MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Everybody should have been happy when hockey's Super Bowl on ice, a dream match between NHL stars and Russia's veteran state amateurs, was scheduled for this coming September. Four games in Canada, four more in Russia, and that would answer the long-standing question: Is Russia, winner of three Straight Olympic titles and nine straight world championships (before being upset by the Czechs in March), equal to the National Hockey League's best?
Players generally were excited by the prospect. "I'd love to play," said Brad Park of the New York Rangers. "It's a hell of an idea." Derek Sanderson of the Boston Bruins said, "Anytime, anywhere, any rink and under any conditions." Red Berenson, president of the NHL players' association, said he thought most of his colleagues would feel honored to be a part of the team. It's love of the game," he said. "We represent the best hockey in the world. It would be the NHL vs. international hockey."
But several NHL owners were vigorously opposed to letting their stars play in the games, ostensibly because they fear the possibility of disabling injury. "No way!" said Boston's Weston Adams Jr. when asked if he would give permission for Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito to appear against the Russians. The St. Louis Blues took a similar stand, and Punch Imlach, crusty coach of the Buffalo Sabres, attempted to deflate the entire idea by growling, "Besides, we're playing the wrong team. The Czechs are the world champions."
Technically, yes. But not really. The Russians are the team the pros want to meet. Let them play. It will be fun to watch and a stimulus for hockey.
The University of Minnesota's film highlights of the 1971-72 basketball season, in which Minnesota won its first undisputed Big Ten championship in 53 years, does not include anything on its Jan. 25th game with Ohio State.
Another low spot for Minnesota is its financial situation. Athletic Director Paul Giel says that next year his department may have to ask the Minnesota legislature for financial aid. Giel feels that any expected increase in football attendance will not put much of a dent in a current deficit of $300,000, and it might not even be enough to take care of anticipated increases in expenses, including coaches' salaries. Years ago, big-time college sport was not only financially independent, it supported other activities as well. In 1937 Minnesota's athletic department contributed $100,000 toward the building of the campus student union, and it was the financial angel of the physical education department. Now physical education is separate from intercollegiate sport and is supported directly by the university administration.
Giel's headache is one shared by athletic directors in many schools, where even winning football and basketball teams, with concomitant high attendance, are not paying their own way.
DOWN TO THE SEA
The University of Pennsylvania crew had a slight lead over Harvard and Navy at the halfway point in its 2,000-meter race last Saturday and might have gone on to victory except for a technical problem. Its boat sank. The shell, a brand-new one, had been christened before the race in honor of Joe Burk, the old Penn single sculls star and former crew coach who came all the way to Philadelphia from his retirement home in Arizona for the occasion. The ceremony went calmly but the river was rough and a fabric cover over the forward deck let go. The Penn oarsmen rowed on gallantly for a bit, but when water began swirling around their ankles they gave up and went down with the ship.
The crew, which had been confident of victory, surfaced wet, frustrated and angry. Burk, more philosophical, said, "Maybe we shouldn't have used champagne at the christening."
CON AND PRO
College football, which has come in for considerable criticism lately, received mixed reviews this week. One of the questions in a survey of 70 members of the University of North Carolina squad by Offensive Tackle George Simpson, a journalism and psychology major, asked whether the players would stay in foot-hall if they were not receiving grants-in-aid. Of the 44 who answered the survey, a surprising 38 said no, and only three said yes. A majority complained that the college game was too "professionalized" and offered comments like, "Coaches are paranoid over winning games" and "There is no concern for the welfare, especially academically, of the players." Others said. "Football is no fun" and "Football takes up too much time."
A far more positive reaction to the game comes from the University of Texas, where a reunion of the 1963 national champions disclosed some interesting postfootball accomplishments. Of the 47 men who won letters in 1963, 44 went on to receive their degrees from the university. Several continued studies for advanced degrees, and two are still attending graduate school.
Eight of the lettermen became lawyers. One became a bank president. Among the others are an architect, an engineer, a mathematics professor, a New York investment banker and the mayor of Hondo, Texas.
The prognosis on Gene Littler, who underwent surgery for cancer last month, appears to be excellent. A malignant tumor was taken from his left arm, but lymph nodes, later removed, showed no further evidence of cancer. What is of immediate concern now to Littler, who is noted for the graceful smoothness of his swing, is the damage that the surgery did to the nerves and muscles of his arm. He has been receiving therapy three times a week but says, "I can do a few things I couldn't do a few weeks ago, but getting into competitive shape is going to take a long time. It's as though I'm speaking English to a foreign arm." He does not expect to play tournament golf this year.
Despite this, Littler, as you might expect from such a man, is in excellent spirits and says he feels fine. A real pro.
The Munich Olympics will see a departure in the method of handling the traditional Olympic movie. Heretofore, it has always been an individual responsibility, and the individual has been a native of the host country. This time David Wolper, Hollywood producer, will be in charge, and 10 directors from 10 countries will do segments of the final film. The directorial cast is exceptional: Claude Lelouch of France, Milos Formal! of Czechoslovakia, Kon Ichikawa of Japan, Yuri Ozerov of the Soviet Union, Arthur Penn of the U.S., John Schlesinger of Great Britain. Franco Zeffirelli of Italy, Ousmane Sembene of Senegal and Mai Zetterling of Sweden. A German director is still to be named.
Stan Margulies, co-producer for Wolper Pictures, says, "Each man—or better make that director, since Zetterling is a woman—will interpret the part of the Games that interests him most. Arthur Penn will concentrate on Bobby Lee Hunter, the South Carolina convict and prospective Olympic boxer [page 64]. Ichikawa, who did the entire 1964 film at Tokyo, will focus on the 100-meter dash. Mai Zetterling will do weight lifters, Sembene the role of the emerging African nations, and so on. There is no story, no shooting script, no continuity established. All that will come when the shooting is over, when each director is finished."
Wolper got the idea for doing the Olympics a year ago when he was in Germany finishing his film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He was curious as to who might be doing the Olympic movie, inquired and found out nothing had yet been decided. The organizing committee had several applicants but had accepted none of them.
Back in California, Wolper and company mulled things and came up with the 10-director concept. "We went back to the Organizing Committee," says Margulies, "explained our idea and got the rights. I believe one of the things that clinched it for us was that we did not ask for a subsidy. Everyone else who applied did. All we wanted was the right to film the Games. They would put up nothing. We would use that good old American risk capital and gamble with our dough."
The film is budgeted for $2 million and is expected to be released early in 1973. "It's a project you dream about," says Margulies.
This sounds as if it came straight from Alice in Wonderland. In Texas Stadium this Friday college bands are playing four 15-minute quarters, sandwiched around a halftime show featuring the Dallas Cowboys. Shall we run that through again? Braniff International airlines is putting up $25,000 in music scholarship funds for a contest among bands from Grambling, Jackson State, Southern University and Bishop College of Dallas. Each band is on the field for 15 minutes. At halftime a squad of Cowboys led by Roger Staubach meets another squad led by Craig Morton in a 20-minute game of flag football, a variation of touch. Then back to the serious business of march, tootle and strut.
Almost makes you wish the football season hadn't ended so soon.
BROKEN FIELD RUNNER
Or did the football season ever end? Just the Other day a contest that was classic in certain respects was played during Kansas State's spring practice. Before an intrasquad game, Head Coach Vince Gibson asked Bob Hentzen of the Topeka Capital-Journal to coach the White team and David Wright of the Manhattan Mercury to coach the Purple side. It worked out beautifully for Gibson, who wanted to give the newspapermen a taste of what it is like to be a coach under pressure. With seven minutes to go, the underdog White squad scored a touchdown to narrow the score to 16-15. Now Acting Coach Hentzen had to make a quick decision: play it safe and go for a one-point kick and the tie, or gamble on a two-point conversion that could give him the lead. Hentzen opted for the kick, and when the game ended 16-16 he was sternly questioned by erstwhile associates in the sporting press who implied that he was chicken. With coachly aplomb, Hentzen said not at all. "There was plenty of time left," he rationalized in the way of countless coaches before him. "All afternoon we had showed our ability to move the ball. I was sure we could score again."
A wishy-washy answer, charged a reporter from Hentzen's own paper. And later Hentzen confided that he had not been all that keen about winning anyway, especially since lie had heard the victorious coach would be shoved into a shower. Besides, he argued, gathering momentum, it would have hurt Kansas State's morale if its favored Purple squad had lost the game.
There is a man with a future. Anybody need an adroit head coach?
THEY SAID IT
•Spiro Agnew, after he was grazed by a tennis ball hit by his partner in a doubles match: "They never tell about it when I get hit."
•Jack Kelly, president of the AAU, on rules governing amateur sport: "If every illegal sex act were policed properly, 75% of the population would have been in jail. The same goes for amateur athletes. There are few world class amateurs left in any sport."
•Elrod Hendricks, Baltimore Oriole catcher, using 250-pound Boog Powell and the team's portly trainer Ralph Sal-von as measuring sticks to describe his spacious living quarters: "Me and Cuellar's room is big enough to sleep three Boogs and two Ralphs."
•Frank Robinson, Los Angeles Dodger outfielder, on his secret ambition: "I'd really like to be an Indy driver. I'm serious. I'm intrigued by the speed and skill involved. But considering my age and lack of experience, I guess I'll never be able to be one."