FIX THE FIX LAWS
A few weeks ago we suggested (SI, Jan. 22) that bribery in sport ought to be a felony everywhere, instead of a misdemeanor in some states and a felony in others. Just how stupidly diverse the law is with respect to bribery was revealed last week by Wilbur N. Stalcup, University of Missouri basketball coach and president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
A while back he ordered a survey of bribery law, and now he has sent the results to NABC members with a recommendation that they press for strong legislation in states that either have no laws against bribery in sport, or weak laws.
Stalcup discovered that 16 states and territories have no law at all on sports bribery. These are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, the Virgin Islands and Wyoming. In Iowa it is illegal to bribe an athlete but quite legal for the athlete to accept the bribe.
In Illinois and Minnesota an athlete who takes a bribe is barred from organized sport for life. Indiana is less severe on amateurs than on professionals.
Almost invariably, Stalcup found, specific abuses have been necessary to stir the legislatures into adopting more stringent laws. After the Black Sox scandal in 1919, states began passing athletic bribery laws, but most of them related only to baseball. After 1941 investigations revealed corruption in horse racing, several states broadened their statutes to include sports other than baseball. And after the 1951 basketball scandals, some states took cognizance of point-shaving and made it illegal.
Wilbur Stalcup has done a fine job for his sport. We hope his NABC members complete the work by appealing to their state legislatures for action.
JFK AND THE DODGERS
We learned the other day of a nonpolitical meeting in Brooklyn some 15 years ago that could have changed history. The lead characters in the session were Branch Rickey and Walter O'Malley of the Dodgers and Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy.
"Back in 1947." explains O'Malley, "Branch Rickey [then president of the Dodgers] began negotiating with Joseph Kennedy to sell him stock in the Dodgers. Kennedy said he was looking for an interesting activity for his son, who had been wounded in service and wanted to get started in something. The idea was that if Kennedy bought the club, his son John could be president and Rickey could stay on as general manager." As things turned out, the deal never went through because Joseph Kennedy thought the nation was headed for troubled times and the investment would not be sound.
We're happy, though, that Joe's son John did get started in something interesting.
THE LONG VIEW
Many a fight promoter has labeled and sold "ringside" tickets that required field glasses for a proper view. Not so outrageously avaricious, but just a bit crafty, nonetheless, is the decision of the Houston National League baseball club to have dugouts 75 feet long in its new stadium. That's about twice the length of most big-league benches.
"Everyone wants a box seat behind the first-or third-base dugout," explained a very frank club official. "So why not long dugouts, and we sell more box seats?"
The world amateur hockey championships, to be held at Colorado Springs next month, have been sadly diminished in stature by the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in protest against the refusal of NATO's allied travel council to grant visas to the East German hockey team. Eighteen countries were to have competed. The number is now reduced to 16 and there is expectation that the Czechs, Romanians and Yugoslavs will follow their spiritual leader into voluntary exile.
Our normal reaction would be to damn NATO's travel council and protest that sport is above politics, that it improves relationships between peoples and that the NATO decision is counter to the spirit of the Olympics and all amateur sport. All of which is true enough, but these are harsh times. If the East Germans and the Russians are bumping their heads against a wall, it is one that they built themselves.
A CHUCKLE FOR WILL
When Olympian Earl Young, competing in his 400-yard specialty, wobbled across the finish line like a man carrying a piano up a flight of stairs, spectators at the Will Rogers Indoor Games at Fort Worth thought something was peculiar. Something was.
Seconds later, when official timers examined their watches, they knew they had invented a new event: the 576-yard run. Young, ace of the Abilene Christian College team, had set a record that will stand at least until track officials goof again. He did the 576 in 1:10.4. The runners had gone one too many laps on the 176-yard dirt oval because meet officials forgot to extend the string across the finish line at the proper time.
Will Rogers would have thought of something funny to say about the incident but not one of the officials could.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•The American Football League's antitrust suit ($10 million) against the National Football League will most likely be an oft-delayed and appealed affair, with the NFL finally making an out-of-court settlement. The AFL might well settle for a play-off game with the NFL or a common draft setup.
•After a dismal fling at professional boxing, Shotputter Bill Nieder has applied to the AAU for reinstatement as an amateur athlete and hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.
•Sale and switch of the Philadelphia Warriors to San Francisco seems all but consummated, an NBA move that would be worth at least $100,000 to that natural San Francisco rival, the Los Angeles Lakers.
MR. CLIFF'S ANGER
Last year at least two dozen fans were killed or seriously injured in arguments about soccer. But now there may be a trend away from mayhem. Cyrill Cliff, fierce supporter of Britain's Stoke City team, resented it very much when his team lost to the Blackburn Rovers on a disputed penalty kick. He ranted and raved. But he did not punch Referee Harry Webb on the nose. Instead, he filed suit against him.
Ah, but even so, Soccer Player Desmond Eaton of Netherseal upheld the older traditions of soccer by knocking out Referee John Overton, breaking his jaw, and quitting soccer for good.
THE GREAT LAND AND HORSE GRAB
For almost two decades Mexico's Brigadier General Humberto Mariles was a star performer in international jumping, winning an Olympic gold medal and many other trophies for Mexico. But for the last 10 years he has also played a leading role in a feuding drama with his government. When army and political rivals managed to disband his military jumping team, Mariles converted the government-owned establishment where they trained into Mexico's leading riding academy for civilian horsemen.
Last week, in a shocking manner, this chapter of the general's equestrian career was terminated. As children and parents gathered at the academy for an after-school riding session, they were surprised by 100 soldiers with rifles and fixed bayonets. The soldiers herded everybody into a building, and divided up the cash on hand. The buildings were methodically sacked. Curtains and pictures were torn from the walls. All trophies and the head of Arete (the horse on which Mariles won the Olympic gold medal in 1948) were tossed into army vans and driven away, along with 187 fine horses. The general himself was detained at gunpoint and threatened with death.
Certainly the government had the right to reclaim the now valuable land on which the dormitories, offices and stables of the academy stood. But international sportsmen as well as other Mariles partisans are outraged by the brutal manner in which the eviction was carried out.
The game fishermen of western Washington have utilized restraint, loving care and their own money to wet-nurse the steelhead back to piscatorial prominence in the rivers of Skagit County. The steel-head fairly leap from the waters of the Skogstic and the Quinault, the Samish and the Klickitat. Into these waters last month moved the Upper Skagit Indians, whose eye for steelhead (at 20¢ a pound wholesale) is every bit as sharp as the white man's but whose interest in conservation is a good deal duller.
Armed with nylon gill nets and drift nets and a court order issued in May 1961 that gives them the run of their "usual and accustomed" happy fishing grounds, the Indians descended on the unsuspecting steelhead, day in and day out, and en masse. It was, quoth a white conservative, a massacre.
One 87-year-old tribesman, who calls himself John Jones, was in on the raid, and still is. Thirty years ago John Jones was fined by the state game department for netting steelhead in the Skagit. This time, by order of the court, no white man could legally stop him. At last count, Jones had netted 108 steelhead, selling, he said, "to Indians," since Washington law forbids the sale of the fish to whites. In recognition of his talents, someone slashed old John's $100 net. Undaunted, he bought a new one. At another spot his son hauled in 31 steelhead in three days, or about five seasons' take for a hook-and-line fisherman. Tribesman Alex Boome got 33. Last week a slashed gill net (not unlike a ragged scalp) was found tacked to the outside of the town hall with the inscription, "Let's fix them all this way."
Complaints poured in. Protests were filed. But nothing stemmed the red tide. Larger movements were reported. The Mucklshoot tribe was said to be preparing to press into the Green River. They came on and on. Like homesteaders. It was not justice, perhaps, but it was poetic.
Graduates of the Bear Bryant School of Hard Knocks, comprising those who have played football under The Bear at Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A&M or Alabama, have been compared to survivors of the Battle of the Bulge and are similarly bound together by ties that can never be annulled. They are like those hardy men who have gone through the Rat Year at Virginia Military Institute—Brother Rats forever.
More than 90 alumni of the BBSHK are now out in the world, preaching the Bryant football doctrine to the young at an equal number of schools. "Ah think we counted 92 the other day who are out coaching," Bryant drawled last week. "Scattered all over. We gonna get 'em all together and have us a little closed clinic amongst ourselves."
So, on June 9, the Bryant boys will hold their first annual meeting at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, present headquarters of their Leader. The Leader will pick up the tab.
"They'll bring their wives and we'll just have a big time," said the 49-year-old coach. "We'll just chew the fat. Ah figure if there's anything new in football, some of us ought to know something about it."
THEY SAID IT
•David Clark, Olympic pole-vaulter, announcing that he had bought a fiberglass pole: "I decided to quit crying about it and buy one."
•Gene Autry, part owner of the Los Angeles Angels baseball club, when asked about the Angels' schedule in "Dodger Stadium": "I don't know where that is. Whoever heard of Dodger Stadium? Everybody knows about Chavez Ravine."
•Hayden Fry, SMU's new football coach, addressing a luncheon of SMU fans: "I'm the oratorical equivalent of a blocked punt."
•Shelby Metcalf, assistant coach, explaining the departure of a Texas A&M basketball player: "He came here when he heard A&M was an engineering school. But when he found they wouldn't let him drive a train he quit."
•Joe Linsalata, American League umpire, on the life of umpires on the road: "We have friends, just like other people. Of course, you can't fraternize with ballplayers. But who wants to fraternize with ballplayers?"
•Bones McKinney, Wake Forest basketball coach, evaluating the strength of his center, 6-foot-8-inch Len Chappell. who weighs 240 pounds and scored 37 points against Duke: "He was so strong in the last 10 minutes it was unbelievable. I believe the hair of his arms would knock you down."