THE LETTER AND THE SPIRIT
The NCAA keeps stumbling over its own rules. In 1962, partly to protect college basketball players from gamblers, the NCAA declared that a collegian faced suspension if he took part in a basketball game that had not been officially approved. But two current instances of NCAA enforcement of that basically sound rule seem to go far beyond its meaning and purpose.
First, the NCAA this year refused to sanction the basketball competition at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, although in the past the Maccabiah Games, like the Olympics and the Pan-American Games, had been sanctioned. When players from various parts of the country were being considered for the U.S. team the NCAA—apparently because an AAU-approved group was the selecting agency—blew the whistle at the collegians on the team and said no-no.
Most colleges reluctantly told their players to stay home, but Yale, which like all the Ivy League is having its differences with the NCAA, told its Jack Langer, a 6'8" junior, to go ahead. "He wanted to go and I encouraged him," says DeLaney Kiphuth, Yale's athletic director. "It was a great opportunity for him because he is a Jew and he wanted a chance to represent this country in Israel." As of last weekend Langer had not been declared ineligible but, Kiphuth says, "We made a stand, and I don't see how the NCAA can fail to bring us up before the infractions committee."
The second case seems even more extreme. Now a senior, 6'9" Gary Freeman of Oregon State went home to Boise, Idaho last March and played in a seniors vs. alumni game at his old school, Borah High. Because Oregon State players had been cautioned about playing in "outside" games, Freeman checked first with the high school coach, who in turn asked city and state interscholastic officials if it would be O.K. Everybody said fine, and Freeman played. Late in August, five months later, it was announced that Freeman had been suspended for violating the NCAA rule and that he could not play basketball for Oregon State this winter. Oregon State quickly asked the 18-man NCAA council, which has jurisdiction in the matter, to reinstate Freeman, but the request was denied.
People in Boise and at Oregon State were stunned and angry. It was generally accepted that someone at the University of Oregon had reported Freeman. The only Pacific Coast representative on the NCAA council is the University of Oregon's Dr. Raymond T. Ellickson. According to people in Boise, the NCAA talked to none of the Idaho officials involved with the game. Said Ron Runyon, superintendent of athletics and physical education for the Boise public schools, "We were not aware of the NCAA rule, but as I understand it now the purpose of the rule is to stop college players from competing in organized games in summer leagues or in AAU tournaments. It's pretty farfetched to call this piddly little seniors-alumni thing an organized game. Gary didn't even play with the alumni—he played with the seniors to balance the teams. No official score was kept, there were no paid officials and there was only a small crowd. Admission was something like 25¢, and the little money we took in went to lettermen's club projects.
"The NCAA council's only justification for calling Gary ineligible was that they have done the same thing before. They may have been wrong before, too."
American League officials and club owners, unhappy about the widespread use of the term "playoff"—which has such strong overtones of football—to describe what they would prefer to call the championship series between the winners of the Eastern and Western Divisions, have decided that correction begins at home. Anyone of their group who uses the word "playoff," orally or in writing, is subject to a $1 fine, and Ewing Kauffman of the Kansas City Royals has been authorized to collect the money. League President Joe Cronin and executives Gabe Paul of the Cleveland Indians and Jerry Hoffberger of the Baltimore Orioles have already paid up. Cronin, in forwarding his dollar, cautiously avoided compounding his original felony. "Jerry Hoffberger has informed me," he wrote to Kauffman, "that I owe you a dollar for mentioning the word that formerly described our American League championship series."
DREAMS OF GLORY
They say that a vicarious sense of accomplishment is one of the things that contributes most to making a man a pro football fan. "I can do anything," he thinks subconsciously as he watches Gale Sayers or Joe Namath or John Mackey.
Sometimes his subconscious takes over completely, and for a moment or two he can do anything. For instance, 38 fans from Mountain View, Calif. got aboard a chartered bus a Sunday or two ago and settled down for the 40-mile drive to San Francisco, where they planned to watch the 49ers in an exhibition game. But the bus would not start. Its battery was dead. Some of those aboard suggested pouring bourbon, of which there was a plentiful supply, into the battery, but their self-appreciative laughter died down when the bus driver came back from a phone booth to report unhappily that it would take nearly an hour to get a replacement battery.
Stunned at this untoward delay, the 38 fans stared at him. But then the old subconscious got going. Almost before you could say, "Are we going to miss the kickoff?" three dozen Deacon Joneses poured out of the bus, put their suddenly brawny shoulders to the wheel and pushed until the motor turned over.
They made the kickoff—easy.
BUT NO PEBBLES
Portland, Ore. introduced the 100% artificial turf baseball diamond, including base paths (SCORECARD, July 14), and now Cincinnati's new River Front Stadium, scheduled to open next summer, brings the no-dirt infield to the majors. AstroTurf will cover every part of the field in River Front except the pitcher's mound and the batter's box. There will be one concession to tradition. The "skin" of the infield will be tinted brown.
On the morning of the day he was to fight Ernie Terrell in the Astrodome, in February of 1967, Muhammad Ali sat in his hotel room in Houston and watched the film of the Rocky Marciano-Joe Walcott fight, the one in which Marciano came back from almost certain defeat to knock out Walcott in the 13th round and win the heavyweight championship. When it was over Ali turned to his manager, Angelo Dundee, and said, with uncharacteristic respect in his voice, "Angelo, the man's tough. I'd wear him on the end of my glove for 10 rounds, but he'd still be coming. He'd be hell to fight. It wouldn't be no fight—it would be a war."
Marciano was a graceless fighter who appeared clumsy in the ring, but he was extraordinarily effective. He sparred with Ali once, to make films to illustrate one of those ridiculous computerized fights. He had worked hard getting ready for the filming, and he was in shape. "We wouldn't cut loose to the head," Ah said, "but we did rip punches to the body. I caught most of his shots on my arms, and for a week afterward it hurt me to lift them."
After he retired from the ring Marciano lost money in a couple of ill-advised investments, and thereafter he seemed almost obsessed with the need to earn money. He would go almost anywhere if there was a dollar to be made (he was nearing the end of a business trip when he had his fatal crash). Yet the fact that he had been a great heavyweight champion and had retired undefeated meant so much to him that he would not come back to the ring to fight again despite fabulous offers—including a reported $5 million to meet Clay.
When Sonny Liston lost his championship to Clay in Miami by not coming out for the seventh round, Marciano was genuinely upset. "How could that big stiff sit there on the stool and let them take his title away?" he kept asking. "How could he care so little about it? The man was heavyweight champion of the world!"
RETREAT FROM BOSTON
Late in August the Massachusetts House of Representatives killed a bill that would have authorized construction of a $42 million, 50,000-seat stadium in Boston. The political and economic complexities besetting the proposed stadium had become "a hopeless muddle," according to Speaker David M. Bartley.
The hopeless muddle means that Boston is going to lose its pro football team. The Patriots, who are playing this year's schedule in Boston College's 25,000-seat, plain-pipe-rack stadium, cannot survive in Boston without a modern stadium. Soon, maybe next year, they will depart for Seattle, Birmingham or—according to the latest rumor—Memphis.
AN ELEMENT OF SPEED
It was a rough week for the "fastest humans" who have tried to follow Bob Hayes' footsteps into the football arena. Jimmy Hines, Olympic 100-meter champion and world record holder, was cut by the Miami Dolphins, despite the $70,000 he was reportedly paid last winter for signing. Hines' trouble was simply an inability to catch passes (his teammates nicknamed him Oops). Tommie Smith, 200-meter champion in Mexico City and world record holder in that event, who before signing a pro contract had not played since high school, was put on waivers by the Cincinnati Bengals. However, Smith had shown potential, and the Bengals quickly recalled him to their taxi squad. Finally Lee Evans, 400-meter champion in Mexico and, yes, the world record holder, had gone out for football at San Jose State in an effort to show the pros what he could do as a runner in the open field. He hoped to become a wide receiver or a specialist on the punt and kickoff return teams. But Head Coach Joe McMullen had made it clear earlier that he was going to use his players where they would be of most help to the team. In Evans' case, he had indicated, that would be as a defensive back, and Evans decided to hang up his cleats.
Ford introduced its new Maverick on April 17 and sold 105,000 of the cars in four months. At the same time Ford, in its advertising, offered "an authentic [1/25] scale model" of the Maverick for $1. It sold 84,000 of the $1 toys, or 21,000 fewer than it did of the $1,995 version. The only reason advanced to explain this startling sales advantage for the model that cost almost 2,000 times as much is that buyers could not use trade-ins to help finance the $1 Maverick.
A reverse trend in conservation is running strong in Missouri. About 150 admirable canoeists from half a dozen states took to the Current River for the 10th annual cleanup sponsored by the Ozark Wilderness Waterways Club. They took three days to cover a 26-mile stretch of the river, and when they were finished they had filled 283 burlap bags with trash and junk. Most of what they found was paper, cans and bottles, but there were tires, too, and bed springs and a lawn mower, a washing machine, a wheelbarrow and a sewing machine.
It's a nice, positive idea. Not only "Don't Litter." Get out there and De-Litter.
THEY SAID IT
•Earl Weaver, Baltimore Orioles manager, after Kansas City successfully executed a ninth-inning suicide squeeze bunt: "I yelled from the dugout, 'Watch the squeeze,' and then I watched it."
•John Edwards, Houston Astros catcher, asked where he was hurt in a home plate collision with the Pittsburgh Pirates' 210-pound Carl Taylor: "Everywhere but the roof of my mouth."
•Doug Atkins, New Orleans Saints defensive end, on hearing that reformed teammate Joe Don Looney's dog had made a devastating raid on a hen house near Looney's farm: "I might have known. The minute the kid straightens out the dog goes bad."