THE IOC AND THE U.S.S.R.
There was something ominous in the remarks of Lord Killanin when finally he emerged from behind closed doors in Vienna's cathedral-like City Hall to announce that the International Olympic Committee had awarded the 1980 Games to Moscow. "We will try to see that facilities are speeded up, because frequently it takes a long time to get visas," the IOC president said. Athletes who already have run into the strange delays and bureaucratic intransigence of Russian hospitality can appreciate what Killanin means, but they can hardly be reassured by those words, or by another of his statements: "We realize there are restrictions in the Soviet Union, and we did not ask that all of them be lifted." Oh?
Lord Killanin seemed only to add to the air of unreality that surrounded the week-long deliberations of his committee, evidence perhaps of the quandary in which the IOC finds itself in so many areas—damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. Germany's Willi Daume, a vice-president, rushed out of an eligibility conference in a rage, declaring, "This decision will weaken the national Olympic committees and the IOC." He had a point. Rule 26 on eligibility had been liberalized. Athletes could now be paid by the different sports federations for time spent training for the Games and competing in them, yet a subarticle professing the ideals of strict amateurism was retained. As a sop to the federations, which might find themselves financially stretched, athletes were permitted to exhibit brand names on their equipment—as long as they give the money they receive from sponsoring companies to the federations and exhibit no brands at the Olympics. Curious.
The IOC came out foursquare against the elaborate spectacles of the past and was pleased to accept Lake Placid's modest bid (page 28), but it succumbed to the Soviets' $150,000 publicity blitz and promises of huge expenditures on the Games that would include 40 new hotels. It also came out hard against the extreme nationalism that has led teams of one country to refuse to compete against those of another. But nothing was said of changing the blatantly nationalistic character of Olympic ceremonies themselves.
The Russians appeared to be genuinely trying to please, although equally enigmatic. Yes, the press would be free, tourists would be able to travel (to certain sections); no, Jews will not be baited or audiences loaded; yes, even South Koreans will be admitted. But at last year's University Games, U.S. athletes were not allowed to leave their dormitories. "We had to take security precautions. The sportsmen should have rest and not be disturbed," the leader of the Russian delegation said.
It is six years to the Moscow Olympics. What seems bothersome now may no longer be a problem by 1980. There are those in the IOC who believe that giving the Games to Moscow will help in the process of detente and that our worst suspicions are just that. Suspicions. Let us hope.
In palmier days, when the prices were right and the market healthy, a hat trick in New York's Madison Square Garden would have produced a minimum of a dozen hats on the rink. Last week, after Ranger Bill Fairbairn's third goal, one lonely lid sailed onto the ice. Probably Nelson Rockefeller's.
NEXT TIME, DEL, TRY HARDER
The horse that most likely will bring the top auction price at the Tattersalls Standardbred Sale in Lexington, Ky. later this month is a 5-year-old mare named Delmonica Hanover who, among other things, won the $200,000 Roosevelt International Trot both this year and last and, in January, the $165,000 Prix d'Amerique at Vincennes, France. Toss in 42 other career victories and earnings to date of $704,999 and you have one of the outstanding mares in the history of trotting—seventh on the alltime list of money winners.
The start of Delmonica's career was not exactly auspicious, co-owner Del Miller recalls. He went up to Harrisburg, Pa. four years ago and bought her at auction for the almost insignificant sum of $5,000. When he called his partner, Arnold Hanger, and told him what he had done, Hanger's reaction was immediate and negative.
"Del," he wailed, "why didn't you buy us a good one?"
RIDERS IN THE SKY
You could do worse than to hitch your $2 bet to the stars, says Sydney Omarr, who is a horoscope columnist when he is not touting the astrological signs of jockeys. His best bets for the coming months:
"The Cancer jockey is an ideal rider for mares and fillies. The rides, though not sensational, are steady. He makes his horse live up to potential, rides to form. He prefers older horses, who seem to respond to his touch. Best month to ride in the money: November.
"The Leo jockey has charisma, color and a sense of drama. He is an ideal rider of champions, shines in stakes races, often seems to let down in run-of-the-mill competition. Responds to crowd reaction more than the average rider. Following a losing effort, often delights and surprises with a superb comeback race. Best winning month is December.
"The Libra jockey has grace and a special touch. He always gives an even race, making his horse live up to form, but never pushing an animal beyond its capacity. Seldom disappoints when up on a favorite. He has real insight in understanding a horse. Best month is February."
In January, stargazers, nobody rides good.
THROWING THE BULL
James Harris, the Los Angeles Rams' new starting quarterback (page 22), always had fast hands, but he believes it was his quick reactions 10 years ago that got him where he is today.
"I had a lot of recruiting offers in high school," he said last week. "I remember this one coach at a Big Ten college. He said he liked my size, and then said, 'Hey, let's go out and throw a few.' So we went down to the field and started passing.
"Man, was he awful. He'd throw one up high and another down by my shoe tops and then one off to the left and then to the right. Finally we stopped, and he said, 'Harris, you really got the good hands.'
"All of a sudden I knew what he meant. I'd be shifted to a quota position, like wide receiver. That's when I decided I'd go to Grambling. They don't mind taking a black quarterback there."
THE BATTLE DOWN UNDER
"It's like pressure you've never seen. I'm sure leading the Masters or the U.S. Open couldn't be worse." The place was the San Antonio Open and the speaker was second-year pro Joe Inman Jr., who, like Satchel Paige, wasn't looking back for fear somebody might be gaining.
In the San Antonio Open? Well, yes. The tournament itself was not so important, but what happened to Inman and a gaggle of other nervous golfers was. San Antonio, with the exception of this week's doubles match at Disney World, is the last stop on the year's tour and the last chance to finish among the top 60 money earners. For those who make the cut, there will be no Blue Monday qualifying rounds in 1975. In pro golf circles, playing on Mondays is about as popular as three-a-day football workouts in August.
Ranged close to Inman going into San Antonio were Steve Melnyk, Sam Snead, Larry Hinson, Jim Jamieson, Kermit Zarley and Bob Stanton. Inman was 40th after the Canadian Open, but a sore elbow had cut him down, and he knew he had to do well in Texas. He tied for 13th and ended 55th for the year. Melnyk tied for 22nd and was 58th; Jamieson tied for 10th and had 59th for himself; but the luckiest finisher—outside of Snead, who had a lifetime exemption—was Stanton, an Australian. By taking seventh in the tournament he landed 60th in the rankings, dooming Zarley and Hinson to the boondocks. This is one time where being low man on the totem pole can feel awfully high.
When the Big Eight adopted the 30-second clock for league basketball games, it was predicted that limiting the time a team might hold the ball without shooting would turn the good college game into a second-class pro show. It has not worked out that way, according to Ted Owens, coach at the University of Kansas for the past nine years, but that fact has made hardly an impression on observers outside the Big Eight.
"The rule hasn't stereotyped the game as people thought it would," Owens told a reporter before Kansas lost to Marquette in the NCAA semifinals last spring. "We feel we have time to attack zones and man-to-man defenses."
In the first season the rule was operative, the Jayhawks averaged fewer points a game than they had the previous season, but not because Kansas was stalling. As a matter of fact, the whole conference was charged with only seven 30-second violations. In the season just past the average score was up a bit. Kansas went over 100 points twice, but it also won two games while scoring 55 and 51 points.
The new season begins in a few weeks. Before it is over, there are going to be outraged shouts from paying patrons who have sat through entire halves waiting for a team to indulge itself in the excruciating pleasure of taking exactly one shot at the basket. Hopefully, the Big Eight experience will wake up college rules makers before the country goes to sleep.
JFK Stadium was a quagmire. Rain drove mercilessly into the 750 shivering Philadelphia Bell fans, yet there ran Rick Eber of the Shreveport Steamer, gathering in passes as though he were the original glue-fingered end. Turned out he wasn't. Tack-fingered is a better description. Eber had small thumb tacks taped to his fingertips. The penalty for sharpening up one's pass catching is 15 yards—unsportsmanlike conduct—but Eber wasn't worrying. He was not found out until after he had hauled in the winning touchdown. "We needed the win," he said.
THE INFLUENCE-ZA BLOC
Football coaches, on their best days seething bundles of fear and suspicion, might as well concede the 1974 Alarums and Farfetched Excursions award right now to Chuck Noll. Still coughing back his despair over Pittsburgh's 1972 playoff loss to Miami—the Steeler coach blamed it on a flu epidemic begun by "out-of-town writers"—Noll nodded toward the group clustered around Quarterback Joe Gilliam after the team's 30-0 win over Baltimore. "See," he said, "that's what I was talking about. All those reporters from all over the country. They bring in new germs. They get close to our players, and the players get sick."
THEY SAID IT
•Homer Smith, football coach at West Point: "You have to be respectful when arguing with an official. I usually say, 'Sir, are we watching the same game?' "
•Phil Maloney, general manager/coach of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks: "I try for good players and I try for good character. If necessary, though, I settle for the player."
•Tom Harp, Indiana State University coach, after the plane carrying his team to Terre Haute was forced to make an emergency landing: "Even football players know they're in trouble when the propellers don't go around."
•Ted St. Martin, Yakima, Wash, basketball player, after setting a world record with 927 straight free throws: "I should have had 1,000. I relaxed after 900."
•John McHale, Montreal president, asked if Frank Robinson's $160,000 contract to manage the Cleveland Indians had set a new standard for managers' salaries: "Yes, for managers who hit home runs."
•Harry Parker, New York Met, on pitching with Lou Brock on base: "It's like trying to keep water from going over the dam. You know what's coming, but you're powerless."