The case of the New York Athletic Club and its discriminatory membership policies is neither isolated nor unusual. A survey of 20 major cities in the U.S. shows that only one ranking athletic club has Negro members—the Washington (D.C.) AC—and most clubs have only token numbers of Jews. Where the attitude toward Jews is a little more liberal, there is a feeling that they should not "get out of proportion." One mid-western club admits Jews only if they join a Protestant church. In Salt Lake City much Jewish acceptance is based on economics. Clubs have found their Jewish members spend more money on the premises than other members.
The decline of athletic clubs—such as The Olympic Club in San Francisco, which once sponsored sports figures like James J. Corbett and National Tennis Champion Art Larsen—is traceable to racial attitudes. Until last month Olympic's bylaws limited membership to "white male citizens." The club's sponsorship of athletes began to wane after World War II. No Negro and only a few Jews ever competed for Olympic. The Santa Clara Youth Village track team was formed in 1952 as a protest to The Olympic Club's policy, and Olympic gradually dropped track and many other sports. Its wrestlers have been reluctant to compete against armed services' teams that include Negroes. Though the club has now removed all bars to membership, its real test is yet to come, for it has a 2½-year waiting list.
The Los Angeles Athletic Club refuses to give any information about its membership. But it is perhaps significant that it ceased sponsorship of track-and-field teams about the time that the Santa Clara team came into existence in San Francisco and a thoroughly integrated group, the Southern California Striders, was formed in Los Angeles.
In St. Louis the Missouri Athletic Club currently is voting on a proposal to remove the word "white" from the club's bylaws. It appears in at least 10 places in the constitution.
The exclusion of individuals from sports clubs for racial reasons has become more and more obvious. In Detroit, after a recent press conference held at a Detroit club, a Negro TV reporter was ushered out through a back door. The Detroit Yacht Club has stopped handing out complimentary membership cards freely to the press and officials in the city government as these segments of society have become increasingly integrated.
The NYAC, boycotted and under siege, may be getting the headlines, but its policies are hardly unique.
When Jean-Claude Killy posed with his collection of gold medals at Grenoble for Paris Match (page 22)—the photographs are now Exhibit A in the prosecution's case to convict him of professionalism—he was wearing a sheepskin coat acquired from a member of the Polish Olympic team. And last week while Killy's alleged wheeling (a Porsche) and dealing (with magazines and ski-equipment manufacturers) were being scrutinized by the International Ski Federation, authorities in Warsaw were dressing down their own Olympic athletes.
The Poles, who did not win a medal at the Games, had managed, it seems, to take a little gold home anyway by selling their team jackets, which were made of lambskin and handstitched with red-and-green highlander's ornaments. The coats brought $200 apiece in Grenoble. Outraged by this apr√®s-ski occupation, Polish officials demanded that legal action be taken against the team for disposing of "state property." The Warsaw daily Zycie Warszawy declared, "Our athletes proved better tradesmen than sportsmen." But the newspaper's readers were evidently delighted by the capitalistic escapade. "In Polish winter resorts we always buy equipment from visiting Western skiers," said one of the many letters to the editor. "It is a pleasure to know that for once someone bought something from us."
The Polish team did bring home one prize from Grenoble, a cup for the best appearance and conduct, which led one Warsaw wag to remark, " 'They were too busy trading to misbehave."
TIES THAT BIND
If Atlanta Falcon Coach Norb Hecker has anything to say about it—and he intends to at the National Football League meeting in Atlanta later this spring—regular-season games will not be allowed to end in ties. Hecker points out that the Falcons' one victory last season would have won them the league championship if they had managed to tie the other 13 games they played. "It is ridiculous," he says. "You could win one and tie 13 in the NFL and beat out a team with a 13-1 record, because ties don't count. You'd have a perfect won-lost percentage of 1.000."
Hecker even has a plan that could prevent a lot of tie games. He suggests giving one point for a field goal made from the goal to the 10-yard line, two points from the 10 to the 20, three points from the 20 to the 30, four from the 30 to the 40, five from the 40 to the 50 and six points from beyond the 50.
Hecker thinks this would create interesting strategical decisions. "Say you're three points behind on an opponent's 29-yard line," he explains. "You can kick from there and go for a tie, or you can take a penalty, drop back five yards and kick for four points and a lead. Now the other side would also have a decision to make. Would they refuse the penalty or not?"
The Falcons will ask the league to test the proposals in exhibition games.
Americans tend to regard the Boston Marathon as a ludicrous exercise engaged in each April by some 700 runners who don't appreciate the proper joys of spring. But by European standards Boston's race is a minuscule event for the infirm, and the loneliness of the long-distance runner is fiction. For example, two Saturdays ago a field of 1,698 took part in the English Cross-country Championship, an event laid out across plowed fields, fences and streams. The winner covered the nine-mile distance in 43 minutes and 55 seconds, which was just 29 minutes faster than the 856th finisher. Only 104 participants failed to complete the course.
On the following day, in S√§len, Sweden, the world's longest ski race—50 miles—drew 7,887 starters, and 7,705 of them finished. The winner's time was seven hours and 33 minutes, and 2,145 of the skiers took less than 11 hours to complete the course.
Arise, Americans, and get on the move.
YOURS TRULY, TOMMY
The arrival of warm weather at the Doral Open brought out Tommy Bolt, with his 49-year-old aches and pains, his picture swing and his classic disposition.
But after an erratic nine holes the first day Tommy packed up. He left the clubhouse with his arms full of golf clubs, practice balls and shoes. On the way to his car a lady asked for an autograph. Bolt's complexion turned deep purple, his lips pursed and his blue eyes glared. "Which arm do you think I should use to sign with, ma'am?" he asked. The lady mumbled some indistinct reply, and Tommy snorted: "What do you expect me to do, throw everything down so I can sign your book?" With that, he dropped clubs, practice balls and shoes—scattering them in all directions—autographed the lady's program and roared, "You know, I pay my own way around here. I don't owe you nuthin'."
At their meetings in Mexico City last November baseball officials said they would enforce the 20-second rule between pitches in order to speed up the game. Now there is a suggestion that the majors use an electric timer, somewhat like pro basketball. A buzzer would sound at the end of 20 seconds. If the batter was not in the box, he would be fined one strike, and if the pitcher had not started his pitching motion, he would be penalized a ball. The main advocate of the timer is Ray Dumont, president of the National Baseball Congress, who says his organization has used it successfully at tournaments for the last five years.
Neither Joe Cronin nor Warren Giles is particularly impressed. "I'm not much for mechanical devices in baseball," says Giles. "They remove the personality of the game. I don't think the 20-second rule is going to be noticeable in speeding up the game, but it may help. We have asked umpires to acquaint themselves with what 20 seconds amounts to, but they will not be given stopwatches."
We know exactly what 20 seconds amounts to: one scowl at the catcher, two inspections of centerfield, seven tugs at the cap, four lickings of the finger tips and, at last...
Who needs a timer?
A few weeks ago in an upstairs room of a pub in Wheaton-Aston, England, the Staffordshire Poachers' Union held its annual dinner. As was only fitting for such an occasion, the fare—pheasant and rabbit—had been poached from nearby estates. Though the union's very existence, let alone its activities, is regarded by authorities as a conspiracy against the Crown, it has flourished secretly for seven years. Annual dues provide a fund that is used to pay the court fines of members who are caught and prosecuted. The members pool all their killings, and if one of them becomes ill the union gives financial assistance and sees to it that he has plenty of food—pheasant, partridge, trout and the like.
The group was formed when poachers from other districts began coming into Staffordshire. "We know the tricks of the trade and figured it was high time we had an organization to protect our common interests," the chairman of the union explains. "We only take what we consider to be our fair share of the good things of life."
When you're a loser, things take on unusual proportions. There is, for instance, the case of Arizona State Basketball Coach Ned Wulk, whose team was 11-17 for the season. At a recent game in Laramie, Wyo., a fan threw an object that hit Wulk on his bald spot. Wyoming officials said it was a peanut. Wulk retorted, "It hurt more than a peanut—and besides, it didn't feel salty."
Mexico City is a hot football town? Apparently so. The Dallas Cowboy games were carried on local TV for the first time last year, and by the end of the season as many people were watching Cowboy games as televised soccer.
Quite naturally, Dallas has become the home-town favorite, and there were numerous fist fights in Mexico City over the outcome of the NFL Championship Game. A professor of ancient history at-the University of Mexico, who was watching the game with a group of his colleagues, was knocked out when he made the mistake of whooping with pleasure when Green Bay's Bart Starr scored the winning touchdown.
Nineteen NFL games, the majority of them Cowboy contests, will be shown in Mexico City next season, and in August Detroit and Philadelphia will play an exhibition game there, the first NFL football match ever to be held outside the U.S. A sellout crowd of more than 100,000 is expected.
A few weeks ago Cowboy General Manager Tex Schramm visited Mexico City with some of the Dallas team. "There won't be any more talk about expansion franchises until 1970," he said. "But you can be sure that when the time comes I'll actively encourage a franchise for Mexico."
THEY SAID IT
•Jack McCloskey, Wake Forest basketball coach, after his team lost to St. Joseph's of Philadelphia: "I don't mind when we play a Catholic school and the referee is Catholic, but when the game is on Ash Wednesday and the ref shows up with a smudge on his forehead I know I'm in trouble."
•Louis (Red) Klotz, owner and player-coach of the team that has played exhibitions against the Harlem Globetrotters for the past 17 years (its record in the series—three wins, 3,492 losses): "I have never told one of my players not to score. I only advise them not to try and be wise guys."