SPORTS CALENDAR

October 1

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE'S SCHEDULED SEASON OPENING

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman may delay the start of the league's 78th season if no progress is made in labor contract talks. A decision on a player lockout is expected today, following a dispute over a collective bargaining agreement that players say involves a form of a salary cap. Many observers say a disruption would be a big mistake given the league's growing popularity.

October 1-8

VOLLEYBALL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (MEN'S)

Russia, Brazil, defending champion Italy, and Cuba are the favorites among a 16-team field for this quadrennial competition, being held at various sites in Greece.

October 2

MIAMI VS. CINCINNATI (PRO FOOTBALL)

For the first time in the National Football League's 75-year history, a father, Miami's Don Shula, will coach against his son, Cincinnati's Dave Shula. The senior Shula is the league's all-time winningest coach, with 330 victories. The game pits the 3-1 Dolphins against the 0-4 Bengals in Cincinnati.

October 10-16

WORLD ARTISTIC ROLLER SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The United States and Italy should be big winners in Salsomaggiore, Italy, host to the 39th championships. Roller skaters are probably better able to execute jump combinations than ice skaters, who can do more spins per jump.

October 15

IRONMAN TRIATHLON

Competitors begin off the coast of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, with a 2.4-mile ocean swim, then cycle 112 miles, and finish with a full 26.2-mile marathon run.

October 17

WOMEN'S SPORTS FOUNDATION AWARDS BANQUET

The organization that champions women's participation at all levels of sports holds its 15th annual dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

October 21-23

SOLHEIM CUP (WOMEN'S GOLF)

Biennial team competition tees off at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The Europeans upset the United States in 1992, after the US won the inaugural match-play competition.

October 23

HEAD OF THE CHARLES REGATTA, 30TH ANNUAL

More than 4,500 rowers are expected for the Boston-based event that caps the fall rowing season and is the world's largest single-day rowing competition. Crowds traditionally line the Charles River to watch an international line-up of club, school, and university crews, as well as single and double scullers, tackle the 3-mile course.

October 27-30

SKATE AMERICA INTERNATIONAL

This traveling event helps kick off the figure skating season in the US each year. Some of the skaters competing in Pittsburgh have already emerged as early 1998 Olympic medal hopefuls, such as California's Michelle Kwan, 14, the reigning world junior champion.

Oct. 28-Nov. 5

INTERNATIONAL AMERICA'S CUP CLASS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

San Diego event brings together many boats expected to vie in next year's America's Cup races. America3, sailed by an all-female crew that competes in US cup trials in January, will be watched.

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