PROMISES TO KEEP
The Philadelphia Board of Education's decision last week to restore varsity sports and all extracurricular school activities was received with delight in that city's 18 high schools. "Break down the door!" yelled an exultant Roxborough High football player as the hastily reassembled team raced from the dressing room onto the practice field.
The school board's 100% turnaround (SI, Sept. 6) was the result of financial promises it received from city politicians. Retiring Mayor James H. J. Tate said that the $35 million needed to offset an anticipated deficit in the school-system budget (the extracurricular program, including sports, accounted for about $2.3 million of that deficit) would be forthcoming after all in the 1971-72 fiscal year. Of the $35 million, $20 million is expected to come from the Federal Government under President Nixon's revenue-sharing program, which is still being considered by Congress, and another $7 million from a proposed increase (from 2% to 5%) in the state tax on pari-mutuel betting at Liberty Bell Park.
Even though this means that the money is still anticipatory, Republican mayoralty candidate Thacher Longstreth and 13 of the 15 Republican candidates for the city council have declared that, if elected, they would produce whatever money was needed, and Frank Rizzo, the conservative Democratic candidate for mayor, made a similar promise.
A relieved, if slightly cynical, comment on the situation came from another Roxborough player. "It wasn't looking too good in the summer," he said, "and I felt for a while there might not be any football at all. But then I thought that by the time of the election they'd come through with the money."
Pro football fans have howled for years about the practice many clubs follow of sticking preseason exhibition games into season-ticket plans. If you want a seat for the seven regular-season home games, the would-be spectator was told, then, baby, you got to buy tickets to the exhibitions, too.
Now a strong precedent has been established in favor of the fan who wants the privilege of taking his exhibitions or leaving them alone. Massachusetts Attorney General Robert H. Quinn advised the New England Patriots that if they persisted in tying preseason games to their season-ticket packages, the club would be subject to antitrust action. Last week Billy Sullivan, president of the Patriots, bowed to the deterring arm of the law and announced that his team wouldn't do it anymore.
Once again, Boston may be the cradle of liberty. How far will this rebellion spread?
TEDDY TELLS 'EM
Ted Williams, reacting to recent player uprisings (the Cubs, for instance, and the Red Sox), had some pungent comments. "I'll tell you who's responsible for all this flak," he said. "It's the owners. They're responsible for all this namby-pamby stuff, this deterioration of baseball. They've all got to get tough, that's all there is to it. They can't let the players run this game. Imagine owners like Yawkey and Wrigley having problems with players—all this dissension and griping and rebellion. It's a shame. If I was an owner and the kind of flak they've been putting up with went on, I'd go right down and straighten out anybody who popped off."
UNDER TWO FLAGS
Almost obscured in the Olympic flap about South Africa in 1968 was the fact that Rhodesia was not invited to the Mexico City Games. Rhodesia is a white-run country in the heart of the Dark Continent but, unlike South Africa, it does not have segregated sports. Even so, its rebellion against Britain and its declaration of independence had racist overtones that aroused antagonism.
Now, in a ploy that Solomon would have admired, it is Olympic-bound again. Since independent Rhodesia is still not recognized by most other governments, the International Olympic Committee suggested the Rhodesians go back to using the same Union Jack flag and God Save the Queen anthem that they had at Tokyo in 1964. This proposal was approved by an almost unanimous vote of delegates from 80 national Olympic committees. The Rhodesian delegates said it was fine with them. R. W. Grant-Stuart, president of the Rhodesian Olympic Committee, and Ossie Plaskett, secretary-general, reportedly told Avery Brundage: "We are sportsmen and are not interested in politics. We are willing to compete under any flag."
LOS IRLANDESES COMBATIENTES
Notre Dame will play the National University of Mexico in Mexico City on Saturday, Oct. 23. No, not the Notre Dame, or at least not Ara Parseghian's varsity, which meets Southern California that afternoon in South Bend. The Irish in Mexico City will be the Notre Dame freshmen—but don't let that mislead you into thinking that the game south of the border will be a casual little affair played behind a bodega somewhere. The freshmen will appear before a far larger crowd than the Notre Dame varsity will; officials in Mexico City expect at least 80,000 spectators to come out to huge Aztec Stadium, and there could be as many as 100,000. Back in South Bend the varsity will draw a measly little capacity crowd of 59,075.
The University of Mexico has five or six separate teams, from which an all-star squad will be selected for the big game. Ticket prices will be on a somewhat more modest scale than big-time college football is accustomed to. In South Bend, people will pay $7 and $8 for their seats. In Mexico City, the aficionados will spring for either four or five pesos, about 30¢ to 40¢, so gate receipts won't be a tenth the size of the take in South Bend. Even so, a crowd of 80,000—that's a lot of olés.
Ever hear of a pitcher making an unassisted double play? On a ground ball? At second base? Stand back now. It happened in an American Association game between the Denver Bears and the Wichita Aeros. One out, man on second. Pitcher Jackie Brown of Denver fielded a hot ground ball. The man on second moved a little too far toward third before stopping, and Brown, instead of throwing to first base for a routine out, sprinted toward the runner, who suddenly found himself trapped off base. Brown ran him back toward second and faked a throw to that base. The runner fell for the fake, turned again toward third and Brown tagged him out. Meanwhile, the batter, seeing the rundown, rounded first and tried to make it into second. Brown spotted him, raced to the bag and tagged him out, too.
Why he bothers having infielders around, no one knows.
A LITTLE FUN
Minibikes are dangerous, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It estimates that more than 1.5 million of the popular little machines—which are sort of mini-motorcycles powered by engines of the lawnmower type—will be in use this year, almost all of them operated by youngsters between 10 and 14. Riding a bike in a nontraffic area under parental supervision can be safe, the agency grants, but adds that it becomes "a high-risk vehicle on sidewalks and roadways. Minibikes are noted for poor handling characteristics because of their short wheelbase and small tires." They lack the acceleration needed in traffic and are difficult for automobile drivers to see because of their small size. Yet they are capable of speeds of 25 to 45 mph.
Children's Supermarts, Inc., the largest retail toy-store chain in the District of Columbia metropolitan area, refuses to carry minibikes. A company official said the decision not to stock the bikes was made after an employee riding a minibike in a store parking lot was unable to brake in time to avoid hitting a telephone pole. He was knocked unconscious and hospitalized.
Jim Bouton, the pitcher-author, is lucky he is neither British nor a poet. American critics, with the exception of people like Bowie Kuhn and Sportswriter Dick Young, were generally kind in their comments on Bouton's prose. British critics, on the other hand, were uncomfortably direct in their reaction to the published work of John Snow, a British counterpart of Bouton who is also a pitcher—more precisely, a cricket bowler—and a published writer. But Snow writes poetry with lines like,
"What if eternal darkness slapped your face/ Or a noseless man touched your hand,/Would the puking rise/ From where it lies,/Would you feel small/A part of the damned?" Alan Ross, poet, critic and onetime cricketer himself, said of Snow's verse: 'These 15 or so doodles are limp in rhythm, trite in sentiment, and weak in grammar and just about everything else." For good measure, Ross also had an unkind word about the poet as cricket player, implying that the fast-balling Snow (who has a habit of throwing dusters, called bumpers in Britain) dogs it in relatively unimportant county matches, whereas he is always gung-ho when he plays for England in international competition.
Like Bouton, Snow reacted to the criticism mildly but pointedly (Bouton used a Dick Young phrase as the title of his second book). Snow said he really did not mind if his poetry was disliked and then added that he had not known Ross wrote poetry, too. After sampling a bit of his critic's work the bowler put it down with, "Not bad. But it's not very lively, is it?" He had nothing to say about Ross' cricket playing.
Football coaches seem more concerned with long hair than almost anybody else, and when Lee Corso, the University of Louisville coach, was on a radio call-in show the other day, inevitably one of the callers asked him about his players' long hair. Corso replied that he paid little attention to it as long as they produced on the field. For example, John Madeya, an All-America candidate, has collar-length hair and a Gay '90s mustache. Kicker Scott Marcus has his hair in what he calls a Jewish Afro.
As the hair discussion ended, another call came for Corso, this one from his 10-year-old son David, who was listening at home. "Daddy," said David, "if you let your players wear their hair as long as they want, why won't you let me?"
The usually talkative Corso was stumped. Finally, he said, "You're not old enough to decide that yet, son." And then, after a menacing pause, he added, "Just wait till I get home."
AMBUSH AT THE GAP
These generation gaps reveal themselves in unanticipated ways. A man in New Jersey entertaining his 10-year-old grandson noticed the boy seemed bored with the TV show they happened to be watching. Remembering what it was like to be a boy, the grandfather asked if the youngster would rather watch cowboys and Indians. Eagerly, the boy said he sure would, and the grandfather switched the dial around until the inevitable chase through a gulch appeared on the screen. Gramps sat back, satisfied, but an unhappy frown appeared on the boy's forehead. "Gee," he muttered, "I thought you meant a football game."
THEY SAID IT
•Red Auerbach, former Boston Celtic coach, now general manager, on why he would not want to coach professional basketball again: "Besides the fact that it wouldn't sit right at home, I have to be realistic. Whatever I might do now would be anticlimactic. I wouldn't want to be compared to other coaches who retired, then made comebacks and didn't do as well as previously."
•Edward Bennett Williams, Washington Redskins president, on Coach George Allen's trading preferences: "His father gave him a six-week-old puppy when he was four, and he traded it away for two 12-year-old cats."
•Bill van Breda Kolff, Detroit Pistons coach, on the price of technical fouls going up from $25 to $50 this year: "They can't hit me with fifty bucks—not with President Nixon's freeze on."