In the final stages of the World Cup soccer tournament, the hopes of the entire Western Hemisphere reside on the shoulders, and talented instep, of just one player, the brilliant Diego Maradona. Maradona has carried the Argentine team into Wednesday's semifinal game against Belgium, and he needs to sustain the effort for the home-continent advantage to be realized. France and West Germany meet in the other semifinal, giving Europe a clear-cut numerical advantage in the quest for the coveted Jules Rimet Trophy.
In the 12 previous World Cups, all but one championship team hailed from the same continent as the host nation, which in this case is Mexico. The only exception occurred in 1958, when Brazil, led by the 17-year-old Pel'e, won in Stockholm.
Maradona has been compared to Pel'e, and anyone who tuned in Sunday to watch Argentina's 2-1 victory over England knows why. The compact 5 ft. 5 in. forward was a whirlwind of fancy footwork, explosive bursts, and inventive playmaking. He also happened to score both his team's goals, one on a disputed header that appeared to be punched with his hand and the other on a dazzling piece of open-field offense. The second goal was instantly called the most spectacular of the tournament and one of the best ever.
Maradona took the ball at midfield, eluded a handful of English defenders with some magnificent dribbling, and finally sidestepped goalie Peter Shilton to launch a shot into the net.
Argentina advanced to the semifinals in the only regulation-length game. Belgium, France, and West Germany all needed shoot-outs, which commence after the score is still tied after 30 minutes of overtime. West Germany beat Mexico 4-1; France beat Brazil 4-3 on the final one-on-one penalty kick of a shoot-out; and Belgium netted all fiveour of its penalty kicks to defeat Spain, 5-4. Bo Jackson's surprising decision
When Bo Jackson picked up the Heisman Trophy as the nation's best college football player last year, reporters wondered which sport -- football or baseball -- he'd pursue after his career at Auburn. ``I'll play ball,'' came his noncommittal answer. Most observers felt he would select pro football, especially given the $7 million, five-year offer the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly made to the National Football League's top overall draft pick. Jackson surprised people, though, by signing with the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals, who will assign him to one of their top farm clubs in the next few weeks. Bo may not make nearly as much money right away playing baseball, his first love. But over the course of what he anticipates might be a longer and less physically taxing diamond career, Jackson should be paid handsomely, especially if he improves his ability to hit a curveball. The long-ball power is already there, as he demonstrated by slugging a 450-foot shot during a batting practice at Royals Stadium. America's new rowing capital
Strange as it seems, the United States has never had a permanent internationally certified rowing course. The first is being readied for the 110th National Championship Regatta for Men and Junior Men, which begins Wednesday in Indianapolis and runs through Sunday.
The course, built at Eagle Creek Reservoir, required a considerable amount of dredging to create what amounts to a 2,000-meter, flat-bottomed pool, with six buoyed lanes.
Construction of the Eagle Creek course helped entice the US Rowing Association, the sport's national governing body, to move from Philadelphia to Indianapolis a year ago. The organization had been in Philadelphia since the 1800s, but it found Indianapolis's central location, the city's efforts to become an amateur sports capital, and local corporate support very alluring.
Indianapolis has never been known as a rowing community. Only one small club existed there before the rowing association arrived. Now there are three, but college crew has yet to emerge.
Interest is expected to grow on all fronts, however, as exposure to major rowing competitions increases. And several are scheduled, including a combined men's and women's national championship during the next two years. Indianapolis, which is hosting the 1987 Pan American Games, also plans to bid for the 1993 World Rowing Championships, an event that has never been held in the United States.