athletes. Coming up with such regulationsnis going to be dicey, because therenis not a worldwide definition of “professional.”nIt may be impossible to findna common ground. Financially-assistednforeign athletes may still be thought ofnas amateurs in their own countries,nespecially when compared to American-stylenpro basketball players. Even ifnthe IOC makes a ruling on whatnconstitutes a professional, ways to circumventnits limits will be surely found,njust as there are now ways aroundnadhering to the strict concept of amateurism.nInternational Olympic CommitteenPresident Juan Antonio Samaranch hasnbeen at the forefront of the attempt tonget each nation to send its best athletes,nregardless of how they make their income—nin other words, to get rid ofnthis already-eroding concept of “amateur”nathletes.nRepresentation of each country bynits best is a noble idea. But as far as thenUnited States is concerned, that is onlynthe first step. Professionalism in thenOlympics is as much a fiscal questionnas an ideological one, and the UnitednStates is at the crossroads. It can follownthe path much of the rest of the worldnhas chosen, paying athletes outright,ncovering training expenses or offeringnperformance incentives. Or it can holdnfast to the idea of sending only “amateur”nathletes. In that case we can’tncomplain about the medal count, becausenour “nonleague” athletes willnnot be able to compete with the privilegednrest of the world.nIf this country wants to do somethingnabout fostering athletics, therenare going to have to be some changesnmade.nWinning an Olympic medal is thenhighest athletic aspiration for most ofnthe sporting world. That is one of thenessential reasons foreign athletes receivenfinancial assistance. Emphasis innthe US is on basketball, baseball, football,nhockey, and tennis, because thosenare the sports where money can benmade. That is where the competitionnand training and opportunities are, andnthose sports do not need any help. Butnif the US is to compete on equalnfooting in the less glamourous (i.e.,nmost Olympic) sports, there has to ben”opportunity.” There has to be professionalism.nJames Michener has said that “then48/CHRONICLESncosts of becoming a top athlete in mostnfields have become so great that amateursncannot pay for them out of theirnown pockets.” But unlike the SovietnUnion or Eastern bloc nations, thenUnited States government would havena hard time justifying tax money goingnto talented, healthy athletes while therenare bigger problems at home. Similarly,nthe general public is not going tonfund — through attendance at events,npurchase of associated merchandise,netc. — a sport that does not play wellnon television, has no recognizable personalitiesnto promote, is not popularnwith a sizable number of Americans, orncannot be wagered upon.nWhat’s left is corporate sponsorship.nSome already exists. The Miller BrewingnCompany sponsors the US Olympicntraining center in ColoradonSprings. Miller has obviously made ansignificant financial commitment tonpresent and future Olympic athletes.nRather than providing this broad assistance,nperhaps companies such as Millernshould become sponsors of individualnAmerican teams, in association withneach sport’s governing body or federation.nYugo now “sponsors” the US men’snvolleyball team to an unknown degree.nPerhaps an agreement should be madenwith the federations by which athletesnare selected by the governing body,ngiven jobs by the team’s sponsor, andnhave training, living, and miscellaneousnexpenses paid for by the companies.nThe federation would haven”sport” control while the companiesnwould have financial control. The athletesncould also become spokesmen fornthe companies, appear at variousnevents, wear their companies’ logos onntheir uniforms, etc.nCorporate sponsorship is now a givennwith major sporting events. In casenyou haven’t checked, some of NewnYear’s Day’s biggest bowl games arenthe Sunkist Fiesta Bowl, the USF&CnSugar Bowl, the Mazda Gator Bowl,nand the John Hancock Sun Bowl.nThat’s the same sort of setup fromnwhich most of American sport couldnbenefit. It would not take as muchnmoney to support the US handballnteam as it does for, say. Gulf & Westernnto run the New York Knicks.nWouldn’t a company such asnMcDonald’s stand a lot to gain bynbeing the sole and complete financialnnnbacker of the US Olympic gymnasticsnteam? And wouldn’t US gymnastics asna whole benefit from an infusion ofnsupport?nOf course, if Americans are worriednabout their sports and teams beingnoverrun by corporations, or being taintednby the color of money and becomingntoo much like the Europeans, that’snfine, too. Just don’t complain about thenlack of American medals.nEd Markey is currently a publicist fornNBC sports. He worked on NBC’sncoverage of the Seoul Olympics andnABC’s coverage of the Los AngelesnOlympics.nLETTERSnOn Poetrynby Richard EberhartnPeople want to save their souls bynwriting poetry, or so they say.nShould we take that seriously? DidnSmart save his soul in the madhousenwriting all those lucid lines? Perhaps it’snenough to say that from primitive timesnthere has been a need for expression.nPoetry is older than prose. Poetry wasnthe morning cry when coming out ofnthe cave to see that the sun had arisennagain, a high song of joy in the treblenclef It was also the low sounds of griefnat the death of a child who had wanderednaway from the cave and beennkilled by an animal. Our early ancestorsnprobably knew the whole range of emotionsnfrom joy to sorrow, from lyric crynto threnody.nNowadays prose must outnumbernpoetry quantitatively nine to one. Millionsnof Americans get along from birthnto death without poetry—well, maybenthey read a poem in a newspaper, butnthey then forget it. Yet however mechanicalnour age becomes we have tondeal with prose all the time. We have tonread, if only traffic signs; we have to beninstructed; we have to give instructions.nThe prose of the day may be some kindnof computer language, part mathematics,npart English, as a Harvard Phi BetanKappa orator warned at a commencementnnot long ago; and it may be andangerous sign of possibly losing then