '72, always had a problem with athletes who made money.

In his perfect world, athletes were broke. Of course, he didn't feel that way about himself. He was a millionaire.

As Jim Murray once wrote: "Avery Brundage was born in the 19th century and managed to rise beneath it."

On this date in 1970, Brundage's railing against the intrusion of money into Olympic sports approached lunacy.

In an Amsterdam speech to the world's amateur sports federations, he proposed that four sports--Alpine skiing, ice hockey, soccer and basketball--be eliminated from the Olympics. His reason: "Amateur" athletes in those sports were making money.

Brundage was furious that top Alpine skiers, for example, were earning up to $50,000 from product endorsements.

After noting that of the 114 medals awarded in Alpine skiing in the previous 10 Olympics, 101 were to athletes from only five countries, he said:

"There is no place in the Olympic program for a sport of such limited appeal. This poisonous cancer must be eliminated. . . . Alpine skiing does not belong on the Olympic program."

The same goes for ice hockey, soccer and basketball, he said.

The four sports outlasted Brundage, who died at 88 in 1975.

Also on this date: In 1973, Cincinnati's Johnny Bench hit three home runs and drove in seven runs at Philadelphia. . . . In 1978, on the same day, bowlers Bob Brinkman in Cincinnati and Ross Packard in San Jose rolled back-to-back 300 games. The two were believed to be only the 12th and 13th bowlers to roll consecutive perfect games. . . . In 1969, Bob Cousy was named coach of the NBA's Cincinnati Royals. . . . In 1982, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard's future was in doubt after he had surgery to repair a detached retina.

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