Canada may be embarrassed by its stunning losses in hockey to the Soviet Union, but defeat in itself is merely shocking. What is shameful is the defection of four Team Canada players, who stamped their feet like children and said they would take their skates and go home because they were not playing enough. Coach Harry Sinden had to pick and choose the right complement for each game; the players he overlooked for one reason or another had at least a moral obligation to remain with the squad. In quitting and going home, Vic Hadfield, Rick Martin, Jocelyn Guevremont and Gil Perreault disgraced Canadian hockey, and perhaps they personified the reasons for Canada's astonishing failure. Consider the statement by Perreault, who said he was returning to North America because he was not in shape and wanted to be by the beginning of the National Hockey League season. If he was not in shape, he should not have been on Team Canada in the first place. And neither should have Hadfield, Martin, Guevremont or any others who were not eager and ready to do their best.
Small, possibly unfair note on the decline of Big Ten football fortunes: the longest current winning streak among Big Ten teams is two.
RETURN OF THE BARON
Adolph Rupp, who at 71 was obliged to retire last year as head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, quickly moved into the professional ranks as president, no less, of Charles O. Finley's Memphis Tarns in the ABA. It seemed heretical for Rupp, a longtime bastion of the college game, to join the pros, but the old Baron says this isn't so at all. In fact, he says his greatest contribution to professional basketball so far has been a move to protect the colleges from pro raiding. At the ABA's first meeting this year, he says, he and Finley helped persuade the league to adopt a resolution declaring it would not draft college underclassmen.
"Finley and I went into the meeting," Rupp says, "and insisted to the other owners that there be no more raiding. At first they all disagreed, but by the time we left the vote was unanimous.
"I know some people have questioned my joining the pros after all my years of blasting their tactics, but I justify it by what I can get done to help the colleges."
And, of course, the nonraiding rule would do a lot to stabilize the professional game, too.
JULIUS ALL OVER
Stabilization is something professional basketball has a remarkably short supply of. The latest example is the flitting about of Julius Erving, who was signed by an agent after his junior year at the University of Massachusetts. The agent offered Erving to the New York Nets, who said no, and to the Virginia Squires, who said yes. After he completed his rookie year in the ABA last spring, Erving jumped to the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA. Meantime, because his class had graduated, he was subject to the NBA draft and was tapped by the Milwaukee Bucks, and the NBA board of governors subsequently ruled that he belonged to Milwaukee rather than Atlanta. Neither Erving nor Atlanta agreed.
Last weekend the comedy of confusion reached all sorts of highs. Virginia played an exhibition game in Springfield, Mass., not far from the University of Massachusetts, which it had originally scheduled with the idea of showing Julius off to the home crowd. But Julius was in Frankfort, Ky., defying the NBA ruling by playing with Atlanta against the Kentucky Colonels. It is possible, if unlikely, that various legal actions could result in Erving playing exhibition games against the Colonels in three different uniforms (Atlanta, Virginia, Milwaukee) before the regular season begins. Since in his Atlanta guise Julius played 42 minutes, had 28 points and 18 rebounds, the very idea is enough to give the Colonels nightmares.
Freshmen football players at the University of Houston sport shaved heads. The custom is part of football tradition at Houston, but to a nonfootball-playing psychology student named Rick Brass it is an imposed indignity and therefore appalling.
"It's demeaning to the campus in general," he said. "Anyone who cares about people would be insulted by this type of activity." He told university administrators it constituted hazing, which is prohibited by Texas state law. The law says further that a member of the faculty or administration who knowingly permits hazing and refuses to report it can be suspended for three years, fined up to $500 and sent to jail for 30 days.
Brass said it was necessary for a shaven freshman to complain before legal action could be taken and conceded that because of the close ties among football players it was unlikely such a complaint would be forthcoming. "Stopping the shaving is going to have to come from outside football," he said. "Nobody wants to take away the prestige that goes with being a football player. All I want to do is have them stop violating somebody's rights, which is what shaving heads is."
Faced with the situation, head Football Coach Bill Yeoman said, wearily, "Five or six years ago the freshmen themselves decided to shave their heads. It's been done ever since." Asked if the freshmen did it to themselves, Yeoman said, "I'm not interested."
SECOND CITY'S SECOND PLAYER
Much attention has been paid this season to that baseball player in Chicago whose batting average is .309, who has hit 37 home runs and who has driven in 112 runs, a performance that has contributed handsomely to his team's strong second-place standing. Curiously, even sadly, almost no attention has been paid to that other player in the nation's Second City whose average is .335, who has hit 34 home runs and who has driven in 114 runs, a performance that has contributed handsomely to his team's strong second-place standing. While Dick Allen of the White Sox has been in the spotlight all year and seems a good bet for the American League's Most Valuable Player Award, the obscure Billy Williams of the Cubs has been going along having what for him is almost a routine superb season. Two years ago he finished with 42 home runs, 129 runs batted in, a .322 batting average and no glory. Most of that, including the Most Valuable Player Award, went to Johnny Bench, whose Cincinnati Reds won the pennant. Bench may win the MVP again this season, or perhaps Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates will, although neither is having as good a year as Williams. But MVP awards generally go with pennants or publicity, and Williams has had neither. It appears then that he will have to be satisfied with knowing that year in and year out he is just about the best hitter in baseball.
When Bobby Fischer returned to New York last week from Iceland after becoming heavyweight chess champion, politicians rushed to welcome him with wit that flowed like mucilage. Bobby Fischer Day scarcely approached the historic greetings accorded Charles Lindbergh or Amelia Earhart, but several hundred natives, including Mayor Lindsay, gathered to pun. A banner over the City Hall portico had a drawing of a chess piece and the legend "Welcome Bobby Fischer, World's Chess Champion." Since New York City always lives beyond its means, the reverse side of the secondhand banner read, "Welcome Apollo 16."
The mayor opened the day by telling a smiling Fischer, "It is not within my power to make you a bishop, a knight or a king." He called the champ well-nigh unique, and "an authentic Brooklyn genius." As Fischer was born in Chicago, though raised in Brooklyn, Mayor Daley seems entitled to equal time. Sebastian Leone, borough president of Brooklyn, rose to remark that Brooklynites came to the ceremony secure in the knowledge that "for the first time in our lives we were not going to get rooked when we got to Manhattan." Getting into the thickness of the occasion, Fischer replied, "I would like to deny a vicious rumor going around. It is not true that Henry Kissinger phoned me early to tell me the moves."
Next day in The New York Times a caption under a photograph of Fischer and Lindsay read "Good Move." Not to be daunted, The Daily News had captions that said, "They All Came Out to Check the King," and "A thousand or so of Fischer's fans are but pawns in his hands at City Hall ceremonies yesterday."
The mayor, the borough president, Fischer and the papers were lucky to get a draw, but it was clear that New York deserved to be the intellectual capital of the world.
Everyone had high hopes for the first World Baseball Classic (SCORECARD, Sept. 4), an ambitious attempt to determine by round-robin tournament the best minor league baseball team in the world. Played over 10 days in Honolulu, it was also supposed to be a kind of trial balloon for Hawaii's future as a major league city and the key link in an eventual worldwide baseball circuit that would include Tokyo. "I will forecast," said Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, "that this is the start of baseball's future."
Alas. The World Baseball Classic was a world classic flop. The 10 nights of competition had a total attendance of 10,923. The championship game between the Albuquerque Dukes of the Pacific Coast League and a team of Venezuelan All-Stars drew 922 people. Most Little League games do better than that.
The players were supposed to split 30% of the gate receipts. If the promoters had stuck to that idea, each member of the winning team would have received $9.72 as his winner's share. Kodak, which sponsored the tournament, hurriedly set up a $32,000 pot, which let the players take home shares ranging up to a maximum of $350.
O.K., Bowie, back to the drawing board. The future is still ahead.
THE HAIRSTON RACKETS
The Houston Rockets of the NBA had phoned ahead for reservations at an El Paso hotel and were naturally pleased, when they arrived in that city, to find their reservations were in order. Except for a certain variation in the spelling of their names. Coach Tex Winter found his name listed as Tex Weimer. Jimmy Walker had become Jimmy Rocker. Jack Marin was Jack Moran, Dick Vandervoort Dick Vanderbilt, Cliff Meely Cliff Neely and Mike Newlin Mike Neiland. John Egan was respelled Egen, and Roy Patterson had become Ray. Rudy Tomjanovich had changed only slightly, to Rudy Tomjanovice, but John Vallely had metamorphosed into John Bulley. Only Don and Greg Smith had no problem.
"When I called in," said Vandervoort, who functions as trainer and traveling secretary, "the guy told me to hold it, he'd get his secretary to take down the names because she knew shorthand. I started again and she never once asked me to respell a name. She didn't even flinch when I said Tomjanovich. I thought, 'Man, this girl must be sharp.' "
THEY SAID IT
•Grant Teaff, new head coach at Baylor, which last won a Southwest Conference football championship in 1924: "Patience is our biggest problem."
•Bill Fulcher, Georgia Tech football coach: "Things are so specialized now. Even the kicking game. We have a short-range field-goal kicker, an intermediate-range field-goal kicker and a long-range field-goal kicker. We're going to start working on a left hash-mark kicker and a right hash-mark kicker."
•Judge James F. Gordon, U.S. District Court jurist, at a dinner in Louisville for Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist: "Welcome to the land of fine bourbon, beautiful women, fast horses and Butazolidin."