"Oh God, my feet are killing me," said Pam Shriver, the tennis player, as she yanked her black pumps from her feet. "I've been in this dress five hours. I'm going home to put on my old woolen pants and sneakers and watch the Super Bowl."
Shriver, honorary chairwoman of Women for Reagan in Maryland, had put on her best dress and come to town to celebrate with the other Athletes for Reagan-Bush. Some 2,000 of them lent their name to the reelection campaign, said Dick Schafrath, chairman of Athletes for Reagan-Bush, 300-400 worked actively, and somewhat fewer came for the inauguration. The National Economic and Political Action Committee threw a bash for them at the Capital Hilton and the Jefferson Education Foundation threw another, a Super Bowl party at the Sheraton-Carlton complete with a mini-football field, goal posts, popcorn and balloons.
Are athletes conservative? "I think a lot of their habits aren't too conservative," Shriver said.
"They're supposed to be loud and gregarious and party 24 hours a day," said Billy Joe DuPree, the former Dallas Cowboy. "Most athletes are not like that. Most guys are conservative."
Olympic swimmers Nancy Hogshead and Mike O'Brien are avowed conservatives, along with gymnast Peter Vidmar. "There's nothing wrong with athletes being involved in democracy," said Vidmar, a gold-medal winning member of the men's Olympic gymnastics team.
They all worked for Reagan, but their Olympic efforts probably did more to help his reelection than any speech they could have made. "I think Reagan had kind of begun to reinstill pride in America," said former Reagan political adviser Lyn Nofziger. "Reagan in turn benefited from that pride engendered by the Olympics."
No one at the festivities argued that politics and sports don't mix. In fact, DuPree said, politicians and athletes have a lot in common. "It's the audacity they have in trying to accomplish a winning position in their particular marketplace," he said. "They're both very aggressive. They get so hyper about winning, sometimes they forget what they are trying to win for."
He picked Miami by at least three.