City, county backing away from front of triathlon pack


Baltimore's seventh annual Bud Light Triathlon is history -- and there may not be an eighth.

What clouds the future of the event has nothing to do with the rains that made the course treacherous yesterday, causing numerous spills and injuries, as well as holding down the number of spectators.

In question is whether Baltimore City and Baltimore County still feel the event is worth the trouble and expense.

"There's a definite feeling away from special events in Baltimore City and Baltimore County," Bud Light Series coordinator Flo Bryan said at Rash Field shortly after the finish. "I'm not sure they feel it's worth the extra expense for things like police coverage."

It was touch-and-go almost to the last minute whether the two subdivisions would provide the coverage. Without it, there could have been no race. To get it, Bryan had to agree to pay "a lot of money."

"I don't think public officials here realize how much this event does for Baltimore," said Bryan, who was once a tennis pro at Bare Hills.

"In seven years here we've had 15,000 participants, most of them from out of town. Many come with their families and spend a lot of money. We filled two hotels this weekend.

"We've had national coverage. Three times we've had it on national TV. The Baltimore triathlon last year was voted the fifth best in the world. And still the officials here question whether it's worth it."

Someone suggested the event could be moved next year to Ocean City, but Bryan expressed other ideas.

"There are other cities vying to get in this series," she said. "In other cities, they pay us to come in and hold the event. They realize how

much good it does for them."

Even a switch to Ocean City would be a blow to Baltimore.

"This -- the Inner Harbor -- is the ideal setting for the event," said Jim Gardner, president of Winner Distributing, the local Budweiser affiliate. "It would be a shame to see it leave town."

"Cycles end," said a philosophical Lyn Brooks, the local event director. "This could be the end of the cycle."

As one who has seen all seven triathlons here, I say the event is VTC spectacular and worth keeping. For four hours on a June Sunday morning once a year, it brings excitement to Baltimore.

* Bud Hatfield, proprietor of the Valley Inn, asked a question at the triathlon that threw me for a loss.

"Howdcaldo?" he asked.


"Cal Ripken," explained Hatfield. "How'd he do last night?"

This is a question that's being asked often these days. It's likely to be the No. 1 question as long as the Orioles are languishing in or near last place.

The answer yesterday morning was that Aberdeen-born Cal had gone 0-for-3, dropped to .341 and lost his American League batting lead to an other native Marylander, St. Michael's Harold Baines, the .343-hitting DH for the Athletics.

Today finds Cal back atop the AL with a .350 average after going 6-for-11 yesterday.

* With the purse at $1 million, the best women golfers in the world, including the top 66 money-winners, are entered in the Mazda LPGA Championship this week at Bethesda Country Club. Even with a field like that, Baltimore's Tina Barrett has a chance to pick up a good-sized check. She's having her best year ever on the tour. Tina is No. 27 on the money list.

* Maryland Rep. Tom McMillen (D-4th) is correct when he says Americans need a better balance between athletics and academics in their schools. McMillen, a former Rhodes Scholar, has proposed legislation that would provide a 10 percent increase in federal chapter 1 funding to any school district requiring students to maintain a 2.0 (C) average to participate in extracurricular activities.

"Our obsession with sports," says the former NBA player, "sends a signal to our kids that we are more concerned about young people's brawn power than brain power. At every grade level, students should be instilled with the concept that, while athletics is important, the reason you're in school is to learn."

Everyone agrees with that in the abstract. In actual practice the outcry over such things can be uproarious.

Boyce Mosely, principal of Northwestern High, once invited parents to come to school to make suggestions. Poor turnout. He invited them to come and hear how to prepare their children for college. A worse turnout. When Mosely proposed that interscholastic sports be discontinued until students could pass reading and writing, irate parents packed the assembly hall to protest.

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