Tuesday, February 3, 1981
The Michigan Daily
FROSH SHOTPUTTER AIMS FOR TOP
By JOE CHAPELLE
Shot-put specialist John Nielson, who
has set his sights on the 1984 Olympics,
has no. qualms about borrowing from a
celebrated predecessor. The freshman
Wolverine makes use of an unorthodox
discus spin technique used by the unof-
ficial world record-holder Brian 01-
The Oldfield technique might just be
Nielson's key to achieving his lofty
goals. Many track experts would con-
sider the 220-pound shot-putter as too
small. Michigan track coach Jack
Harvey, however, does not believe that
Nielson suffers from a relative lack of
"Many people look at him and say
that he is not very big, but I think that
he has a lot of potential. He has
qualities that make up for his lack of
size. He has strength and determination
and is very quick and explosive."
Though "small," Nielson certainly
e technique for Nielson
has potential. At the Michigan Relays
meet, he heaved the shot 57-9112, a fine
effort for a freshman.
Although Nielson's natural speed and
be a certain individual to use it," said
Harvey. "It's not the type of form you
can take and install with everybody."
The discus spin style is harder to con-
trol than the conventional style. "It
requires more coordination because the
shot-putter must control his rotational
force as well as horizontal force," said
Harvey. "The people that use it well
do increase the speed on the shot." The
advantages of the technique can out-
weight the disadvantages, as Olfield's
world record in the 1972 Olympics
"It (the Olfield style) was difficult for
me when I first started," said Nelson.
"The first time I threw with it,
however, it really increased my distan-
ce, and I decided that this was for me."
In recent years the discus spin style
has become a much more widespread
phenomenon. "At almost every meet,
you will see at least two or three people
using the spin," said Harvey.
Coming to compete at Michigan was
a big change for Nielson. "The amount
of competition is the big difference,"
said Nielson, a graduate of Seaforth
District High School in Seaforth, On-
tario. "I am competing against more
people now," said Nielson. "At the local
meets (in Ontario), there would be only
eight throwers and,bat2provincial
meets, there would be 25 throwers.
Here there are more than 30 throwers
at every meet," Nielson added.
Nielson is confident of his success this
season. "I should do well in the Big
Ten," he said. "I am expecting to im-
prove a bit more this year."
"This is the first time that I've com-
peted in indoor track," he continued.
"It is not my favorite time of the year."
Nielson, a physical education and
biology major,' has one goal which he
shares with many other collegeshot-
putters. "I want to reach the 1984
Olympics," he said. "If I go there, I
want to make it into the finals."
-P Top Twenty
... lots of potential
strength tend to offset his relative lack
of size, Nielson's use of Olfield's discus
spin technique could be his springboard
The Olfield style is radically dif-
ferent from the conventional glide style
used by most college shot-putters. The
discus spin style allows the shot-putter
to get much more speed on the shot
which adds to distance.
The Olfield technique, however, does
have its disadvantages. "You have to
1. Virginia (35) ..........18-0
2. Oregon St. (26) ........17-0
3. DePaul ...............18-1
4. Louisiana St. (1) ......19-1
5. Arizona St.............15-2
6. Kentucky .............15-3
7. Utah ..................18-1
8. Wake Forest ..........17-2
9. Notre Dame..........14-3
10. Tennessee ............15-3
11. North Carolina ........16-4
12. UCLA ............12-4
15. Iowa .............13-4
16. Brigham Young.....15-4
19. Wichita St.........16-2
20. South Alabama.......17-3
MICHIGAN ........ 5 3
Illinois ............. 5 3
Iowa .............5 3
Ohio State.........5 3
Purdue ............ 4 4
Michigan State.....3 5
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' CEDAR POINT.m
THE SPORTING VIEWS
In O'Brien 's NBA circus,
show business comes first
By SCOTT M. LEWIS
'Basketball is the favorite sport among Americans below the age of 35. The potential
for our sport goes right off toward the sunset.'
-NBA Commissioner Lawrence O'Brien,
February 26, 1979
Unfortunately for Lawrence O'Brien and the league he governs, the sun
already has begun to set on the world of professional basketball. In its stead
one can find a huge, dark cloud of uncertainty.
The NBA All-Star game, played Sunday in Richfield, Ohio, did little to
recapture the support of fans who abandoned the NBA and now swear sole
allegiance to the college level of competition. The carnival-like atmosphere,
the whining cheerleaders, and a spastic San Diego Chicken tended to con-
firm one's belief that professional basketball has indeed reached the point of
despair. A once-proud and great game has, in a few short years, degenerated
into a sideshow for the ridiculous.
SIMPLY STATED, the NBA has become a joke. Few people, however, are
laughing, especially the 23 owners, many of whom are likely to absorb heavy
financial losses. For instance, Cleveland Cavaliers' owner Ted Stepein, who
hosted Sunday's extravaganza, is expected to lose close to $2.5 million this
season. He has hinted that, should the attendance picture not brighten in the
near future, the Cavaliers might fold.
The Cleveland team is not the only struggling NBA franchise. Not by any
means. The Denver Nuggets reportedly will suffer a loss this season in ex-
cess of $1 million, as will the New Jersey Nets, Indiana Pacers and-not sur-
prisingly-the Detroit Pistons.
When franchises in such well-established markets as Detroit, Cleveland,
and Denver are strangled by a financial bind, it can mean only one thing for
the NBA: the league. in its present form, is in deep trouble.
Why has fate soured on professional basketball, once hailed "The Sport of
The Seventies"? Or is the league itself, and not fate, to blame? During the
first half of the past decade, attendance at NBA games increased an average
of 4 percent per year. Television ratings, too, began to soar, precipitating an
intense bidding war between CBS and ABC for the rights to bring Dr. J.,
Hondo, The Big E, and later Magic into America's liing rooms.
The optimism of the mid-seventies has long since disappeared. The arrival
last year of Earvin Johnson and Larry Bird, jointly called "the savior" in
some NBA circles, served only to increase appeal and hype ratings for a
single season. This year, with Johnson sidelined with a knee injury and Bird
and his Boston Celtic teammates on national television display almost every
week, public interest has receded to pre-1970 levels.
THE TASK OF rekindling interest-and restoring respectability-falls in-
to the hands of O'Brien and his staff. The problems are numerous, and in
some cases, virtually unsolvable. But the NBA, which celebrated its 35th an-
niversary last weekend; can and should attempt to eliminate them. Its very
future may be at stake.
The first step the commissioner might take is a simple one-curtail the ex-
tracurricular "show biz" activities taking place on the court. Certinly, it
can be argued that the Chicken, Crazy George (the dribbling wizard), the
Classy Chassis and Teddy's Bears (the Cavs' cheerleaders) provide great
family fun, and fun is what sports should be all about.
But a basketball game is an athletic event which produces excitement,
drama, and yes, FUN, on its own merits. College basketball games, whether
they feature teams from the Big Ten, ACC, or MAC, are enjoyable to at-
tend-not because of the dancing Chicken, Dancing Harry, or dancing
cheerleaders, but because of the high level of emotion present most of the
Hereinlies another problem: emotion and intensity. A lack of intensity.
should not be confused with an absence of discipline; the latter refers to a
style of play, while the former describes an inability (or unwillingness) to
perform at 100 percent.
NBA teams hopscotch across the continent from October through early
April, often playing three games in as many nights, each in a different sec-
tion of the country. Given the unbearable travel burden, one cannot.
reasonably ask an individual to operate at full throttle for 48 minutes each
night. It's physically impossible.
Once the regular season schedule grinds to a halt (just as the baseball
season begins), teams are granted one day- to rest and prepare for the
playoffs, which last for another month and a half. Under the revised playoff
system, 12 teams qualify for post-season play, a far cry better than the NHL
setup (16 of 22 teams make the hockey playoffs) but still too generous in ad-
mitting inferior ballclubs.
While many of the fans refuse to fork over their money until the playoffs, a
significant number of players probably adhere to a parallel
philosophy-conserve your energy until the games really count. It is more
than coincidence that the quality of NBA play improves dramatically-and
the intensity factor becomes important-once the playoffs get under way.
How to eliminate the intensity problem? Last week O'Brien publicly rejec-
ted the most apparent solution: shorten the season. In announcing his
decision to begin the 1981-82 season in November (so as to avoid conflicting
with the World Series), the commissioner said he had not given serious con-
sideration to shortening the regular season.
Whatever course of action O'Brien takes in the crucial years ahead, it is
hoped that he steers the league in the direction of dignity, quality, and class.
The NBA traveling circus-along with its troupe of courtside comics-have
no place in professional sports.
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