Sport: Beyond The Big Chill

In the glasnost era, the Goodwill Games lose some sizzle

Ever since it began after World War II, athletic competition between the U.S. and the Soviet bloc has served as a surrogate cold war. While the battles on the playing fields took place between individual performers or teams, the organizations that financed athletes and the crowds that cheered them on tended to trumpet each victory as a triumph for an entire economic and political system and to mourn any defeat as a boon to an iniquitous empire. Sports officials on both sides exploited the conflict to raise funds. The political overtones helped motivate athletes. Says swimmer Rowdy Gaines, who won three...