Newspapers had fun with it, running deadpan headlines saying DANCER'S IMAGE WINS DERBY and letting the joke lie in the fact that the result came two years and seven months after the race had been run. But as Queen Victoria once said, we are not amused. The Kentucky Derby is—or was—one of those rare sporting events that transcends its sport, and to have it tarnished by an affair like this is sad and depressing. Most disheartening is the realization that the courts had to exercise a function that properly belongs within racing. One of the basic assumptions about any organized sport is that it is self-governing; rules, discipline, punishment come from within. If the sport is misgoverned, then the required correction should come from within. When a sport demonstrates that it is weak and uncertain of its course, as racing did, it leaves itself exposed. That the 1968 Kentucky Derby contretemps was so mishandled that a court of law had to settle the affair is a disgrace to thoroughbred racing.
Bowie Kuhn's stature, damaged earlier in the year by his handling of Denny McLain's two suspensions, was undermined further at the annual baseball meetings this month in Los Angeles. The Baseball Commissioner had made no secret of his desire to centralize authority as Pete Rozelle has with the National Football League. But Kuhn's efforts met with total failure. He could not get Joe Cronin, president of the American League, to move that league's office to New York from Boston. Cronin has lived in Boston for 35 years and was not about to budge. Kuhn could not get Chub Feeney, president of the National League, to consider bringing his operation East from San Francisco. Feeney, who just missed becoming Commissioner himself (before Kuhn won as a surprise candidate), has made it clear that he intends to keep his office as independent as he can make it. And Kuhn could not persuade Phil Piton, president of the National Association, to transfer the minor league office from Columbus, Ohio to New York. The 68-year-old Piton vociferously resisted the suggestion. The Commissioner could not even obtain an O.K. for his perfectly logical proposal to bring all major league umpires under one jurisdiction.
It is all too apparent that Kuhn is still a long way from running baseball a la Rozelle. In baseball the owners decide what will be done. They made this all too clear in Los Angeles when they effectively kept Bowie Kuhn in his place.
Now you can have Tom Dempsey's record-breaking 63-yard field goal in your own library. New Orleans' radio station WWL is sending a free 100-second tape of Broadcaster Al Wester's report of the moment to anyone whose order is accompanied by a $10 check or money order made out to a favorite charity. WWL passes the money on to the charity when it mails the tape to you.
The pro football dispute that was settled last August has not been settled, after all, and another strike in 1971 is a distinct possibility. The NFL Players' Association and the owners supposedly agreed on a four-year contract, but the contract has not yet been signed. The owners say the pact is supposed to include coaches, trainers and equipment men; the players say, no, that the contract is with players only and that bringing in coaches and the others would cost the association $230,000 a year. The owners won't budge, and the players' representatives won't sign.
Ken Bowman, Green Bay center who is a vice-president of the players' group, says, "I'm almost ashamed. Any union man will tell you that you don't put the workers back in the plant until it's all in black and white, with signatures from both sides. I'm fed up. I think John Mackey [Baltimore tight end who is president of the players' association] is as irate as I am. If it isn't settled, we would withhold our services again."
DOWN TO THE SEA
An aluminum spike was driven into the wooden-ship-and-iron-men tradition the other day when Designer Olin Stephens said he expects to have an aluminum 12-meter yacht ready for the next America's Cup defense in 1973. "For all practical purposes," said Stephens, "aluminum Twelves are a foregone conclusion."
Before Stephens, or any designer, can absolutely scuttle the traditional wooden Twelves, Lloyds of London must first establish (at the request of the International Yacht Racing Union) what is called a set of scantlings—that is, rules to ensure that designers and builders will not cut corners and sacrifice strength and safety for lightness. A few years ago when the IYRU first asked this of Lloyds, the insurance group declined, saying that it would be a waste of time and money unless there were some sort of assurance that an aluminum Twelve would actually be built. Now, apparently, there is that assurance.
For traditionalists who see the sea through a haze of wood shavings and oakum, who revere shipwrights who sculpt boats by eye and adz, the news of aluminum Twelves sits hard. But it is a plus for the future. Aluminum is stiff, strong and light, and it is comparatively easy to build a boat with it, whereas finding a shipyard capable of constructing the meticulously designed 12-meter yachts from wood is about as easy as locating a live dinosaur. Further, it is versatile; as Designer Britton Chance points out, it is conceivable that with aluminum hulls the 1973 boats will have a veritable wardrobe of sterns. If one doesn't seem to work right, you simply lop it off and fit on another.
Finally, aluminum is not simply a gimmick with which the New York Yacht Club hopes to retain its edge over foreign challengers. Bruno Bich of France says his country is for the idea (his father, Baron Marcel Bich, has announced that he will challenge again in 1973), and so is Alan Payne, who designed Australia's Gretel II. Both know that, with modern technology, everything will be fine and that what happened to L. Francis Herreshoff's Defender in 1895 won't happen in the 1970s. Defender, the first cup boat to be constructed with aluminum topsides, had a bronze bottom. When that was immersed in salt water, electrolysis turned the yacht into a kind of huge battery. She almost melted.
A new playground for the jet set is being built near Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast in West Africa. Felix Houphouet-Boigny, president of the country, says, "The project may bring smiles to those skeptics who think that Africa is irrevocably condemned to mediocrity and stagnation," but the new "African Riviera" will have hotels, amusement parks, a wild-animal island and an 18-hole golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones. The golf course, the first element scheduled to be completed, will be ready in 1972.
GOOD OLD NO. 37—UH, 52
Rich Coady is a reserve tight end for the Chicago Bears and wears No. 37, an unusual but acceptable number for a tight end. However, there is a complication. Because of injuries, the Bears have been reduced to only two active tackles, and Center Bob Hyland has been tabbed as the first reserve. If one of the regular tackles is injured, Hyland moves over from center and fills in. Coady, in turn, has been named Hyland's replacement. But if Coady is called into action as a center, he can't just run on the field and take over. First, he must strip off jersey No. 37 and shift to No. 52, which would clearly identify him to officials as an ineligible receiver.
Remember the old days, when in the dying moments of the game a grim-faced Pat O'Brien would turn to scared-looking Harold Lloyd at the end of the bench and snap, "You there, you with the glasses. Get in at halfback." Pat O'Brien didn't care what number he was sending in. He didn't even know if Harold Lloyd had a number.
It has often been said that a prime requirement for fishing is patience. Wait long enough and the fish will be there. Well, that is one way of doing it, and a paragon along these lines is Tommy Baker of St. Petersburg, Fla. Baker recently caught a 15½-pound largemouth bass in Lake Seminole near St. Pete. It was an impressive trophy, no question about it, but it was quite a bit lighter than the 22-pound 4-ounce largemouth caught by a man named George Perry in Lake Montgomery, Ga. 38 years ago. That's still the record, the 60 home runs of largemouth bass fishing. So Baker took his 15-pounder and put it in a small pond back of his home. There he intends to keep it, feeding it at proper intervals, until it grows up to around 23 pounds or so. Then he'll go a-fishin' again. It might take a few years but, as we noted above, Tommy Baker is a patient man.
Games played on boards are customarily games played in fantasyland, but bringing matters very much down to earth in Cambridge, Mass. is Urban Systems, Inc., a research outfit that has developed three games dealing with environment. The games—DIRTY WATER, SMOG and ECOLOGY—are so realistically enlightening that they have the potential of truly benefiting the players as well as society at large. Not only that, the packages and moving parts are either biodegradable or recyclable.
The games (they cost a neat $10 each) are the offspring of some heavy studies the USI people—mostly Harvard and MIT types—have been doing for government and business aimed at unraveling the environmental snafus afflicting these overcast days. An innovative way to share their findings, they reasoned, was through games that allow the players to assume the identities of those held accountable for pollution.
In DIRTY WATER, for example, players are water-pollution control officials and are given the job of managing a lake. Playing pieces bear the likeness of the various slippery and squiggly things that inhabit or infest our nation's waters, and players do their damnedest to keep some sort of sane balance among amoebas, rotifers and sun-fish while turbid scum and herbicides ooze in from every side. SMOG players are called air-quality managers, and after a few agonizing rounds confronting a plethora of peroxides and aldehydes and voters with vested interests, the participants start thinking how they will themselves vote come next election day, not to mention what kind of letters to fire off to their Congressmen in the meantime.
Wider in concept than the others, ECOLOGY lets players experience evolution from Prehistoric Rustic to 20th-century Technocrat—and all the ecosystem headaches man is heir to along the way. One leaves the game board slightly in awe—and with a somewhat greater understanding and respect for the fragile web we often so callously abuse. One wins, in effect, whether one loses on the board or not.
THEY SAID IT
•Billy Kidd, former U.S. Olympic skier, asked to explain the growing popularity of the sport in this country: "People are looking for self-expression. In skiing nobody tells you where to go or what to do. You do your own thing. And you do it in the beautiful mountains away from the pollution."
•John Green, at 37 the oldest player in the NBA, on his feelings when he and husky 32-year-old Tom Meschery got into a fight during a Cincinnati-Seattle game: "As soon as it started, I thought, 'What am I doing out here fighting with him, and where are all my friends who should be breaking this thing up before I get clobbered?' "
•Art Quoquochi, winger for the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League and a full-blooded American Indian, asked what type of movies he enjoyed: "Westerns, but all the time we lose."
•Gump Worsley, veteran goalie for the Minnesota North Stars, commenting on a claim that he did all his training in St. Paul bars: "That's not true. I've switched to Minneapolis now."