Small Towns Honor Athletic Namesakes

AT times, the public's desire to honor prominent local athletes knows no bounds - except maybe the city limits, where "Welcome to the home of ..." road signs are often erected. Now, however, some towns are going further by renaming themselves, and not even for native sons and daughters.

Take Ismay, Mont., for example, which up and decided to change its name to Joe, Montana, last month. Since the community has only 22 adult residents, it didn't exactly take an act of Congress to make the switch, done as a tribute to pro quarterback Joe Montana, a Pennsylvanian. Perhaps inspired by what Ismay has done, the city council in Troy, Texas, has renamed the community of roughly 2,000 residents Troy Aikman, in honor of the Dallas Cowboys quarterback who was last season's Super Bowl most valuable player. The change, like that in Ismay, will not be permanent, though. It's valid only through the National Football League's regular season, which ends Jan. 2, 1994. Star athletes draw a blank

Even the best athletes sometimes have glaring holes in their playing resumes. In team sports, this can be through no fault of the player. As a member of the also-ran Chicago Cubs, for example, Ernie Banks never appeared in the World Series.

In individual sports, the missing titles can be chalked up to any number of factors, but it all usually boils down to some form of incompatibility with the event. Bjorn Borg never won tennis's United States Open, despite capturing five straight Wimbledon singles titles, and in golf, Lee Trevino has never won the Masters.

This summer, several other golfing greats have added to their personal frustrations. Nancy Lopez, who is already in the Ladies Professional Golf Association Hall of Fame with 47 tour wins, came up empty again at the women's US Open last month. And over the weekend, Arnold Palmer missed the mid-tourney cut and Tom Watson finished fifth at the 75th PGA Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, four strokes behind Paul Azinger, who outdueled Greg Norman on the second hole of sudden death. Olympic cinematic chronicle gets a gold

What is missing from the just-released Olympic documentary, "Barcelona '92: 16 Days of Glory" by filmmaker Bud Greenspan, may be one of its hidden but most engaging qualities. The script is devoid of references to salaries, contracts, endorsements, and even the Dream Team, alias the National Basketball Association all-stars, who won the gold medal amid great media fanfare.

Greenspan has long been fascinated by the heroic human dramas that flavor the Olympics, and is not swayed by the merely popular images. Among the athletes on whom he trained his cameras during and after the Olympics were Estonian cyclist Erika Salumae, British sprinter Derek Redmond, American swimmer Pablo Morales, and Moroccan distance runner Khalid Skah.

The film had its world premiere on the Disney Channel Sunday, but will be repeated on Aug. 20 and 26 (when Disney will be offered to cable subscribers free as part of a fall promotion), and is tenatively scheduled to air Sept. 1 and 25. Touching other bases

* The prospective owners of a new National Football League expansion team in Baltimore are reconsidering a tentative decision to call the team the Rhinos. Fans in the city have expressed widespread disapproval of the name, which was chosen to meet the NFL's desire to nail down an identity that could be used if Baltimore were awarded a franchise. No team would take the field, however, until the 1995 season.

The choice of cities is expected to be announced in late October. St. Louis and Charlotte, N.C., are considered leading candidates. But Baltimore, which lost the Colts to Indianapolis in 1984, has come on strong.

* Sensing it wasn't really in contention, Brasilia withdrew its bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games last week, but reportedly will now shift its attention to 2004. The Olympics have never been held in South America; the closest they came was when Mexico hosted them in 1968. Consequently, if Brasilia or any other South American city can ever muster a sound bid, it may well succeed in landing the Games.

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