The cheerleaders were stationed at even intervals, shouting "pull, Pull, PULL!" Whereupon their American Security Bank teammates calmly outtugged their obviously straining opponents from the consulting firm of Booz-Allen & Hamilton and Xerox Corp., consists of 19 events for men, women and, in some cases, both, run in regular and masters (over 35) divisions. Track and field events were held Saturday, and the five-kilometer race, swimming and tug-of-war events Sunday.
As in past years, such standards as the 60-yard dash were complemented by special events such as the "Tie-One-On," a relay race in which corporate honchos must tie a necktie and carry a briefcase, and the "Wet T-Shirt Relay," a swimming event in which teammates must don and doff a wet T-shirt instead of handing off a baton.
Teams consist of up to 24 employes of each company, from mail-room clerks to vice presidents, with no team member being allowed to participate in more than four events. The $3,500 entrance fee, usually paid by the company, goes to the Washington Special Olympics chapter. This year's event raised more than $100,000.
"It's an opportunity to create unity among employes -- both management and nonmanagement -- and at the same time to help a very special organization in the hearts of a great many people, the D.C. Special Olympics," said former Redskins running back Larry Brown, a Special Olympics board member and coach of the Xerox team.
The American Security team will travel to Orlando, Fla., this fall to compete with 17 other teams in the national finals. Last year the team finished sixth. This year it is considered a candidate for the national title.
"In my opinion, they are one of the two top teams we've seen in five cities so far," said Michael Paris, Corporate Sports Battle national event coordinator, adding, "Washington is one of our largest and most competitive cities."
As the teams arrived on Saturday, Booz-Allen & Hamilton team members carried huge signs featuring the American Security corporate logo crossed out and "Break the Bank" printed beneath. Designed by Booz-Allen associate Henry Herz, the signs were a morale boost, but the team fell short.
"There's not much you can do against genetic engineering," Herz said after hearing of American Security's victory.
Employes of the Federal Aviation Administration held weekly bake sales in the lobby of the agency's headquarters and then pitched in from their own pockets to reach the $3,500 entrance fee. It was the first time a group without corporate backing entered the competition.
The idea came from traffic management specialist Wayne Waltrip, who last year rode his bicycle from California to Ocean City, Md., to benefit multiple sclerosis research. The FAA team finished in a tie for 26th place, outdistancing the team from Burroughs Corp., which couldn't ring up a point in the sports battle.
"We were first among all the other federal agencies," deadpanned Ed Newburn, manager of the FAA's traffic flow branch. The FAA won the sportsmanship award, the first time a team rather than a player has won.
Another newcomer was the team from Geico, which practiced two days a week for the past two months and was rewarded with a strong fifth-place finish.
Regional Vice President Donn Knight showed up to cheer his team on, wearing his Geico T-shirt and yelling "Good luck guys, gals, persons" as the tug-of-war group took the field. When two victories followed, the insurance company bunch was ecstatic. This was no goof-off day or personnel gimmick: The team was out to win.
"The people who are involved in this are probably the neatest group we've got," said Knight. "I hope their camaraderie and spirit and will to win will rub off on others."
Geico lead programmer analyst Debbie Masters said, "This is probably the closest any of us would come to real competition. Right?"