This was going to be a mostly puffy piece about women's gymnastics - the daring Barbie dolls and their wonderful tricks - but instead evolved rather quickly into another tirade over how grownups the youngsters to satisfy their own sporting passions, Olga, You've created a monster.
The specifics involve a newly created competition, the Nation's Capital Cup to be held in Cole Field House Saturday, a promoter, a temperamental coach, television and assorted lawyers bickering over an innocent and immensely gifted 13-year-old, Stephanie Willim. Why it happened began in Munich five years ago.
Women's gymnastics is divided into two eras - Before Korbut and After Korbut. Before television discovered that Soviet gymnastics pioneer at the '72 Olympics, the world would notice the sport now and then, say, "Oh, that's nice," and continue about its business.
After Korbut danced, flipped and cried her way into our hearts, all that changed. Suddenly, uncounted thousands of girls not ready even for braces - and presumably including Stephanie Willim - went bonkers over the sport. Backs of livingroom coaches became balance beams; fathers could scarcely, read the paper without becoming the target of some tiny tumbler.
And promoters got dizzy over the dollar possibilities. Fro mthe lucrative Korbut tours came the lucrative tours that featured the Romanian who, in the Montreal Games, took the sport to an even higher plane than Korbut, Nadia Comaneci.
The tours were so successful - and interest in the sport so keen - that such as the M Club, the organization responsible for the care and feeding of guards and linebackers at Maryland, thought a meet could do well without any international glitter.
So we have the Nation's Capital Cup, with the alleged eight best teams in the U.S. competing for team and individual honors in the four basic Olympic events, one of those "Olympians of tomorrow right here in our backyard" sort of gigs.
All seemed to be moving space until a small"correction appeared in Monday's Post. Willim "probably" would not appear, it said, because she was in a weeklong traning session in California. And then the fit really hit the sham.
Because Willim was vital to the gate ($5 for reserved seats, $3 for general admission to the evening sho), promoter Bob Wall raised a furor, insisting her coach. Greg Weiss, had deceived him, had in fact used his pupil, knowing she might well not compete, so the rest of his M.G. team could participate.
"He knew all along she wouldn't be here," said Wall. "But he didn't tell anyone at all. And then he had her mother (actually it was her father) call the paper. He knew this weeks ago, and said nothing."
Weiss said that in fact Ruth Ann McBride of MarVa Teens, who was helping Wall with the meet, knew of this California training camp and had tried to arrange for Willim and others to be excused early.
To which Wall said: "He and Ruth Ann don't get along. That's no secret. To keep peace in the family I tried to deal with each of them separately. And he never gave me the courtesy of a phone call."
With no Willim, Wall pulled the rest of the M.G. team. And Weiss was livid, at one point unfettering his attorney at Wall and the M Club. A day later Weiss called the attorney off. "The team was invited," Weiss insisted. "Not just Stephanie. She couldn't get here before 4 a.m. Saturday - and I'm not going to pull her off a plane at that hour and have her getting ready to perform a few hours later.
"We could beat half the teams in the meet without Stephanie. The other girls have been training hard, looking forward to the meet. And now he's reprimanding us by saying we can't compete.
"Besides, Stepanie has a back injury - and Wall knows that because she had to scratch in three of the four events during the Romanian tour in September, which he promoted."
Funny thing, Wall replied. When Weiss heard CBS was planning to film the competition, he offered to allow Willim to perform an exhibition or one or two events. Nothing doing, Wall said, and then CBS pulled out when it knew Willim was unavailable. Also, Wall said the teams split two thirds of the profits from the meet.
"Frankly, all this stinks," said one source close to the matter.
Who is to blame? Everyone involved to a degree. What we have are some hard-working little girls who are being denied access to a meet they probably deserve to enter, and some coaches who ultimately might well spoil their sport through their own private, pretty wars.