As an alternative, two days in the searing heat of mid-July Philadelphia does not rank high on anyone's list.
The villages of Afghanistan rate even lower these days, however, some members of the orphaned U.S. Olympic track and field team are taking a positive approach to President Carter's "alternative games," the Liberty Bell Classic Wednesday and Thursday at Franklin Field.
"I don't think they're a substitute for the Olympic Games, but I think this is a great opportunity for the athletes to get out and be seen by the public as the U.S. Olympic team," said the men's captain, sprinter Harvey Glance. "Just sitting around and griping won't accomplish anything."
"I think a lot of performances here will be as good as the caliber we'd gotten if we'd competed in the Olympic Games," said Larry Myricks, the world's best long jumper. "We do regret in (missing the Olympics) and I think about it, but you can't gripe about it. You have to do the best you can with what you have."
Twenty-nine countries have sent representatives and the presence of boycotting athletes from West Germany and Kenya guarantees competition for most of the Americans.
An exception is hurdler Skeets Nehemiah, who has little to test him in the 110-meter event, except his Franklin Field record of 13.29 seconds. Nehemiah, who skipped most of the pre-Olympic European tour, is aiming for the big post-Olympic meets in Rome, Berlin and Zurich, the sites for the concluding phase of the "alternative games."
The most grueling event here is certain to be the decathlon, which starts at noon both days, in predicted upper-90 temperatures. Guido Krestschmer of West Germany, the world recordholder, will be challenged by America's best, Bob Coffman. The Germans failed in an attempt to alter the time for the competition, and Coffman is dreaming upset.
"I've been training all summer in Houston, where it's not exactly been snowing," Coffman said. "The Germans are concerned about starting at 12 and they haven't competed much above 60 degrees, so maybe the weather will be a help to us.
"This will probably be my first, last and only chance to compete against Kretschmer and I'm happy to get it."
Glance thinks the heat also could help the U.S. 400-meter relay team in its bid to set a world record. Mel Lattany, Glance, James Butler and Carl Lewis are thinking "38" as an alternative goal to Moscow gold, hoping to erase the 38.03 mark set by the U.S. World Cup team in 1977.
"The athletes who competed in Stuttgart and London would be happy to see this weather," Glance said. "It was in the 40s there and raining. It's tough to get loose in damp weather and you're cautious on a damp track. Here, I think we'll be flying."
The other world record possibility is in the high jump, since West German Dietmar Mogenburg, who shares the mark of 7-8 1/2 with Poland's Jacek Wszola, can take advantage of the football field's downhill approach that helped Dwight Stones set a world record here in 1976.
Most competitive of the running events figures to be the 800 meters, with local hero Don Paige of Villanova battling World Cup champion James Maina of Kenya and his countryman, Peter Lemashon, as well as tough Khalifa Omer of Sudan.