While most of the nation's fans had their eyes fixed on Pete Rose last weekend, a few amateur sports buffs were watching something called the National Sports Festival.
The four-day, $1.5 million festival, which ended here last Sunday, was widely billed as a king of mini-Olympiad, with athletes performing in 26 sports, mostly Olympic events.
In fact, many local residents could be overheard saying that Coldrado Springs would be happy to host those 1984 Olympic Games, thank you, if Mayor Tom Bradley and those Los Angeles are unable to get their act together.
Realistically, however, this town has a way to go before it can host an Olympiad. The facilities were taxed by the 2,000-plus athletes from around the country who took part. Add to that the fact that the only major stadium here, at the Air Force Academy, is not equipped for track and field.
"I don't know if you can ever do enough for the amateur athlete," former long-jump champion Ralph Boston said. "But this is a long step in the right direction. You can't even compare it to what they did for us when I was still jumping."
Boston, who at a trim 177 pounds still looks like he could hit 25 feet without much effort, was particularly hopeful about the effect the festival would have on younger athletes.
"I dare say the effects on the juniors will be most pronounced, since it gives them a chance to compare themselves to themselves," he said.
Not that there were no gripes at the festival. The rowers had to be content with a 500-meter course, although women normally race 1,000 meters in the Olympics and men 2,000.
"It really isn't much of a test," an oarsman from New England said. "But the rowing people went along, just happy, I guess, to be a part of this thing. No one wanted to be left out."
A group of wrestlers was ready to pull out after a flap of over whether it would be allowed to keep its uniforms, as it had been promised, and whether its full transportation costs would be paid. The fact that the world wrestling championships are scheduled for here shortly complicated matters since many top wrestlers chose not to compete in the sports festival and risk injury.
Some of the biggest complaints were voiced over transportation and beer or the lack of both, especially at the Air Force Academy, where a majority of the participants were garrisoned.
It took many of the coaches, athletes and officials the entire four days to figure out the schedule for buses the festival organizers provided for transportation to the sites of other sports.
At the academy, 11 events were going on at three areas, all within easy reach of another, but the other sports were spread among nine sites from Woodmoor Lake, 20 minutes to the north, to Pueblo, more than an hour to the southeast.
Quite a few participants would have been happy to stay on the beautiful academy campus, in the shadow of Pike's Peak, except for the fact that the place had gone dry.
"You can't even get any of the 3.2 beer they usually srve the cadets," moaned a disgruntled marathoner.
There was a lot of gossip about at the festival, and the local papers made sure nobody missed figure-skating champ Linda Fratianne's new nose, which among other things is supposed to improve her breathing.
Some observers expressed surprise that Providence's Dave Gavitt beat out Louisville's Denny Crum and several others for the job of men's Olympic basketball coach.
Crum had his reasons to be happy, however. Not only did his South team win the basketball competition - which was dominated by high school All-Americans and junior college players, since complicated NCAA rules made it impossible for collegians to compete - but two of the best individual performers, the runner-up East's Scooter McCray and the South's Jerry Eaves, will enroll at Louisville this fall.
Speaking of basketball, the women's East team coached by Maryland's Chris Weller, rolled to the championship, whipping the South, 72-58.
Starring for Weller's squad was Ginger Rouse, formerly of Robinson High and currently a North Carolina State starter. Gail Hook of Rockville also played. Dunbar High's Joe Holston performed for the men's East team, as did Bill Fields of Manassas, who is headed for Providence. The East women's team handball squad had Kathleen Bryant of Silver Spring and West Chester (Pa.) state and Carol Barkalow of Laurel and West Point.
The gold medal-winning West field hockey squad boasted McLean's Nancy White, who is at Stanford, and Maryland's Sharon Holtschneider, a Baltimorian, performed for the East team.
Finally, Palmer Park's Roger Leonard Sugar Ray's older brother, was decisioned in the welterweight boxing semifinals by arch rival Clinton Jackson of Nashville. The past two AAU champs provided some of the better moments of the festival's boxing competition that was otherwise highlighted by a surprise early visit to the training camp by Sugar Ray Leonard.