BORING FROM WITHIN
The Internal Revenue Service has announced that it is suspending rulings on requests for tax-exempt status by "public interest law firms and other organizations which litigate or support litigation for what they determine to be the public good." The IRS specifically mentioned groups concerned with protection of the consumer and preservation of the environment, and indicated it would distinguish between groups that are educational and those that litigate. In other words, a nonprofit organization that publicizes environmental problems would be eligible for tax-exempt status, but if it took polluters into court, it would not be.
Thus, the IRS proposal, if it is allowed to stand, would cripple anti-pollution efforts. Legal action costs money, and conservation groups depend on donations to underwrite those costs. But few big donors will be able to continue their contributions to environmental defense if they lose tax deductions hitherto allowed.
The IRS defended its proposal by saying it was unfair to have taxpayers subsidize, in effect, one side in a lawsuit, conveniently overlooking the fact that the defendants in such suits are already able to write off much of their legal costs under existing law. Moreover, as Russell E. Train, chairman of President Nixon's Council on Environmental Quality, points out, environmental suits are not ordinarily designed to bring financial gain to the plaintiff nor do they involve personal economic interests. And, Train adds, litigation by such groups is most important in reinforcing the laws protecting the environment and in identifying gaps in regulatory procedure, "as, for example, in our pesticide controls."
Train asked Commissioner Randolph W. Thrower of the IRS not to take the step against the public interest groups but his request was ignored. Senator Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota called the IRS action "outrageous and callous." He said, "What it does is completely discredit the system. Here we have conservative due-process technique—the very thing that makes our system—and it is denied these public interest groups when it becomes effective."
The tax people ought to reread President Nixon's speech to Congress last February, in which he called for "greater citizen involvement" in the "fight against pollution." As the President said then, "The tasks that need doing require money, resolve and ingenuity—and they are too big to be done by government alone."
Particularly so when one part of government is sabotaging the effort.
In Oakland, Calif. disgruntled fans have started a new campaign against Charles O. Finley, the controversial owner of the Athletics. They are pushing bumper stickers that say FREE THE A'S.
The great thing about the Astrodome in Houston, of course, is that if a game is scheduled to be played there you can be sure that it won't be rained out. Still, it doesn't hurt to be prepared. When the Oilers met the Baltimore Colts in the Dome a couple of weekends ago, a heavy rain pelting the roof moved some foresighted customers to pop open umbrellas. They were not superstitious, and they were getting wet. It seems that Roy Hofheinz, the Astrodome impresario, and Harris County, which owns the arena, have been arguing for two years over who has responsibility for things like repairs and maintenance. And while Houston argues, the roof leaks.
Bold Ruler, Preakness winner in 1957 and one of the outstanding sires in thoroughbred racing history, was stricken with cancer of the throat this year. Because of his immense value as a sire, the horse was sent to Auburn University's School of Veterinary Medicine for medical attention. The tumor was found to be inoperable, but in September, under the direction of Dr. Jerry H. Johnson, associate professor of large animal surgery and medicine, Bold Ruler began to receive a series of cobalt treatments in the hope that the cancer could be arrested. The cobalt therapy proved so effective that by mid-October the stallion was released from the clinic and returned to Kentucky, where hopefully he will stand at stud for at least another year.
Scientists trying to determine what the moon is made of got some answers when the first astronauts returned with rock and soil samples. But then all their calculations were thrown off by the seismographic instruments left on the moon's surface. Those instruments reported that shock waves traveled through the moon at an astonishingly slower rate than they do through the earth. Puzzled, scientists tested a wide variety of materials, searching for one that yielded a rate similar to the moon's. One that did was aged provolone cheese.
Facing the question of why this information should be offered to readers of a sports magazine, we have decided: why shouldn't everyone know?
Warren Armstrong, Rookie of the Year last season in the American Basketball Association, has one last chance to remain in the ABA after being assigned to his third team in less than a year. Trouble with Washington Capitol Coach Al Bianchi precipitated the first move, a trade to the Kentucky Colonels for a 1971 top draft choice. But the moody, quick-tempered Armstrong was in Louisville only long enough for eight exhibition games when General Manager Mike Storen suspended him, saying, "I consider that this franchise, as of this moment, is finished with Warren Armstrong." The reason was related to supposed attempts on Armstrong's part to form a black union among the Kentucky players. Four days later he was traded to the Indiana Pacers, a team that had sought him earlier and the one the 25-year-old player said he wanted to join all along. Pacer General Manager John Weissert said, "If there is anyplace where he has a chance to blend in and contribute substantially to a winning team, it's here." Replied Armstrong, "I like the prospects," and in a show of accord went along with Pacer Coach Bob Leonard's first request by shaving his beard. "I don't think I'm the monster I'm made out to be," he added.
IN LIFE AND DEATH
Fred (Dutch) Leidig, who died recently in Baltimore at the age of 61, worked for that city's Bureau of Recreation and had devoted more than 40 years of his life to amateur athletics. In a touching variation on a traditional theme, his obituary notice said, "In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to your favorite sports organization."
NOTES FROM OLYMPUS
From Bob Paul of the U.S. Olympic Committee comes the following intelligence about things Olympian:
At Munich, athletes in all 21 sports will be examined for evidence of drugs taken to stimulate performances.
Electric starting blocks will be used in track events at Munich to detect false starts.
Top ticket price at Munich will be about $25 (for the opening ceremonies). Top price for track and field, swimming, boxing, gymnastics and soccer will be about $15.
The IAAF has worked out an arrangement that will let manufacturers like Adidas and Puma continue to make track shoes with distinctive markings; in return, distribution of the shoes to athletes must be done through the national Olympic committee in each country.
The IAAF has upped per diem allowances for athletes competing in foreign countries from $2 to $3 (pocket money for incidentals); travel and living expenses are paid by the national team.
WHO'S AT FLANKER
A newspaper report described Don Jackson, Columbia's sophomore quarterback, as one of several black quarterbacks in the Ivy League, and the Columbia sports information director had to issue a release specifically describing Jackson as white, not black. Ideally, such confusion between white and black should not be important enough to notice, but we are a race-conscious people. In Texas, Ted Nance, the University of Houston's publicity man, received a call from a writer on this magazine asking if it was true that Houston's offensive backfield coach was black. "No," replied Nance, "he is Brown. In fact we have two offensive backfield coaches. One is Brown and the other is Redd."
"Oh," said our man. "Well, is one of them black?"
"Yes," said Nance, "Redd is black. Brown is white."
Five minutes later our writer called Nance back and said, "Would you mind giving that all to me again?"
THEY SAID IT
•Hayden Fry, SMU coach, agreeing that the Southwest Conference race gets less predictable every year: "It's awfully hard trying to figure out who will finish third behind Texas and Arkansas."
•Elrod Hendricks, Oriole catcher, on the disputed tag play on Bernie Carbo in the first game of the World Series: "If I tag him with the ball my name is in fine print in the paper, but if I tag him with the empty glove my name is all over the paper."
•Dan Abramowicz, New Orleans Saints wide receiver: "When I'm running a pattern, I pretend there is no one else on the field but myself and the quarterback. If I start thinking, 'I'm going to get hit,' I'll lose my concentration. I don't love to get hit, but I know it's part of the game. And I realize that whether I catch the ball or not, I'm going to be hit. So, I'd rather have a completion and get banged good than drop the ball and get my head knocked off."