1973 A. B. (AFTER BRUNDAGE)
Practically everybody who has anything to say about the Olympic Games was at the 10th Olympic Congress in Varna, Bulgaria, the first such Congress since 1930. Usually, the 74-man International Olympic Committee (or its nine-man executive board) meets to decide matters of Olympic import, but at Varna the IOC was joined by representatives from the 131 national Olympic committees and the 26 international sports federations. Much of the proceedings consisted of people from the lesser groups telling the IOC what it ought to do.
Thomas Keller, a Swiss who is chairman of the international sports federations, argued for a clarification of the complex rules dealing with Olympic eligibility. "Everyone knows that the entries for the Olympic Games have become largely an open exhibition of lying," he declared. He said each federation ought to assume responsibility for determining the amateur status of athletes in its sports, relieving the IOC and the national Olympic committees in this area. He also criticized host country organizing committees for the overabundance of glitter and ceremony during each Olympics. "Propaganda for politicians and gratification of human vanity," he called such displays. With other federation people Keller asked that the IOC yield to the federations a greater share of the administrative control of the Games.
Lord Killanin, the urbane Irishman who succeeded Avery Brundage as IOC president in 1972, said archly that he might subscribe to many of Keller's views if the language in which they were couched were more restrained. In this diplomatic way, Killanin opened the door to change, a startling concept in Olympic circles long used to the dogmatic rule of Brundage. The eligibility rule will be rewritten, the Olympic ceremonies will be reviewed, the size of the Olympics will be controlled (at Varna, over the objection of some of the federations, the IOC eliminated 10 events from the Olympic program, including three swimming races). Of the IOC itself, which has often been accused of being an antiquated, self-perpetuating hierarchy, Killanin said, "Under my presidency the IOC will not be the exclusive club it may have been some years ago."
The weekly Dallas football paper called Bob Lilly's Pro Report made no bones about its opposition to the congressional action banning blackouts of local telecasts of sold-out pro football games. This is what might happen, it said, if Congress ran pro football:
Vendors would be paid not to sell peanuts.
Garo Yepremian would be recognized as a foreign power and would be sent foreign aid and an ambassador.
Martha Mitchell would do the half-time show.
Philadelphia would be declared a disaster area and be granted 16 first-round draft choices for next season.
A Phase XXIII guideline would set ticket prices at $13.98.
A bill would be introduced making it illegal to defeat the Washington Redskins.
All coaches would take a junket to Red China in the off-season.
The top 50 players in the league would be sold to Russia.
A MATTER OF DEGREE
Michigan State, concerned about the number of student athletes who do not get their degrees, reports that only 51% of those who entered MSU on athletic-scholarships four years ago graduated with their class last June. Only 31% of the football players graduated and 20% of the basketball players. Track and field made the best showing of the larger sports with 76%.
Athletic Director Burt Smith says that a study of student athletes over a 10-year period showed that the percentage of those who graduated in four years stayed fairly consistently at 50%, but that eventually about 75% to 80% get their degrees. This seems to add weight to the argument that four-year athletes should be given five years of scholarships.
Clarence Underwood, an assistant athletic director whose duties include academic guidance of athletes, says, "I didn't take this job just to keep kids eligible to play sports. There has been a lot of criticism about athletes being used by schools and then left without a degree. We're trying to correct this. One of the problems is that a kid will hang on to his scholastic eligibility for a couple of years by taking survivor courses. But then he has to declare a major, and he's in trouble because he does not have enough credits in any one area to get a degree in four years."
In January 1972 Terry Daniels of Dallas fought Joe Frazier, then heavyweight champion of the world. Frazier knocked him out in the fourth round. Now Daniels, who is trying to make a comeback at 27 as a light heavyweight, is learning to box. Former welterweight champion Curtis Cokes, who is training Daniels, says he has to start from the beginning in teaching the fighter the fine points of the game.
"They saw a good product and rushed it too quickly," says Cokes. "He was never taught the fundamentals. He knows nothing about ducking, blocking or slipping punches. We have to start from scratch. Terry is back in school."
Perhaps it is embarrassing for Daniels to be learning the basics of his sport at this point. It should be embarrassing for boxing, too—if boxing were capable of being embarrassed—to realize that such a fighter was given a bout with the heavyweight champion of the world.
WHAT PRICE HOCKEY?
Folks around Burlington, Vt. are really angry at the people in Montreal, 80 miles to the north across the border of Quebec. Burlington had been televising Boston Bruin hockey games, but the Montreal Canadiens insisted that the telecasts be halted because they impinge on Canadien territory. Burlington is outside the 50-mile territorial limit hockey imposes, but the Canadiens say the TV signal comes whisking up Lake Champlain and into Montreal loud and clear as a referee's whistle.
The issue is still up in the air (or not up in the air, if you want to be technical about it), but the Vermonters are fighting. They've sent wires and letters to Congress and to Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada. The latest ploy concerns a man named Wayne Carlson, a fugitive from Canadian justice who was arrested by Burlington police. A citizen phoned a local call-in radio show and suggested that Burlington make a deal with Canada: Carlson for the Bruins.
Fraser Kent, medical writer for the Miami Herald, recently offered the premise that what football fans really want is blood. "The greatest excitement," he wrote, "appears to be directly related to the potential for, or the probability of, serious physical injury." This seems badly overstated. While the violence and brutal body contact of football may appeal to a substantial number of spectators, the excitement is always found in accomplishment, not injury. Gale Sayers running with the ball is a lot more satisfying to someone who likes football than Gale Sayers crumpled on the turf with a ruined knee.
Nonetheless, as Kent did establish, injuries are far from an incidental part of the game. "Just about anybody who has ever played football for any length of time has suffered for it later," said John McMurty of the University of Guelph in Ontario. And Dr. James A. Nicholas, the team physician of the New York Jets, who is best known for holding Joe Namath's knees together, said a survey indicates that a 47-man squad in the NFL can expect 15 major injuries and five operations during a 20-game season. Noting that the average actual playing time in a game is about 800 seconds, Nicholas said this was the highest injury rate per unit time played for any sport.
There is little doubt that American football is the roughest major organized sport in the world. Even so, the average fan does not watch it hoping someone will be maimed but to see fine athletes accomplish feats of high skill under extraordinarily difficult conditions.
Ohio State slightly increased the seating capacity of its stadium this year when the open benches were given new Fiberglas covers. The covers were renumbered and in one area the numbers were closer together than the old ones, which means more tickets printed for the same space. The trouble is that this also means the seating spaces are necessarily narrower where such renumbering took place. Each Buckeye bottom must squeeze into a space 17 to 17½ inches wide. However, according to local tailors the average width of a seated OSU fan is more like 18 to 20 inches, which makes for a lot of squeezing.
Fans in another section of the stadium have a different problem. Three rows of seats were added at the rear of the lower deck, which is fine unless you leap to your feet suddenly. The underside of a ramp to the upper deck may interrupt the upward leap of anyone more than 5 l/2 feet tall.
In sum, thin, short and hardheaded spectators are in demand at Ohio State.
When World Hockey Association teams decided to sign Canadian junior players (SCORECARD, Sept. 10), they had no idea of the problems that lay ahead. For instance, the Toronto Toros (some name, isn't it? Reminds you of the Mexico City Canucks) signed youthful Wayne Dillon, still in high school but an outstanding junior player. Last week the Toros were about to climb on the team bus to drive to an exhibition game in London, Ontario when it was discovered Dillon was late. Normally lateness is inexcusable and a fine is automatic. But when Dillon arrived he explained to General Manager Buck Houle that he couldn't help it: he had been kept after school. Houle was a shaken man. "I thought I had heard everything," he said.
FIT TO BE UNTIED
The NCAA will use a tie-breaking procedure in its Division II and Division III football tournaments this year. Eight teams will meet in the Division II tournament, with quarterfinals on Dec. 1, semifinals Dec. 8 and finals Dec. 15. Four teams will take part in Division III play on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8. Obviously, ties would ruin the schedule. So if a game ends all even, there will be a coin toss to determine which team gets possession and defends which goal. The team that gets possession puts the ball in play 15 yards from the opponent's goal line. If it does not score, the other team gets the ball on the other 15-yard line, and the game goes on until the tie is broken after an equal number of possessions. If Team A scores on its first possession, Team B then gets its chance to score and so on. Team A may hesitate before kicking a field goal, knowing that Team B may come back to score a touchdown and win. A defensive team cannot score. That is, an interception or a fumble merely gives the team possession.
It has been suggested that the tie breaker be employed in major bowl games, particularly if the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country are meeting for the unofficial national championship.
THEY SAID IT
•Henry Aaron, asked after the last day of the season what he thought he had done for baseball: "Maybe what I've done is create some new fans. At first there was a lot of that mail from people, older people, who didn't want me to break Babe Ruth's record. The young generation took notice of that, and supported me. I think they want to relate to me, to see me have a record, not someone their granddads saw play."
•Peter Farmer, Texas-El Paso weight thrower, on why he enjoys his event so much: "I like the sound it makes when it lands."
•Steve Zabel, Philadelphia Eagle linebacker, on the seeming aura of confidence about the Eagles despite their 0-3-1 record: "I've been here four years. We lost the first seven my first season and five in a row the last two. The way I look at it, we're off to our best start in years."