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One of the enduring legacies of the Atlanta Olympics will be the heightened attention afforded women's sports, particularly those team sports not thought of as traditional Olympic favorites -- basketball, softball and soccer. WATERSHED: USOC Exec Dir Dick Schultz: "It's a real watershed for women's athletics" (USA TODAY, 8/5). "It would be absurd to suggest that Olympic heroines are some kind of 1996 innovation," writes Wayne Coffey of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. "Still, there's no doubt the Atlanta Games catapulted women's sports to a new level of interest" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/6). The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER traces the growth of women's sports since Title IX was passed in '72 (Diane St. George, PHILA. INQUIRER, 8/7). TIME's Richard Zoglin calls the U.S. women's teams the "hottest acts" at the Games (TIME, 8/5 issue). The TAMPA TRIBUNE's Mick Elliott: "Never had women's athletics in the United States been presented such a stage, and it responded in appropriate style" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 8/5). The WASHINGTON TIMES' Tom Knott: "This was the Olympiad in which the U.S. women's teams punched through to a new level of mass acceptance with the American public" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/5). The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Bob Verdi: "My fellow fellows, we got our clocks cleaned. ...Women were everywhere in Atlanta, and honesty compels us to report that they excelled beyond all expectations" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/4). The S.F. CHRONICLE's Scott Ostler calls the U.S. women's basketball team "role models for hoopdom in general" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/7).
"No single endorsement superstar from the Games has sent consumers and marketers into a tizzy," according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Seven sports marketing "specialists" surveyed by USA TODAY gave their assessment on which U.S. athletes stand the best chance of cashing in on Olympic glory. GOLD: Michael Johnson (to be remembered for "infectious post- victory smile"). SILVER: Kerri Strug ("Time will tell whether Strug's a blip ... or if she's got staying power"). BRONZE: Dan O'Brien ("'World's Greatest Athlete' has a cachet all its own") (USA TODAY, 8/7). RUNNERS UP: Dot Richardson (As an M.D., could endorse "anything from Advil to Ben-Gay to Band-Aid"), Carl Lewis, Lisa Leslie, Amy Van Dyken. HONORABLE MENTION: Archer Justin Huish (Gen-X "poster boy"), Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Janet Evans ("sentimental favorites"), swimmers Tom Dolan and Gary Hall Jr. ("telegenic and talented ... [but] lost in the shuffle"), Dominique Moceanu ("Queen of Sydney"?), women's softball, basketball and soccer teams (exhibition tours), Muhammad Ali and Bela Karolyi ("likely to be paired with Strug in at least one ad campaign") (USA TODAY, 8/7). WHERE'S THIS YEAR'S CUT-OFF POINT? Advantage's Helen Broder: "One of the mistakes I think a lot of people make in talking to the athletes is saying 'You now have a gold medal. You're gonna be like Mary Lou Retton and you're gonna make millions and millions of dollars.' Well, it's true that some of the very top echelon can go into seven figures. As a whole, it's a select handful getting a high six figures and below that" ("CBS This Morning," 8/7).
ACOG COO A.D. Frazier predicted the Atlanta Games would turn "a slim profit." Frazier: "There's not going to be a big windfall for anyone, I'll tell you that right now. If there's anything at all, it's going to be very low numbers." The major remaining expense for ACOG is $30M to retrofit Olympic Stadium for use by the Braves (AP/ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/7)....NBC reports the Games were watched by 209 million viewers, the most of any event in TV history. NBC estimates that its coverage reached 91.7% of all U.S. TV households (NBC Sports)....Ray Flynn, one of the agents for 100-meter gold medalist Donovan Bailey, floated the idea of a 150-meter race against Michael Johnson. Flynn said they have not discussed the idea with Johnson's representatives (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/7)....Sponsor NationsBank has received criticism for its decision to program its ATM's at olympic venues to accept only NationsBank bank cards (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/7)....Fieldcrest Cannon Inc., an ACOG licensee, expects to absorb a loss on the millions invested in bedding products featuring the Olympic logo and mascot Izzy (Charlotte BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/5)....The Atlanta City Council held a second day of hearings from vendors upset with B.G. Swing Games Management, the city's Olympic marketer and vending licensor (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/7).