BEFORE the World Cup soccer tournament began, the sport's international governing body had all players sign a ``Fair Play Declaration.'' This doesn't ensure sporting behavior - yellow warning cards are being issued at a record pace - but it does put the players on notice about what the standards are and implies that they are important.
In like manner, the Ohio Valley Conference has created a league sportsmanship statement that has met with the approval of member college presidents, athletic administrators, and coaches. ``The statement may not be perfect, but it is a start,'' says Steve Hamilton, director of athletics at Morehead (Ky.) State University. Game officials will notify coaches and team captains before play begins that principles of good sportsmanship will be enforced without warning. Football family may be thrown for a loss
EIGHT-year-old Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami may eventually assume a new corporate identity under Wayne Huizenga, the video mogul and sports-empire builder (he owns baseball's Florida Marlins, hockey's Florida Panthers, and now football's Miami Dolphins). Huizenga recently completed the purchase of the Dolphins and the stadium they play in from the heirs of the late Joe Robbie.
Family members would like to forestall a stadium name change as long as possible, and for good reason. The stadium honors Robbie, who was the guiding force behind the Dolphins since the team was founded in 1966 until his passing in 1990. Robbie built the stadium without public funds.
The trend, at least in indoor arenas, is to sell naming rights to major corporations. To wit, three arenas owe their names to airlines: USAir Arena in Landover, Md.; America West Arena in Phoenix; and the soon-to-be-opened United Center in Chicago.
Huizenga has said he would not rename Joe Robbie Stadium after himself, but some observers speculate that he may sell the naming rights, perhaps to Blockbuster Entertainment, the company Huizenga heads. Since the stadium will host next January's Super Bowl, a strong incentive exists to rename the facility before then, since any corporation would benefit from the exposure the Super Bowl affords.
The Robbie family needed to sell some of its holdings in order to pay off a $47 million estate-tax debt in Joe Robbie's name. Touching other bases
* Sweden must like the concept of shootouts to break ties. At the Winter Olympics in Norway, the Swedes won the ice hockey gold medal in a sudden-death penalty-shot shootout with Canada that followed the regulation game, a 10-minute overtime period, and even a five-shots-per-side shootout. Then, on Sunday in Palo Alto, Calif., Sweden's World Cup soccer team prevailed in like fashion, defeating Romania in quarterfinal play in a roulette-style extra overtime in which players from each team alternately took penalty kicks from virtually point-blank range. (See photo, right.)
* In tennis, there are few better doubles teams than the Woodies - Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge. They just defended their Wimbledon title. Woodbridge also collected Wimbledon's mixed doubles title, playing with Helena Sukova of the Czech Republic. The Woodies joined forces full time three years ago and have surpassed $1 million in combined doubles prize money. Woodforde's first Grand Slam doubles title came at the 1989 US Open, when he and John McEnroe were partners. Before that, Woodbridge served notice that he was an emerging doubles talent by winning junior doubles titles at the Australian, French, and Wimbledon championships in 1988.
* One of the beauties of soccer, evident during the World Cup, is that coaches pretty much become spectators during the games. This is a welcome switch for American sports fans, who may grow tired of seeing coaches and managers try to control every aspect of the action.
* To set a world record in the 100 meters, a sprinter must be first out of the blocks, right? Not based on Leroy Burrell's race last week in Lausanne, Switzerland, in which he didn't appear to take the lead until about halfway down the track. Burrell was clocked at 9.85 seconds to shave one-hundredth of a second from Carl Lewis's world record, set in 1991. Ironically, Lewis and Olympic champion Linford Christie passed up the Lausanne race, reportedly because of a dispute over appearance fees.
* What United States president was just made a baseball hall of famer? A hint: He was inducted into the Maine Baseball of Fame. That will tip off many people that George Bush, who summers in Maine, is the honoree. It's widely known that Bush played college ball at Yale. Few, however, realize he played summer ball in Maine for the Kennebunk Collegians. Of late, his interests have been in World Cup soccer. He showed up for several games at Foxboro, Mass., recently.
* When the World Cup soccer tournament is next held in France in 1998, one desirable change would be to eliminate the consolation game. Determining the third- and fourth-place finishers can't be that important. And no team that has come so far in the tournament deserves to be sent home with back-to-back losses.