MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN
The NFL players' strike established one thing: everybody in pro football is greedy. Read what the players had to say about the owners and the owners about the players. Arguments by both sides were remarkably persuasive. But whenever owners and players bicker, the fans are the ones who get it in the neck. When a strike is on they are threatened with no pro football. When it is settled they pay the added cost, since all pro football revenue comes, directly or indirectly, from those who follow the game. What the owners and players were fighting about, then, was the money in the wallets and checking accounts of people whose only connection with the game is emotional. If someday the fans were to become disenchanted, if in an involuntary display of unity they all suddenly decided to go on strike themselves and neither buy tickets nor watch pro football on television, where would that leave the owners and the players?
It can't happen, of course. At least, not all at once.
Bobby Orr, the Boston Bruins' hockey star, spends more than $15,000 a year to send autographed pictures to his fans. And. because he lives in his native Canada, the money is not tax deductible. This intelligence was offered to the finance committee of the Canadian House of Commons by Alan Eagleson, executive director of the NHL players' association, in the hope that proposed changes in Canada's tax laws will allow such deductions. Eagleson told the committee that current regulations prohibiting write-offs of various expenses are encouraging Canadian players to move to the U.S., where they can retain a larger percentage of their gross income. Last year, he said, a California accountant sent letters to all NHL players advising them that they would do well to pick up their gear and move south. About 25%, of the Canadians in the NHL have moved from Canada, Eagleson added.
One legislator argued that the Boston club should pay the cost of Orr's autographed pictures. Eagleson said he agreed but added that he had been unsuccessful in getting the Bruins to agree.
A gentleman in Greenville, S.C. has advised us that a game in the Greenville Minor League (for 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds) was won by Holy Rosary over Southside Baptist 28-9. The five-inning game took three hours and 15 minutes to play, he added, and said he thought the following might be a record: Holy Rosary made its 28 runs on two hits, the Baptist pitchers walked 26 men and the catcher had 64 passed balls.
John Reaves, University of Florida quarterback who had the most completions and the most passing yardage among college passers last season, was indignant when one of the football magazines listed the 15 best quarterbacks in the country and did not include him. "I'd be a liar if I said it didn't hurt my pride," he said, and then went on to comment on those who did make the list. Of Southern California's Jimmy Jones, Reaves said: "A real good runner but a lousy passer." Of Ohio State's Rex Kern: "All Ohio State quarterbacks seem to make that list." Of Notre Dame's Joe Theismann: "All Notre Dame quarterbacks seem to make it, too." Of Oklahoma's Jack Mildred: "All he did last year was hand off to Steve Owens." Of Vanderbilt's Watson Brown: "Heck, when we played Vandy last year he didn't even start against us." Of Boston College's Frank Harris: "I never heard of him." Of Arizona State's Joe Spagnola: "Joe who?" Of Southern Methodist's Chuck Hixson: "He's real good. He led the nation in passing the year before I did." Reaves was approving, too, of Alabama's Scott Hunter ("He's a good passer"), Mississippi's Archie Manning ("Just tremendous. I believe he'll earn the Heisman Trophy") and Kansas State's Lynn Dickey, UCLA's Dennis Dummit, Duke's Leo Hart, Michigan's Don Moorhead and Stanford's Jim Plunkett ("They're all good quarterbacks. They should be on there").
The Florida quarterback was also bothered by the omission of teammate Tommy Durrance from the list of outstanding running backs. "You'll notice that Curt Watson of Tennessee made the list," Reaves said. "He couldn't carry Durrance's chin strap."
The son of a publicity man is exposed to so much flak on behalf of whatever it is his father is publicizing that his responses sometimes become almost automatic. Thus Paul Ramsey, 12-year-old son of Jones Ramsey, sports publicity man for the University of Texas, is well aware that Football Coach Darrell Royal much prefers the pass to the run and that Fullback Steve Worster is one of Royal's favorite running backs. It was only normal when Paul and his father saw a road-construction sign one day for the boy to read aloud, "Do Not Pass," and then, without even pausing to think about it, add, "Give the ball to Worster."
ALL THE COMFORTS
One of the odd psychological spin-offs of this electronic age is the empty feeling TV sport fans have when they get off their easy chairs and go out to the stadium to watch their heroes in real life. The trouble comes after a particularly gripping moment—a superb catch, a broken field run, a Jerry West basket, a Bobby Orr goal. The TV-indoctrinated fan sits back, shaking his head in admiration, and waits for the instant replay. He forgets that time in the arena does not have a stop. The game goes relentlessly on, and the spectator is left with the uneasy feeling that he has missed something.
But not fans in Vancouver, British Columbia. The new scoreboard in Empire Stadium, where the Vancouver Lions play Canadian football, includes a giant—well, 15-by-20 feet—screen which will pick up the same replays that are being telecast to the home audience. Canadian Visual Productions, Ltd., which is responsible for the replay screen, says that Empire Stadium is only the start. "We have our sights on the Houston Astrodome—it's ideal because of the controlled lighting—but we figure hockey is the best vehicle, partly because of the lighting and partly because goals happen so quickly that many fans never see the puck go into the net."
Referees and other officials don't much care for the idea, even though instant replays on home television consistently show that officials are right the vast majority of times. Hockey Referee Lloyd Gilmour says, "Look, we blow a few calls, but when we make decisions we have to stick by them. Can you imagine blowing one against the Bruins in Boston and then having the replay show your goof in slow motion to those fans? That could shake a guy up."
MY OLD ICELANDIC HOME
Something fishy has been going on in Middle America, and it took the revelation of mercury pollution in lakes and rivers to bring out the truth. One favorite dish of folks eating out in Kentucky has been golden brown "Kentucky lake catfish," but the danger of mercury pollution has prompted diners to shy away from it. This, in turn, has obliged the restaurant people in the area to admit, with red faces, that the catfish they serve is perfectly safe to eat because—they kind of hate to admit this—it doesn't actually come from Kentucky lakes at all but is imported from places like Iceland and the Amazon River in Brazil. The diners are not always amused. As a restaurant owner in Gilbertsville, Ky. said, "How can you tell customers you've been lying to them for years?"
First they get all suited up in skintight, streamlined outfits, with crash helmets pointed like ship's prows in front. Even the baskets on their ski poles are cone-shaped to reduce wind drag. Then the idea is to see who can ski the fastest down the Plateau Rosa, a lofty glacier above Cervinia, on the Italian side of the Alps. Anyone not prepared to go at least 100 mph might as well not make the climb.
For six years the world record for the Kilometro Lanciato, one kilometer with flying start, was 104.86 mph, held by Italy's Luigi Di Marco. But this year along came a gang of Japanese to sweep everybody off the hill: Moroshita Masaru (whom the Italians now call Moroshita the Missile) swooshed through the clocks at 113.887 mph, Nishi Masaru was close behind at 113.773 and Satoshi Shimizu at 113.539 mph. First Italian, Bruno Alberti, came loafing along fourth at 113.424 mph. Another Japanese, Yuichiro Miura, skied down Mount Everest last spring wearing parachutes as stabilizers (SCORECARD, May 25) but that was more of a circus trick then sheer speed skiing.
On hand to spectate was Leo Gasperl, who won the first edition of this crazy event back in 1931 wearing a 17-pound pair of skis. He has now determined that even though the Japanese beefed themselves up by wearing ballast on their special Kazama skis, the streamlined egg position is of far more importance than the weight of the skier and his appurtenances. After all, little Moroshita weighs only 117 pounds.
ADVICE AND DESCENT
Central Park South, the controversial Louisiana nightclub owned by New Orleans Saints Running Back Ernie Wheelwright (SI, June 1), was closed last week, but not by the NFL, which wanted Wheelwright out of a place it felt was too closely associated with mobsters, nor by state or federal law-enforcing agencies. Instead, the club was shut down by order of the Jefferson Parish Health Unit, which said it did not have proper sewage-treatment facilities. Wheelwright angrily asked how the place could have been operated for two years previously with the same conditions prevailing and demanded to know why the previous operator of the club had not been shut down. Raul Busquet, chief of sanitation of the health unit, said that a previous operator had been advised of the violation on Oct. 23, 1969 and shortly afterward had closed the business. Wheelwright had been given a temporary permit in April with the understanding that he would provide adequate disposal facilities. After the temporary permit expired, inspections revealed that the sewage conditions had not changed, and when Wheelwright failed to appear at a meeting on July 22 the order to close the premises followed.
Wheelwright had arranged to buy the club last February, after first consulting with the Saints' front office. Despite their O.K., he was advised in mid-April by Bernie Jackson, an NFL lawyer, to abandon the deal. Wheelwright refused, even though he was warned that he would probably be suspended if he continued with what the league felt was an unsavory business connection.
As Sheriff Alwynn Cronvich of Jefferson Parish said then, "Someone has given Wheelwright very bad advice."
The greyhound track in Juàrez, Mexico, has inserted a Primate Special into the regular card of dog racing. Greyhounds fitted with special saddles are ridden by tiny jockeys—capuchin monkeys imported from South America. The monkey-dog exhibitions have made such a hit with the crowd that the track management is thinking of making them a part of the card on weekends, with pari-mutuel betting allowed.
THEY SAID IT
•Bob Bass, Texas Tech basket ball coach, on an encounter in New York with Gene Knolle, one of his players: "He said he was working as a secretary. 'A customer orders something and I write it down and take it to the chef.' "
•John Lakuta of Lakewood, Ohio, after making a 51-mile trip across Lake Erie in 23 hours in his homemade 16-foot kayak: "I don't want to see even a glass of water for at least a month."
•Ralph Palladin, telling of blows by Matt Donovan in a fight that caused him to suffer a cut eye and led to his loss on a six-round TKO in Baltimore: "He caught me with a beautiful left elbow. He's got the best left elbow in the business."