A WORLD ELSEWHERE
Nat Fleischer, the rather crusty 79-year old editor of The Ring magazine, adamantly refuses to call Cassius Clay Muhammad Ali and has no use for his contention that he should be exempt from military service, but last week The Ring again designated Ali as world heavyweight champion. And Fleischer says it will continue to recognize Ali as such pending the outcome of his appeal. It is, Fleischer explains simply, the just and democratic thing to do.
Last April Ali was precipitously stripped of his title by both the World Boxing Association and the New York State Athletic Commission, and he has not fought since. This is not because he was subsequently convicted of a felony—there are no laws or regulations prohibiting someone who is out on appeal from fighting or, indeed, otherwise earning a living. He has not fought because the few commissions that don't belong to the WBA would not dream of being so unpatriotic as to sanction an Ali fight and Federal District Judge Joe Ingraham of Houston has ruled that Ali cannot leave the U.S. to fight in a country such as Japan.
We tend to forget that Ali is the world champion and that, as Coriolanus said, there is a world elsewhere. As Fleischer points out, The Ring has an international circulation and of the hundreds of letters he has received from all over the world, 90% have been in favor of the magazine's stand on Ali. The 10% that have expressed disapproval have been exclusively from the U.S. They have come largely from the South and Southwest.
Of course, Fleischer's position is almost absurdly idealistic, for the great probability is that it is only a matter of a few months until the intransigent Ali goes to jail and a new champion is crowned. Yet we applaud Fleischer, if for no other reason than that in an age in which what is just is increasingly overwhelmed by what is merely expedient, he has stuck to his guns.
Sixteen months ago, after losing a semifinal match at Wimbledon to Billie Jean King, Margaret Smith declared she was through playing competitive tennis. She retired to a nondescript suburb of Perth in Western Australia and opened a dress shop. Then last summer she became engaged to Barry Court, the son of the deputy premier of Western Australia, and seemed headed for a settled and fashionable life in Perth. Not so. Last week she had another surprise for her Australian tennis followers—she is planning a comeback. Her first tournament appearance will be in the New South Wales championships next month.
"When I retired from competitive play," she says, "I was fed up with tennis, but now things are different. In practice the ball looks as big as a football, whereas when I decided to retire it looked as small as a golf ball. I've not been so keen on tennis for years and I'm very fit." What Margaret is keenest on, no doubt, is the prospect of meeting and beating Billie Jean in the Australian championships in January.
When he appears in pro tournaments, Billy Casper represents a country club in Peacock Gap, Calif., and not long ago Terry Dill putted out, or in, for Mule-shoe, Texas. But next year, when a golfer named U Mya Aye makes his debut on the PGA circuit he will be playing for the Burmese government.
The military regime in Rangoon sent U Mya Aye to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. early this month to attend the PGA training school. It paid his tuition to the U.S. Treasury Department and sent along a military attaché, Colonel Kyi Han, to act as an interpreter—U Mya Aye's English consists of the body variety, plus "hello" and "good shot." He sat stone-faced through lectures on finance and public relations. But the State Department arranged for tapes of the seminars, and translations will be forwarded to U Mya Aye for study.
The 5'6", 124-pound pro understood enough, however, about the subtlety of the golf course to finish 24th in a field of 111 trainees in a 144-hole tournament, thereby qualifying along with players like Deane Beman, Bob Murphy, Bobby Cole, Tony Jacklin and Marty Fleckman for next year's U.S. tour.
And at the end of last week, Colonel Han revealed that U Mya Aye had learned to "handle a hamburger," which insures, one supposes, that he will not starve on the American tour.
BUG IN A BROADCAST
It was the fourth inning of the final game of the World Series. Carl Yastrzemski was at bat. Bob Gibson began his wind-up, delivered...and the television set at the Estrada bar in Santa Fe, N. Mex. went dead. The patrons were so angry they might have shot out the lights, only there weren't any—the electricity had failed throughout town. The only battery-powered radio handy, relatively speaking, was in Jerry Dorbin's Volkswagen, which was parked outside. The Estrada is on the second floor of a bowling alley, but Dorbin, undeterred, drove his car up the front steps, the patrons lifted it around a corner, and then maneuvered it up a 60-foot pedestrian ramp to the bar. The game broadcast was turned on. It was the top of the sixth, two on, Julian Javier at bat—one ball, two strikes...home run.
Once again it looks as if Mississippi has won an argument but lost a game to Bear Bryant. In 1946 the Rebels charged that Bryant, then head coach at Kentucky, had beaten them with an ineligible quarterback. Bryant said he had not. The Southeastern Conference later ruled that he had—but that did not alter the score, 20-6, or the fact that the quarterback had thrown two touchdown passes.
Now, films of Alabama's 21-7 win a fortnight ago over Mississippi show that one of Bryant's formations was a tackle-eligible, a type of play made illegal last January. According to the present rules the five interior linemen must wear numbers 50 through 79 to distinguish them from eligible pass receivers on the line, usually numbered in the 80s and 90s. In one of Alabama's formations only four players were numbered as interior linemen—the fifth, a tight end, wore No. 83—but the officials failed to notice this and so did Ole Miss until Coach Johnny Vaught and his staff looked at films of the game the next day.
Before using the formation, Alabama had been unable to move beyond mid-field against Mississippi. Then, after recovering a fumble on the Rebel 42-yard line, Alabama scored in four plays, using the illegal formation on three of them. "The ridiculous thing is that four plays earlier, from almost the same point on the field, Alabama could not move and had to give up the football," said Vaught.
The Bear insists he did not know he was doing anything wrong. "I am very sorry. I didn't know the formation was illegal," he declared. Replied Vaught: "I cannot accept that."
So the Alabama-Mississippi game goes on.
Every Olympics has its problems and disagreements, but the host for the 1968 Games in Mexico City is keeping cool and sunny. In a recent speech Dr. Josue Saenz, president of the Mexican National Olympic Committee, contrasted the attitudes of the participants: "The athletes are fighting for the prize. Spectators are looking for something spectacular. Politicians are using the Games to prove that one society is better than the others. The professional agitator is trying to set one race against another. So," concluded Dr. Saenz, "the Olympics has something for everyone."
GOD'S HELPING HAND
There are all kinds of alibis for a baseball team not getting into the World Series, but Mrs. D. J. Edmonson of Annandale, Minn. has come up with one for the failure of her beloved Twins that Minnesota's ballplayers never would have thought of. Mrs. Edmonson recently wrote to the editor of the Minneapolis Star: "I believe that God guides our destinies at all times and in all places. The Twins were virtually the best team in the American League. With a little help from God, the pennant would have been theirs. I don't believe it is a coincidence that they lost it the same year the State of Minnesota voted to sell liquor on Sunday."
God may have been nodding. Boston, whose Red Sox beat the Twins in the pennant race, has permitted Sunday liquor selling for a long time.
CHEWING ON A BIG WAD
For three years dentists at Case-Western Reserve, a college in Cleveland, have been doing research for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare on the "act of chewing." The studies have been limited mostly to methods of correct chewing, but the researchers say they believe that chewing greatly aids athletes by reducing muscular tension and giving them a sense of well-being. Dr. Theodore Messerman, who heads the project, would like to test his theory that big-league chewing—that done by, say, the Twins' Ted Uhlaender or the Yankees' Steve Hamilton—is a "neurotic activity." But by the time the research has advanced that far the doctor's wad may be expended. The government allocated only $142,798 for the project. So far, $71,000 has been chewed up.
College football coaches complain each year about the harassing noise of the partisan crowds they must face on the road, at such places as Notre Dame, LSU and Georgia Tech. As the game has become more complex, it is increasingly important that a quarterback's change of plays at the line of scrimmage not be drowned out by a roaring crowd.
"I think it is time we did something about the noise," said UCLA's Tommy Prothro after his Bruins just got by Penn State amid the din at University Park, Pa. "The rules say the officials can penalize the home team 15 yards, but I have seen it done in college football only once in my career."
When USC arrived at Notre Dame for its game with the Irish last weekend, it was the No. 1 team in the country in both polls, but the betting line had the Trojans as 12-point underdogs, largely because of the cheering in South Bend. "You can't hear anything in that stadium," USC Coach John McKay said prior to the game. "Sixty thousand people scream so loud you can't change a play at the line of scrimmage. Nobody can hear the signals. You've got to go with what has been called in the huddle. In effect, Notre Dame has a 12th man in the stands."
As it turned out, the problem did not materialize last week in Notre Dame Stadium. On the first play USC Quarterback Steve Sogge had trouble calling his signals. He appealed to the officials. They appealed to Notre Dame players, and the players, in turn, waved at the crowd to be quiet. The fans obeyed.
Nonetheless, Prothro is right. When the noise continues, it is time to strictly enforce the rule of penalizing the home team 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. As of now, the visiting team has only one sure cure for the noise problem. As Northwestern's Alex Agase put it: "Just get a couple of touchdowns ahead of the home team and see how much cheering there is."
Come to think of it, that helped USC at ND.
THEY SAID IT
•Norm Van Brocklin, former Minnesota Vikings coach: "There's no tougher way to make easy money than pro football."
•Wilt Chamberlain on Philadelphia Coach Alex Hannum's training sessions: "If I can miss five minutes of one of his practices, I feel like I am adding five years to my life."
•Glenn Dobbs, Tulsa football coach, after being criticized for running up a 58-0 score against Idaho State: "I have no apologies. I am not going to punt on first or second down."