L OF A GAME
In writing last week about the Pittsburgh-Dallas contretemps in Miami, the Boston Globe's Ray Fitzgerald asked, "In 2016, will football's biggest game be known as Super Bowl L?"
Knifing through the usual reports of Olympic delays and complaints and recriminations came a blunt statement from Canada last week: the Olympic Installations Board will meet next week to decide whether or not the Games will take place this summer in Montreal.
That depressing announcement received comparatively little attention, probably because everyone assumes the board's decision will be to go ahead, but it is nonetheless stunning. The unthinkable is suddenly possible. The Olympics may indeed be canceled. Even if the Games do get a green light, it is startling to learn that those entrusted to put the Olympics on could seriously contemplate abandoning them only six months before they are due to begin.
How can anyone suggest such a possibility? The answer, obviously, is money. Inflation. Cost overruns. Labor unrest. The Olympics are costing Montreal and Canada a fortune.
Growing increasingly top-heavy over the years, the whole Olympic idea has been turned upside down. What is supposed to be the most stimulating amateur athletic competition in the world has sagged into a morass of commercialism. COJO, the Olympic organizing committee, endorses products the way professional athletes do. TV contracts, extravagant designs for arenas, outsize expenditures on construction, tricky financial maneuvers to raise the enormous sums needed to pay for the tinselly trappings—all these take precedence over the athletes. The essential idea of the Games is lost behind an accountant's ledger, just as some people feel the competition itself is too often obscured by the ceremonies, the Olympic hymn, the pretentious lighting of the flame. The athletes have become little more than actors in a gaudy show, the primary purpose of which seems to be to entertain crowds and generate publicity and revenue for the host country.
This is backward. The athletes come first. Sport comes first. Competition comes first. What difference does it make if the tower on Montreal's elaborate stadium is not ready? What about a more important question: Is the track ready? Can races be run? Can high jumpers jump? Can javelin throwers throw? Is there a pool where swimmers can swim?
An Olympic athlete really needs only three things: a place to sleep, a place to eat and a place to compete. Since his basic expenses—travel, room and board—are paid for by his own country, why is it necessary to spend so much money on stage settings?
Montreal is a blessing in disguise. Critics have been saying for years that the Olympics should be simplified. Perhaps necessity will make this the time. Competition, yes. Show biz, no.
GOOD AND EARLY
This season college football's No. 1 team was not determined until the bowl games brought defeat to Ohio State and victory to Oklahoma. Now Western football enthusiasts are asserting that the next championship may well be settled as early as Sept. 11, when the two best teams (they say) of 1975 meet in Tempe, Ariz. Which teams? Why, Arizona State and UCLA, of course.
The National Football League's epic $10,000 essay contest on "The NFL's Role in American History" is over at last, and a 16-year-old girl named Anna Jane Leider has won the grand prize with a well-written analysis of the way pro football reflects American values. NFL officials said the number of entries was low and conceded there would have been more favorable publicity—or, at any rate, fewer guffaws—if the subject had been altered slightly to "The NFL's Role in American Sports History."
Well, whatever, it's done, and for our money Miss Leider's theory about reflected values was borne out by a typo in a Philadelphia Daily News story relating her victory that included a disparaging comment about the contest from Henry Steele Commager. The Daily News referred to the distinguished historian as Henry Steeler Commager.
YOU MAY THINK THIS IS THE END
Radio station KMBR in San Francisco also put on a contest this pro football season in which listeners were asked to guess how many times during the Oakland Raiders' regular-season schedule Broadcaster Bill King (SI, May 12) would exclaim "Holy Toledo!" A total of 14 KMBR listeners guessed the right number (27), among them Charles King, no relation to Bill, who won a tie-breaker drawing and first prize. First prize was four days and three nights in Toledo. Ohio, not Spain.
Toledo radio station WOHO, perhaps reacting indignantly, put on its own competition, an essay contest on the subject "What Toledo Means to Me." This failed to grab one listener, who responded by phoning, not locally to WOHO but long-distance to KMBR. He wanted to know what the winner would find to do in Toledo for four days. The caller himself had lived there all his life, he told KMBR, and he still didn't know what to do in Toledo.
About the only consolation WOHO has is that KMBR's second prize was not eight days in Toledo.
While the NCAA battled it out in St. Louis last week (page 52), the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women held its third Delegate Assembly in Scottsdale, Ariz. Last year the AIAW, which has 713 active member colleges and universities (compared to the NCAA's 704) fought off a takeover by the NCAA, Now it has turned its attention to a restructuring plan called Women's Athletics—A Search for Sanity. The plan includes such ideas as having a student on the AIAW executive and appeals boards, treating intercollegiate athletics as an educational activity subject to the same standards as other college-sponsored activities and giving universities more autonomy in controlling their own programs. These particular proposals were passed by the assembly. They are obviously an implied criticism of the way the NCAA does things. Says Donna Lo-piano. Director of Women's Athletics at the University of Texas, "The rules in the 280-page NCAA manual are unenforceable, and require policemen rather than educators to be a dominant part of its staff. An alternative is needed."
The assembly also passed a resolution calling on the NCAA and all other groups governing intercollegiate athletics to join the AIAW in limiting athletic scholarships to tuition and fees, eliminating free room and board and books. The proposal does not insist on "need" as a requirement for an athletic scholarship, but the AIAW believes it would stop schools from luring athletes with the promise of a "full ride," and thus save money. "It's a break with tradition," says one women's athletic director. "For once the AIAW is playing the role of the locomotive instead of the caboose."
Bill Bowers of Pennsville, N.J. was a dedicated bowler, if ever one lived. Despite a chronically bad heart, he regularly competed in 10 different bowling leagues, substituted on other teams whenever the chance arose and spent a good part of his remaining time bowling practice games.
Bowers died recently, and his wife, the kind of understanding spouse every bowler dreams of, fulfilled a wish her husband had often expressed. Tucked away under the funeral blanket when the casket was closed was Bowers' bowling ball.
Ed Jucker can boast that he is the only man ever to coach the No. 1 basketball team in the nation on three levels: professional, major-college (Division I) and small-college (Division II). Back in 1961 and 1962 Jucker guided the University of Cincinnati to back-to-back NCAA championships. During the 1967-68 season, when he was coaching the Cincinnati Royals, he had them up there in the NBA lead in the early part of the schedule. And last week his Rollins College Tars were voted No. 1 in the NCAA's first weekly ratings of Division II teams.
Oddly, a defeat rather than a victory helped lift the Tars into that exalted spot. A week ago Saturday night Rollins, 9-1 then, went against nationally ranked major-power North Carolina State. For 36 minutes the Tars, who used only six players, led State, and it was not until late in the game that the Wolfpack pulled ahead to win 79-75. That fine performance against a top Division I school impressed the voters.
Jucker, 55, seems to enjoy coaching more than ever. "The intensity for me is about the same here as it was at the University of Cincinnati and in the pros," he says, "but the difference is that here there is no pressure other than what I put on myself. When I came here, they certainly did not tell me that we would have to win the national championship." Then, smiling, he adds, "However, it is a fact that no coach has ever won titles in both NCAA divisions."
ONLY GAME IN TOWN
A retired Maryland state police captain with the impressive name of Menasha E. Katz may be the most loyal customer of that state's weekly lottery. When the legal numbers game opened for business in May 1973, he began spending about $20 a week buying 50¢ tickets, and he maintained that brisk pace to the end of the year despite expenditures of about $700 and winnings of exactly nothing. No, not exactly nothing. He did win $10 in a newspaper's Lucky Losers game, but spent most of that to pay the fine on a parking ticket he received when he was inside picking up his prize.
The 70-year-old optimist has since shortened sail a bit. He says he now averages between $5 and $15 a week on lottery tickets. And he has won a few times, if you can call it that. He estimates his total investment at about $2,400, his return at about $100.
Maryland's lottery slogan is "You gotta play to win." Captain Katz says, "All I know is, I can't win." But he gotta play.
COLLEGE OF MUSICAL KNOWLEDGE
A man named Pete Enich displayed rare courage recently when he wrote a story on college football fight songs for The Kansas City Kansan. Enich, who has absolute faith in his own musical taste, not only picked the top 10 collegiate songs in the U.S., he added a list of the 10 worst.
The best song, he says, is The Victors (Michigan), with I'm a Jayhawk (Kansas) second. Minnesota Rouser (Minnesota) is third, something called Mr. Touchdown USA (no school) fourth. After that, in order, come On Mizzou (Missouri), On Wisconsin (Wisconsin), Fight On (USC), There Is No Place Like Nebraska (Nebraska), Across the Field (Ohio State) and Washington and Lee Swing (W&L).
The worst pep song, says Enich, is Yea, Alabama! (Alabama), followed by The Eyes of Texas (Texas). After that it's Iowa Corn Song (Iowa), I've Been Working on the Railroad (Colorado), Wildcat Fight Song (Kansas State), Boola Boola (Yale), The Sturdy Golden Bear (California), The Cardinal Is Waving (Stanford), She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain (SMU) and The Olive and the Blue (Tulane).
Beyond the charge of creeping provincialism—among Enich's 20 songs, good and bad, are 10 from the Big Eight and Big Ten—some querulous criticism has arisen. An indignant Texan wants to know why Eyes of is the second-worst song and I've Been Working only fourth when they have the same tune. Colorado says it isn't its fight song, anyway. A Yale man, not disagreeing with Enich's low opinion of Boola Boola, asks if Pete has ever heard Bulldog, Bulldog, Bow Wow Wow, which was written by Cole Porter and has been called the best college song ever. And there is a Midwestern school named Notre something that has a tune people sometimes sing.
THEY SAID IT
•R.R.M. (Ruly) Carpenter III, president of the Philadelphia Phillies: "I'm going to write a book; How to Make a Small Fortune in Baseball. You start with a large fortune."
•Bowie Kuhn, baseball commissioner, at a press conference closing the baseball meetings in Arizona: "If you'll excuse us, we all have planes to catch to various courts around the country."
•Monte Clark, new coach of the San Francisco 49ers, discussing Kingsburg, Calif., where he played high school ball: "It's a very small town. It's so small, in fact, that the No. 1 industry there is taking bottles back to the store."
•Al Conover, former head football coach at Rice: "I'm going to be a hog farmer. After some of the things I've been through, I regard it as a step up."
•Stephen Graves, at 77 the top-ranked tennis player in the 75-and-over division, looking to his future challengers: "An awful lot of good younger guys are coming up. There's that Clarence Chaffee, who just turned 75."