TROUBLE IN THE VALLEY
It would have taken a CIA agent of special skills to get in to see the Mid-Valley (California) League championship game between the basketball teams of San Fernando and Granada Hills high schools. It was held behind locked doors, under police protection, at a neutral site that had been kept secret until just before game time. Not even the players knew where they were going as they piled into buses.
Behind the secrecy was a history of racially inspired violence that began back during the football season—not between players but among spectators in the stands. It continued into the basketball season. San Fernando High is integrated—about 48% Chicano, 30% black, 2% Oriental and 20% white. Granada Hills is almost entirely white.
A few days before the game the San Fernando school was closed because of disturbances, mostly caused by nonstudents and former students roaming around the campus, courts and hallways. It remained closed for four days. Officials of the two teams got together and decided that the game would have to be played clandestinely at Palisades High.
Only about 200 people, including the players, were there. The others were mostly coaches, officials, scouts, Palisades High players who gave up their practice time for the game and a handful of Palisades students.
San Fernando beat back a furious third-period rally by Granada Hills to win 90-83.
There were no cheers and no cheerleaders.
SHAM BATTLES BANNED
Those hockey fights, most of which are so dull that they couldn't make the bottom of a boxing card in Kalamazoo, have long been encouraged by team managements, quite as if they were essential to the game. Now Clarence Campbell, president of the National Hockey League, has moved in on the situation, largely because hockey has become more and more a television sport and Campbell fears for the game's national reputation. In a letter addressed to all NHL governors and general managers, Campbell has expressed his disapproval. "Since the start of the current season," he noted, "there have been nine instances in which the players of one or both participating teams have made a general exodus from their benches and participated in a few fights, some wrestling and a tremendous amount of sweater pulling—which, on television particularly, has all the characteristics of a riot."
Further, he observed, governors and club managements "have been accused of encouraging this state of indiscipline."
What gripes Campbell most of all apparently is that imposition of fines by the clubs is purely pro forma. Offending players are fined, then reimbursed with bonuses. So Campbell is going to get tough with the clubs, he says.
"In my opinion," he wrote, "any club that pays the fines of its players or reimburses them in any manner with respect to them is doing a great disservice to our game. Furthermore, I am of the firm conviction that any such action is a contravention of Bylaw 17.3, which makes the club and the responsible club official both liable to fines up to $5,000, and it is my intention to apply the bylaw in this manner where the consequences of disciplinary action by way of fines have been circumvented in this manner."
Now, maybe, there will be less violence on TV.
NEW HOPE FOR AINTREE
Fears that the Grand National steeplechase would be doomed with the sale of the Aintree racecourse have been lifted somewhat by a plan for the track's redevelopment.
The plan calls for the building of a shopping complex, a hotel, business offices, an industrial area and residences. As to the course, two of its existing 16 jumps—the Chair and the water jump—would be relocated. Stands would be demolished and new ones aligned to provide a better view of the race.
The proposal has been submitted to the Lancashire County Council and Liverpool Corporation. If they approve it, the owners will put the property on the market and thus make it available for commercial interests to undertake the development.
Aside from having an automobile named after it and acting as the protagonist in a cartoon short in which its role is to outfox a coyote, the roadrunner has become a political issue in New Mexico, where it is the state bird. In a recent gubernatorial election one candidate said the state symbol's tail ought to be tilted up, the other that it should stick straight out.
Now the governors are at it again. Criticizing his predecessor for taking a grand piano out of the governor's mansion and a display of Apollo 11 moon rocks out of the executive office, Governor Bruce King complained, "He didn't leave a doggone thing except one woodpecker in the governor's office."
Woodpecker? That was a wooden statue of a roadrunner, as former Governor Dave Cargo was quick to point out. "King wouldn't know the difference between the state bird and a woodpecker," he said, explaining that he wanted to give the piano and the moon rocks to the state museum.
The state senate jumped in with a pacifying memorial addressed to King and Cargo and asked that copies of the memorial be "embellished with woodpecker and roadrunner feathers."
But under federal law it is not only illegal to capture either bird for its feathers, it is also illegal to possess such feathers for decorations. The U.S. Bureau of Sports Fisheries and Wildlife was asked, "But what about abandoned feathers that a bird may have shed?"
"It's technically illegal to use them," was the reply, "but we might not enforce this."
Plucking taxpayers is O.K., but road-runners are a no-no.
THE COLUMBIA COLTS?
The flight to the suburbs does not involve just people. It applies to pro football organizations, too.
The Chicago Bears have signed a five-year agreement to play their home games in Northwestern University's Dyche Stadium—subject to the approval of the Evanston City Council.
The Dallas Cowboys will be playing in Arlington, Texas.
The Detroit Lions are committed to Pontiac, Mich.
The Boston Patriots are moving to Foxboro, Mass.
There are other teams which are threatening to move, but their threats may be considered to be just that—an application of leverage to pry more money or other benefits out of their municipalities. Among these:
The New York Giants, who seem to be making eyes at Bergen County, N.J.
The Baltimore Colts, who say they are interested in Columbia, Md.
And, of course, the stadiums used by the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers are already outside metropolitan centers.
Apparently the first in the nation to do so, the Barron, Wis. school district has begun a compulsory snowmobile course for children—370 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at Woodlawn School. The course will be repeated at five other elementary schools in the system.
This winter twice as many new snowmobiles as automobiles were registered in Barron, at least seven persons in the area have been hospitalized after snowmobile accidents and three youngsters—aged 6, 7 and 8—barely escaped going under a school bus while snowmobiling in the school parking lot. Edward Zamzow, superintendent of schools, said that 60% of the Woodlawn children come from families owning snowmobiles and 90% have ridden on them. Among high school students, 22 ride snowmobiles to school daily. At least four third-graders own their own snowmobiles.
THE FUSSY PROS
The golden arm of UCLA football over the past two seasons, Dennis Dummit was stunned by the failure of any professional team to draft him. Even his old coach, Tommy Prothro, now with the Los Angeles Rams, passed him by.
Dummit's whole goal in football was to become a professional quarterback, even to the point, he told a Rhodes scholarship evaluation board, that if the pros summoned him, as he expected, he would have to choose football rather than the scholarship.
His last season's accomplishments included a brilliant triumph over Southern California. Against Texas he suffered a last-second loss but broke a UCLA record by throwing for 340 yards. Bob Waterfield, whose record Dummit broke, fully expected the pros to be interested.
"Everyone will be looking at Dummit because of his arm," Waterfield said.
But they looked at other things, too, and one National Football League authority summed it up thus:
"Dummit is short of size and short of arm. He's under 6 feet, only 180 and under 35 yards a great passer. Beyond that point he's a slinger with the ball up for grabs."
And another scout reported:
"For being as fine a short passer as he is, he doesn't have sure hands, his hand-offs are not solid, he is not quick and in a scramble situation sometimes panics."
Unfortunate, no doubt, for one who loves football so much, but a fellow good enough to be considered for a Rhodes scholarship shouldn't have a great deal to worry about.
TO COOK A COOT
Because they have been causing serious damage to crops in California, it will be legal to shoot coots in that state until May 16. The birds may be eaten or donated to hospitals or other charitable institutions for food.
Those who contemplate eating coot may wish to be reminded of the famous old recipe of Van Campen Heilner, sportsman-writer. It goes something like this:
"Clean the coot and put it in a pot of water with a flatiron. Boil for three days, throw out the coot and serve the flatiron."
Young Stribling built up an impressive record as a prizefighter by traveling from town to town in the South boxing his chauffeur, who appeared under a variety of names. And Rocky Marciano, early in his career, was found to be fighting his own brother.
Now George Foreman, Olympic champion and No. 1 challenger on the World Boxing Association list, is in the same rocky boat. He was booked in St. Paul last week to fight Phil Smith of Washington. He did, in fact, fight someone introduced as Smith and knocked him out in the first round but, according to Jack Gibbons, secretary of the Minnesota State Athletic Commission, it was Charlie Boston of Winston-Salem, N.C. Bobby Brown, Washington trainer, assured Gibbons that Smith had not left town on the day in question.
THEY SAID IT
•Satchel Paige, after being named to the Hall of Fame's new wing for old-time Negro players: "The only change is that baseball has turned Paige from a second-class citizen into a second-class immortal."
•Garry Unger, 23-year-old hockey player, on being traded to St. Louis from Detroit and leaving behind 42-year-old Gordie Howe and 39-year-old Alex Delvecchio: "Where could you find two guys who are old enough to be your father who will go to a go-go joint with you?"
•Bill Veeck, former baseball owner, on the state of the game today: "Baseball is like our society. It's become homogenized, computerized. People identify with the swashbuckling individuals, not the polite little men who field their position well. Sir Galahad probably had a big following, but I'll bet Lancelot had more."