FOOT FAULT FOR NAACP
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an organization which has done enormous good for American blacks, now is undertaking a project that will trouble many of its well-wishers.
Jack E. Robinson, head of the Boston chapter of NAACP, has announced that the association will undertake an "active protest" against all sports events featuring athletes from South Africa, beginning with next month's professional tennis championships at Longwood Cricket Club and the Massachusetts Golf Classic at Pleasant Valley Country Club. Cliff Drysdale, Frew McMillan and Bob Maud, South African tennis players, are entered at Longwood and Gary Player and Harold Henning at Pleasant Valley.
"The Boston tournaments will be the opening round of national protests of sporting events in which any South African appears," Robinson says. "There are no reasons why these representatives of apartheid should be welcome in the United States."
While it grows more and more difficult to keep sports and politics separate, there is no more reason to think that South African athletes are necessarily "representatives of apartheid" than that Americans abroad are representatives of the Ku Klux Klan—or the Black Panthers.
Until he was put on the 21-day disabled list, Denny McLain, his record 5 and 15, had a chance to become the first major-leaguer to both win and lose 30 games in single seasons. That he won 31 games in 1968 for Detroit, a good team, and is now pitching for Washington, a weak team, is only part of the explanation. McLain missed half of last season because of his suspension for a gambling involvement. His pitching effectiveness never returned.
In most sports, year-long absences have been costly. Curt Flood was hitting .200 before he quit earlier this year, no small letdown for a near .300 hitter. Paul Hornung returned after a year's gambling suspension and lost his field-goal touch; after 15 for 22 and 6 for 10 seasons, he made 12 of 38 attempts and probably cost the Green Bay Packers a title. And, of course, there is Muhammad Ali, 3½ years out of boxing and no longer heavyweight champion.
Some, like Ted Williams, Sugar Ray Robinson and Tony Conigliaro (until his eyesight failed), have been able to make noteworthy comebacks. But for the most part it seems that sabbaticals are fine for scholars but dreadful for athletes.
The current investigation of a supposedly fixed trotting race at Yonkers Raceway in New York has already revealed a pattern of failure as old as racing itself. The track, the state and the sport's owners, trainers and drivers, equal partners in profit in good times, are equal partners in guilt when inevitable trouble comes along.
Yonkers obviously has failed in its responsibility to keep crooks and racketeers away from the track. What has not been emphasized is that Yonkers has stubbornly refused for years to join the sportwide security agency headed by ex-FBI man John Brennan—an agency designed to keep out the thieves. By refusing, Yonkers has not only denied itself the benefits of that agency's efforts but hindered what should be a fully cooperative enterprise.
The state of New York, somnolent as usual about security until its tax money is threatened by lack of confidence among bettors, has neglected its own police powers. If its law enforcement people are not up to the task of putting known racketeers behind bars, they should at least be able to keep tabs on these crooks and alert track officials.
The horsemen may be the most hapless of the partners. Far from being the sophisticated group the public imagines, they, like most athletes, are almost totally immersed in the technicalities of their sport. They are oblivious to much that goes on around them. Their days begin at 6 a.m. and end at midnight, and consist of a constant preoccupation with bowed tendons, recalcitrant 2-year-olds, stakes payments and intrusive owners. They have the most to lose through scandal, yet they do the least to protect the sport they profess to love. Faced with recurring scandals that can destroy harness racing, the sport's big names—the Del Millers, Billy Haughtons, Joe O'Briens, Stanley Dancers—must start taking an active role in weeding out the weak, susceptible and plain crooked members of their profession.
CROWS, COYOTES AND GOLF
A big black bird, 10-year-old Stephanie Kinnett told her parents, had just dropped a golf ball in the back yard. Since such things do not happen in a Cincinnati suburb, the Kinnetts went right on watching TV.
A morning or two later the Kinnetts picked up eight golf balls in the yard and spotted a crow flying away. It had a nest in nearby woods. The balls were traced to the Crest Hills Country Club, which is a mile and a half away as the crow flies.
Meanwhile, in Bothell, Wash, a golfer at the Wayne Golf Club drove a ball into waist-high rough. After a fruitless search he and his group walked on. A short distance down the fairway, he came upon his ball. Unaccountably, it was mangled, as if it had been run over by a mower.
At the end of the round, he showed the ball to the club pro, who explained what had happened. A family of coyotes lives near the No. 6 hole. They chew on any ball hit near them, apparently in the hope that it might be an egg. Then, finding it inedible, they discard it—sometimes on the fairway.
POISONING OF THE WEST (CONT.)
If you have been wondering what progress is being made toward saving the vanishing American eagle, consider this:
Wyoming rancher Van Irvine was charged with eight counts of shooting antelope in an area closed to hunting, seven counts of hunting without a license, seven counts of abandoning a game animal and letting it needlessly go to waste and seven counts of using a game animal for bait. He pleaded no defense and was fined the minimum, $675.
Audubon Society members had turned up 22 dead eagles, poisoned by thallium sulphate, in the area, and federal investigators found antelope carcasses saturated with the poison on Irvine's Diamond Ring Ranch.
Not only did Irvine get off with the lowest possible fine, he was commended for breaking the law by the county prosecutor, John Burk, who said:
"I admire and respect Irvine for accepting full responsibility. Except for mineral interests, ranching is still the backbone of the state. Predator losses are a problem for all of them and predator control is more important than the loss of a few eagles."
The notion that the athlete, if he pursues sport too strenuously, will one day develop a condition known to medicine as "athletic heart," is hard to put down. But it is beginning to be expunged from the literature of the M.D. This month's Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey is a help in that regard.
The Journal quotes from Macmillan's just published Encyclopedia of Sports Sciences and Medicine and from a study by Dr. Dale Groom of Oklahoma, on the exceptional endurance capacities of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico (SI, Jan. 6, 1967).
"For the Tarahumara, running is the principal sport," the Journal says. "It is at the same time his livelihood, his recreation and his criterion for success, since he hunts deer by the simple method of running after one relentlessly for a couple of days until the animal drops from exhaustion. He also catches wild turkeys by pursuing them until they can no longer rise from the ground in flight.
"At play, he does even more prodigious feats. His 'kickball races,' played by teams of men kicking a wooden ball about the size of a tennis ball carved by a machete, extend for distances up to 150 miles. And this is no relay, each man runs the route."
But the Tarahumara has a heart of normal size, and medical studies have rarely found an instance of one falling dead from exhaustion or becoming fatally ill from his interminable running sessions.
To be sure, the Tarahumara does not quit running in his 20s and spend the rest of his life sitting down.
As Dr. George A. Sheehan of Red Bank, N.J. sums up: "Man's life expectancy—that of living each day at the top of his powers rather than longevity—depends on getting the utmost out of his body. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die would be O.K. if it were true. It isn't. The truth is—eat, drink and be merry and tomorrow you're gross."
If a Tarahumara ever enters the Boston Marathon, back him all the way.
HAIL AND FAREWELL
For the coaches of Bloomington (Ind.) High School this is a summer to forget. They must find replacements for the largest group of graduating star athletes in the school's history.
They need candidates to take the places of Dobby Grossman and Dave Brown from the unbeaten football team, Jack Deppe from the unbeaten state champion swimming team, Jim Cornwell and Marty Hutsell from the unbeaten state champion wrestling team and Frank Witney from the 20-5 baseball team.
Of the six, Grossman, Brown, Deppe and Cornwell were picked as high school All-Americas by national publications. Hutsell and Cornwell were chosen on a Top 50 list of the nation's prep wrestlers. And although there are no All-America baseball selections, Witney was recommended by major league scouts to the collegiate baseball program at Arizona State.
A gully once filled with empty whiskey bottles is becoming part of one of Utah's finest year-round resort areas. Owned and operated by the state's first residents, the Ute Indians, it has been named the Ute Bottle Hollow Resort. There are 42 luxury motel units, along with excellent swimming, boating and dining facilities.
The Ute tribe consists of 1,600 Indians living on a reservation that is 250 miles long and covers one million acres, much of the same fertile hunting and fishing area the Ute roamed in their early history. They have six reservoirs and 10 streams stocked with almost a quarter million cutthroat and rainbow trout. They hunt buffalo, deer, elk, bear, cougar, pheasant, chukar partridge, grouse, geese and wild turkey. Now they are making arrangements to guide hunting parties into the more remote areas of the reservation.
As to how Bottle Hollow got its name, you might think that it derived from the fact that the hollow was filled with bottles. Not entirely. Whiskey was not allowed on the Ute reservation in the settlers' days, so troopers of the U.S. Cavalry unit stationed at Fort Duchesne took care to drain their whiskey bottles before entering Ute country. They discarded their empties into a gully just outside the reservation border. Looking at the bottles, the Ute remarked that they were always hollow, i.e., empty.
THEY SAID IT
•Duane Thomas, Dallas Cowboy running back, asked if he had an IQ: "Sure I've got one. It's a perfect 20-20."
•Bill McClard of Arkansas, holder of the NCAA field-goal record (60 yards) and former Oklahoma high school shot-put champion, on why he gave up putting the shot: "Think what would happen if I dropped it on my toe."
•Lou Camilli of the Cleveland Indians: "Maybe they ought to change our name to the Cleveland Light Company. We don't have anything but utility men."
•Joseph Durso, The New York Times baseball writer, when asked how he got his stories from Boston to New York during the Western Union strike: "I take them to a professor at M.I.T., and he leaks them to The Times."
•Lee Trevino, recalling his boyhood: "My family was so poor they couldn't afford any kids. The lady next door had me."