A WORD FOR THE BETTER
The present fight for control of professional golf is demeaning the sport. Though the issues tend to dissolve into a muddle of initials—PGA and APG and IGSA—a confusion of committees and a profusion of public charges, they can be easily summarized. There are no principles at stake. The issues are money and power.
On page 30 Jack Nicklaus ably states the case for the players and why they feel a break with the PGA is in their best interest. The players' feelings are understandable. Equally easy to appreciate is why the PGA is determined to keep control of the tour—and some $439,000 now in the PGA's tournament-expense fund.
But there is one interested party nobody seems to care about—the spectator who follows pro golf, likes it, perhaps even cherishes it a little. In all the thousands of words spoken in the last few weeks by the PGA and the players, there has been not one sentence to the effect that if we have control we'll run a better tour, we'll guarantee the appearance of big names, we'll build the international aspect of the game, we'll help the sport of golf. The total motivation in the PGA-player controversy has been complete self-interest. The more this becomes apparent to the golf fan, the less he is going to feel like applauding or identifying with all those bright young men making $50,000 a year or so. All concerned would do well to remember that.
OUT FOR BLOOD
There are any number of property owners who yell for blood at the very sight of a hunter on their land, and Sherrill Raley, a Fort Worth, Texas rancher, is only slightly different. Raley owns 1,100 acres in Jack and Throckmorton Counties on which there are an abundance of doves and numerous tanks stocked with bass, crappie and catfish. About a year ago, when Raley's wife was ill, he became aware of the dwindling supply of blood in the local blood bank. So he put an advertisement in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram announcing that anyone who donated a pint of blood to the bank could hunt and fish free on his land for a week. The ad brought in more than 300 pints in two months, as hunters came from as far away as California. Now Raley is repeating his offer, and he hopes other land owners will make similar proposals.
The threatened Olympic boycotts—by black American athletes, black African nations and European countries protesting the invasion of Czechoslovakia—appear to be off. Dissident Mexican students probably will not, after all, attempt to sabotage the Games. But last week in Spain there was another Olympic blowup. Three torches used to transport the flame to Mexico City exploded as they were being passed from runner to runner. Luckily, no one was seriously injured in the hand-offs.
Last weekend Howard Hughes, who failed in his attempt to gain control of ABC, quietly bought Sports Network Incorporated, the up-from-nowhere company (SI, Nov. 8, 1965) that now televises more hours of competitive athletics than the three major networks combined. The implications of the Hughes move are huge. SNI President Dick Bailey, who founded his network with $1,000 working capital and lots of gall, has never been able to operate without a tight eye on his budget. "Everything we earned has gone back into the company," his son, Dick Jr., said last week. "We couldn't experiment as much as we'd like to. It was hard to justify a program that was going to lose money. We accepted ones that had established media value."
But now Bailey, who will remain as head of SNI, will have vast financial leeway. There is no reason to think SNI won't enter into direct competitive bidding with the other networks for the big sports contracts—pro football, college football and baseball. (Indeed, there is no reason to think Hughes doesn't intend to build a fourth major TV network for the nation. "We will become the greatest force in communications in the world," Dick Bailey Jr. predicts.)
The prospect is a stimulating one for the sports fan. And if CBS and NBC could have foreseen this, they might have helped Hughes buy ABC.
HELP! GOLDFISH DROWNING!
Peter Humphrey, a 55-year-old water-purification consultant, was sauntering near his garden pond at Hillside Gardens, Northwood, England when he noticed that one of his 14 goldfish was gasping and about to go down for the third time. Acting with great alacrity and courage (he might have splashed water on his shoes), Humphrey snatched up the poor fish, put his fingers in its mouth and dredged up a pebble that was jammed in the goldfish's throat.
Humphrey has been recommended to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for an award for heroism. RSPCA officials do not feel he is quite entitled to its silver or bronze medals, but he might perhaps receive its letter of commendation. "Though the action was quite commendable," one RSPCA official stated, "I doubt that Mr. Humphrey will receive an award. There doesn't seem to have been much element of personal risk, do you think?"
The London Sun in an editorial thinks Humphrey deserves an award, and finds the situation "No Joke at All," as it headed its editorial. "Goldfish lovers will applaud Mr. Humphrey, and so will goldfish," the Sun goes on. "To land creatures, like people, the idea of a fish drowning is unexpected and therefore slightly funny. It is unlikely to seem funny to goldfish." An RSPCA inspector added: "I would hate to think how many goldfish owners would have stood by and let the fish drown because they did not know what was wrong."
We think Mr. Humphrey should get at least a gold medal with guppy clusters, if not the Victoria Cross.
Tulane football coach Jim Pittman. whose Green Wave had a 3-7-0 record last year and whose prospects are none too bright this season, is telling an old anecdote with a new slant: Pittman was confronted by an inebriated fan after a defeat.
"Pittman, you're a lousy coach," the man proclaimed.
"You're drunk," Pittman retaliated.
"Yeah, I know," the drunk responded, "but I'll be over that in the morning."
WHICH WAY DE JUDGE?
The Rick Barry option-clause case becomes, as Alice said, "curiouser and curiouser." Judge Walter Carpeneti ruled that Barry could not be held in a sort of involuntary servitude by the San Francisco Warriors of the NBA and could play with the Oakland Oaks of the ABA. The judge also decided that the damages to the Warriors amounted to $356,000 for the Barry jumping but said his court had no right to award such damages, and he doubted, anyway, if the Warriors could ever get it. "This last finding may be an example of complete futility," he wrote.
At first look, then, the case seems to have been a solid victory for Oakland, but Judge Carpeneti announced immediately after his verdict that he thinks his decision is unfortunate and rather hopes that he will be reversed by a higher court. "I would have preferred to find for the plaintiff [the Warriors]," he said, "but the law is such, I could not. It is a sad situation when a man like Franklin Mieuli [Warrior owner] could pioneer in bringing a sport to an area, take all the gambles, run all the risks, lose some $900,000 in the process and then—when success was beginning to come—see a competitor barge in and steal his star attraction."
The judge suggested that the Warriors appeal and even intimated that an appeals court might enjoin Barry from playing for the Oaks, pending its decision.
VICTORY IN ESCROW
The invitation was bordered in his green and gold racing colors: "Dancer's Image invites you to join in celebrating his victory in the 1968 Kentucky Derby, and his entry into Stud, at a dinner dance on Saturday, the seventh of September at seven o'clock, Lea House, North Hampton, New Hampshire."
Peter Fuller, the owner of the Derby winner who was drugged and later disqualified by the stewards at Churchill Downs, apparently is not choosing to believe the whole thing happened.
For that matter, the members of the Kentucky State Racing Commission, who must rule on Fuller's appeal, don't seem to be choosing to face up to the facts, either.
In the meantime, while the commissioners dawdle, the Derby purse goes undistributed. The $165,100 is still deposited in the racetrack's account in Louisville's Citizens Fidelity Bank & Trust Co. In the end, the money may force the Commission into making a decision. Quite understandably, the owners of Forward Pass, Francie's Hat, T.V. Commercial and Kentucky Sherry are looking for their share.
Fuller probably would settle for the glory.
THE WINNER, BREEZING
What is the fastest way to get from Joliet to Bloomington, Ill. and back again, without being "attached, pushed, launched, pulled, catapulted or in any other way transported by a motor or motorized vehicle?"
Evidently the fastest way is in a wheeled sailboat—followed closely by a truck carrying a huge fan. The second-fastest way is to jump on a bicycle and ride like fury.
In the Illinois Sesquicentennial's "Great Race," held last week under those trying conditions, a 36-year-old engineer, Carl Johnson, literally sailed home in front of the field to take the $1,000 first prize. Johnson's time in the 220-mile race was 9 hours, 2 minutes and 52 seconds. Dennis Blair, the cyclist who came in second, finished 8 minutes behind Johnson. Among the other competitors were:
A man who, after learning that everything had been entered but the kitchen sink, entered a kitchen sink. He mounted it on wheels and put up a shower curtain as a sail. He failed to finish.
A man who created a vacuum in front of his bicycle—placing a three-sided plastic shield ahead of it and a "vacuum tube" apparatus behind. A fan, attached to a car that followed him, blew into the tubes. He attained speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, was the early favorite, but was delayed by two slow freight trains.
A man who claimed to have developed "the copper-coated aspirin, the solid mahogany windshield, steam-powered television and the hyperbolic duck (i.e., the duck that floats)."
A girl, 18-year-old Maureen McCoy of Joliet, who cycled and swam the distance. She was riding along a back road when she came to the Mackinaw River and found the bridge was out. So she swam the river with her bicycle hooked on her arm; and then cycled on.
Even the race judges had a high old time. They observed the race from a giant balloon.
THEY SAID IT
•Bud Wilkinson, former Oklahoma coach, giving one reason for college football's economic problem: "No prospect is more than 4½ hours from your campus by jet today, and the trend is to go after the superprospect regardless of where he is from. When I was at Oklahoma we began with a recruiting budget of $3,000, and I don't think we ever had more than $7,500. Now that wouldn't pay your phone bill."
•Mike Hudoba, chairman of National Press Club's Board of Governors, introducing Washington Redskins' coach, Otto Graham, at a luncheon: "Coach Graham was here once before. You recall that he promised no miracles, and he has faithfully kept his promise."
•Johnny Kerr, coach of the Phoenix Suns, on his problems with the NBA expansion club that is owned by (among others) Andy Williams, Bobbie Gentry, Henry Mancini and Ed Ames: "My main problem now is to decide who is going to sing the national anthem on opening night."