Amateur-based Olympics?

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS August 8, 2016 #605 Up next…Amateur-based Olympics?

After further review… Olympiad XXXI (31 for those not into Roman numerals) is now under way in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with some 5,000 hours of televised events! Long before the Olympics were televised, I became a fan of our athletes. It was only natural, with accomplishments like those of Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936 providing examples of US athletes with the courage and determination to compete under the most trying conditions.

Olympic athletes came into my life when I was a student at Occidental College (L.A.). I was the M.C. at our annual “Water Carnival” in 1948, and we invited Patricia McCormick to put on a diving exhibition. McCormick that year had just missed by the narrowest of margins qualifying for the games in London. But she was dedicated and persistent, winning four gold medals (the feat known in the trade as a “double-double”) in the springboard and platform events in Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956). After retiring from competition, McCormick founded “Pat’s Champs” a foundation that funds programs to encourage youngsters to set goals and follow their dreams. I was honored to serve on her board as chair. About that same time, I met Sammy Lee, the first Asian-American to win an Olympic medal for the USA. In fact, Lee won a pair of golds (“2-Golds” as he is known-by) one each in London (1948) and Helsinki (1952) in platform diving. Dr. Sammy Lee, now 96 and enshrined in the US Olympic Hall of Fame, is still active in his community.

In the mid-1970s I worked with special athletes in the California Special Olympic Summer Games, where I met Rafer Johnson. Rafer had won the decathlon gold medal in Rome (1960), after his decathlon silver medal in Melbourne (1956). He has served as chairman for Special Olympics, and has been its spokesman, for over 45 years. I was honored to serve on that California board with him some years back.

In that same time frame, as principal of Franklin High School (L.A.), we invited Olympians Dwight Stones and Cathy Rigby to demonstrate their athletic skills to our student body. In a packed gym, Stones, an Olympic high jumper in the Munich games (1972) and Montreal (1976), jumped off a hard wood floor and cleared the bar at seven feet. Cathy at 4’11”, was the first American–male or female–to win gold at the World Games in gymnastics, and though she did not medal at the Olympics in Mexico City (1968) or Munich she produced outstanding demonstrations on the balance beam and uneven parallel bars. She was the much-admired American face of the Olympics in the early 1970s. The achievements of all these named above were accomplished as amateurs, often competing with athletes from other countries who were paid to compete.

The TunneySide always believed the Olympics were created “to heal wars and to come together in peace.” It was for amateurs competing as individuals, not for their country’s medal count – as if the number of victories equals being a great nation!

Will you log-in with about amateur vs professional athletes in Olympic competition?

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“Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports” is now available for $20. which includes tax, shipping and autograph, if requested. These articles take current sports issues and transforms them into positive messages for better living. Email to the above. Thank You!

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Trust! Is it gone?

ON THE TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS August 1, 2016 #604 Up next…Trust! Is it gone?

After further review…The use of video replay to correct on-course judgments by players and officials in recent golf tournaments has raised many issues of its use. Golf and tennis have “traditionally” operated under the honor system. My undergraduate studies at Occidental College (L.A.) employed that method and functioned very well for test taking and the like. That system reinforces “honesty is the best policy.” It has served me well in all that I do.

The honor system was not in place in T*E*A*M sports that I played or officiated. It is hard to imagine a WR in football, after scoring a TD, returning to the closest official and saying, “Excuse me, but I stepped out of bounds at the two-yard line and you probably didn’t see it, so it’s okay to take away the TD.” Huh? You kiddin’ me? The same scenario can be created in other T*E*A*M sports as well. Calling fouls and rule violations is only part of an official’s job.

First and foremost, officials are at the scene of the action to ensure that the game is played within the established rules and is conducted under fair and equal (as humanly possible) conditions. Secondly, they are there to maintain the integrity of the game. Thirdly, and not of any lesser importance, is to ensure the best possible safety conditions for players and coaches. And fourth, game officials operate with preventive maintenance, working with (not against) players and coaches. In the opinion here, none of the above can be effectively done via video replay. Trust of the human element is essential.

Game officials don’t create the rules but (and in the most trying conditions of time and movement) ensure that all of the above are held to the highest standard. It has been my privilege to be associated with sports officials for over six decades; thousands of men and women officiate because they love the game. They have no interest in who wins or loses, only that is conducted within the rules. Trusting their judgment and their integrity is vital in sports.
Will you observe game officials with that in mind?

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“Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports” has many examples of integrity in sports! Available for $20. at the email above and includes tax, shipping, and autograph, if requested. Thank You!

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“A Lesson in Fair Play”

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS July 25, 2016 #603 Up next… “A lesson in Fair Play”

After further review…A friend who has since passed away shared with me this story: One day while golfing with colleagues in the insurance industry, he said he discovered yet another example of honesty being the best policy. He knew two of the men in his foursome and was just getting to know the fourth, he called him Ace; and by the third hole, he learned more.

Ace and his business partner had owned a property and casualty insurance agency. They had put in the years and the sweat, as their agency grew into a respectable mid-size firm. It attracted the attention of one of the big conglomerates. After some negotiations, Ace and his partner decided to sell to the “big guns,” agreeing to stay on as consultants and continue to do some selling. The paperwork was completed; everyone seemed pleased.

After a couple years, Ace and his partner felt they weren’t active enough and decided they wanted to go back to running a brisker business, like they had before. The big guns said they couldn’t, claiming they had agreed to never again work in insurance outside the big firm. Ace said, “Show me where we agreed to any such thing.” The big guns claimed it had been an oral agreement. Ace knew there had never been such a discussion, much less an agreement, so he said, “See ya in court.”

In court, the judge agreed that an oral contact is as good as a written one, if it could be established there was such. The judge’s question was: which one to believe? After two days of listening to both sides the judge said, “It’s basically a question of who do I believe, and in the absence of any real evidence, I have to go with my gut and my gut tells me to trust experience.” The judge continued, “the experience that’s relevant here is that a number of years ago Mr. Ace played in the state golf championship. On the 18th fairway, he hooked his second shot into a bunker. He was up and out in one, made the putt and everyone thought he had won the tournament, except that Ace announced that he had grounded his club in the bunker and declared a two-shot penalty on himself.”

Further the judge said, “No one had seen Ace ground his club. He could have not said anything and taken the win, but he didn’t. He told the truth, when he didn’t have to; and I believe he is telling the truth now. Case closed.”

Will you step-up to tell the truth when you could have dodged it?

contact Jim, go to or email

“Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports” is now selling at $20. which includes tax, shipping, and autograph, if requested. This book takes issues from the sport world and transforms them into positive messages for better living. Email to the above address. Thank You!

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