SHOULD PROS BE ALLOWED TO COMPETE IN OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATING?
"The recent profusion of professional and amateur
competitions, pro-ams, exhibitions and made-for-TV events has
thrown figure skating into chaos." The Int'l Skating Union (ISU)
allows skaters to make millions as pros, then lets them return to
amateur status. "Everyone's confused over who's eligible for
what. Which is why pressure is growing on the ISU to end the
hypocrisy and open the Olympics to everyone in 1998." Skater
Paul Wylie: "The line is pretty bogus between pro and amateur.
In the end, the best scenario for skating is to open it up." For
example, Oksana Baiul has turned pro, but wants to defend her
Olympic gold. She can make as much money as she wants as long as
she declares amateur status by next April (John Powers, BOSTON
GLOBE, 11/27). In New York, Jere Longman examines the skating
world: "If this dizzying expansion has meant money for skaters
and promoters, ratings for the networks and viewing opportunity
for fans, it has also resulted in a byzantine, contradictory and
confusing jumble of rules and eligibility requirements" (N.Y.
WRESTLING ON ICE? U.S. Figure Skating Association President
Claire Ferguson -- who is a member of the ISU -- calls pro
competitions (such as CBS' recent "Ice Wars") "bogus" because
they lack uniform rules. "Without these controls, she said,
figure skating could lose its legitimacy as a sport and devolve
into theater, as professional wrestling has done." Ferguson
believes the threat will fade "once the current set of champions"
such as Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt retire from competitive
skating or once TV audiences "wearied" of seeing essentially the
same performances week after week (N.Y. TIMES, 11/27).