Bosnian Leaps of Faith
Set in the southwest corner of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the city of Mostar has endured more than its share of war casualties. Among them is Stari Most (Old Bridge), a splendid stone structure that spanned the Neretva River for 427 years before collapsing under Croatian shelling in November 1993.
Stari Most bestowed upon Mostar both its name and cultural heritage. Not only was it a symbol of unity in a multiethnic city, but it was also the jumping-off point of a fabled diving competition held every summer from 1566 to 1992. In '93 bloody battles between Mostar's Croats and Muslims forced suspension of the competition.
Until then, diving off the 65-foot-high bridge into the Neretva's cool olive waters had been an annual rite of passage. Young boys began training for what Mostarians called the "test of courage" at age seven, and as far back as 1664 a Turkish travel writer described the scene: "Local kids fly like birds through the air, each doing some kind of acrobatic."
On July 30, 1994, during a cease-fire in the divided city, Muslims in East Mostar set up a diving platform near the remains of the Old Bridge and held a competition. Some traditions never die: 15,000 spectators showed up. Though Croats refused to take part in the '94 diving and though renewed bombing wiped out the event entirely this summer, there is a strong movement to resurrect the tradition. Mostarians one day hope to rebuild the Old Bridge by hauling its remains piecemeal from the river and taking whatever additional stone may be needed from the same quarry that produced the original rocks in 1566.
At next year's Olympics in Atlanta, a Mostar diving club plans to sell postcards of its president, Emir Balic, 59, diving off the Old Bridge in 1960 and off the makeshift platform in '94. The old photo is black and white. The more recent, as Balic says, "is colored and light. It shows that human spirit is invincible."
A Fault, Too Late Corrected
There is no charity more important to the image of professional tennis than the Arthur Ashe AIDS endowment. Yet this year the USTA, which runs the U.S. Open, moved the endowment's clothing booth—the group's most profitable revenue source—outside the grounds so that a third car could be added to the display of Infiniti, an Open sponsor. "I have contractual obligations I have to live up to," says USTA president Les Snyder. "There were two [cars] last year, and our agreement calls for three. I had less square footage."
According to Henry Murray, one of the endowment's directors, the USTA presented the move as a positive one, suggesting that the booth would be part of a newly developed Tennis Town. But Tennis Town wasn't much: Only the Ashe booth and three others were set up on an out-of-the-way boardwalk. "You don't do that with Arthur Ashe," says Martina Navratilova. "The Open is huge for the endowment. I can't imagine they couldn't find a location inside."
Although Murray says the endowment objected to the move when it was proposed in June, and voices such as John McEnroe and Navratilova evinced their displeasure, Snyder claims he was unaware that the Ashe endowment was unhappy with its location until Day 10 of the 14-day event. Two days later a diminutive version of the booth was allowed inside the grounds for the final days of the tournament. But the damage was done: The endowment's fundraising was severely stunted—before the move sales were down about 75% from last year—and the USTA demonstrated how insensitive it can be.