"The extra-strict security screening at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel during the Summer Olympics netted . . . 11 handguns, four rifles, one sword and two machetes. All weapons were kept in police custody until the owners checked out of the hotel, which accommodated international Olympic officials, dozens of VIPs and banquets for athletes during the games."
So the final statistics of the XXI Olympiad have been tabulated. Ironically, the same mail included the final report of the President's Commission on Olympic Sports. Side by side, one offers additional evidence that the Olympics ought to be suspended until the world gets a better grip on itself, the other a thorough and thoughtful way to restructure American amateur fun and games.
From the two-volumn, 613-page commission report, it is clear the U.S. has enough problems putting its own amateur athletic house in order before debating the Olympian issue. Near the beginning, the commission gets down to basics with a statement and several questions.
"No, the major weaknesses of U.S. sport are simply - though massively - those of poor organization and funding," it reads. "U.S. sports groups are so fragmented that no clear policy or direction in amateur sports, physical education and fitness can be maintained.
"Crucial questions have never been answered:
"Should the U.S. sports system concentrate on producing international champions or on improving the fitness of the larger population? (The commissions believes the two ends are compatible, but most American sports organizations are intent on one or the other.)
"Should the sports in which we experience less success be developed to the point that the U.S., like the Soviet Union, competes for medals in every event in the Olympics, or would the effort and investment be better spent on a few selected sports?
"Such questions have been answered in a variety of ways in other countries. They cannot be addressed adequately in the U.S."
Not without what the commission calls "a constitutional convention of American sport." Or "A Central Sports Organization." Or, simply, enough grownups giving damn about fitness and athletic opportunity for their children.
"Despite recent gains in some areas," the commission quotes the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, "we know that 50 million adult Americans never exercise; that youth fitness test scores have not improved since 1965; that the number and quality of school physical education programs are declining; that the rejection rate for volunteers for military service is far too high, and that degenerative diseases associated with obesity and physical inactivity have reached the epidemic stage."
Sometimes U.S. sports are successful despite themselves. The Olympic archery program, the commission states, "is struggling, underexposed - and phenomenally successful. Target archers encounter difficulties in almost every aspect of the sport, yet the U.S. has won more medals and championships than any other country."
Judo is in dreadful shape, according to the commission, "extremely polarized due to a bitter organizational dispute." And, "on a scale of 1 to 10, the vital signs of team handball in the U.S. fall between 0 and 1." Biathlon "continues to survive in the U.S. only through the determination of a small band of hopelessly undermanned and underfinanced volunteers."
Even two American staples, basketball and swimming, are hampered by lack of postcollege programs and opportunities for women. And track and field is plagued by bickering between the AAU and NCAA, absence of a single-purpose coordinating body and lack of adequate funding.
In some instances, especially judo, wrestling and the equestrian sports, the U.S. rules for amateurism are more restrictive than the international rules, the commission said. And various NCAA rules are at ods with international standards. Even various state high-school associations conflict with each other.
"There are gaps among U.S. programs," the commission said. "Commensurate with the relative splendor of high school and college athletic opportunities, there is a near absence of programs for non school athletes. Few of the problems to be solved in any national sports program can be approached in a coordinated manner under the present U.S. organization.
"Yet the division and rivalries among American sports organizations do not need to exist. They represent no inherent conflicts in the interest of the athletes or the people of the United States."
Next: What to do - and why.