Five years ago Loyola University of New Orleans decided to withdraw from all intercollegiate sports. Last September the Rev. James C. Carter, S.J., president of the university, asked a special Five-Year Athletic Review Committee to investigate what effect, good or bad, dropping sports has had on Loyola. Obviously, money saved by not spending it on sports is a "good" effect, but the committee, headed by a onetime Loyola basketball player, was looking for more profound influences.
When it submitted its findings in mid-January, the committee said that through separate subcommittees it had looked into six areas: student life, public relations, finances, development (including fund raising), admissions and intramurals. In addition, it had asked those who had served on a 1972 commission, whose findings had led to the decision to drop sports, for their reactions and opinions. A letter asking the same thing was sent to alumni, and a similar request, printed in the college newspaper, was addressed to the Loyola student body.
Only three of the eight people who served on the 1972 commission reacted to the request. From 17,000 letters sent to alumni, there were 14 replies. Of 4,600 students, one responded. The subcommittee reports indicated a general indifference to the question.
In sum, said the committee, dropping sports has had no effect on the university one way or the other.
IN SHARPER FOCUS
Jack Nelson, coach of the U.S. women swimmers at the Montreal Olympics, is still steaming at public reaction to his charges' performance at the Games, where they won only one gold medal to the East German women's 11.
"The American women broke nine U.S. records and three world records," says Nelson, "and everybody in the country acted like it was a disaster. It was a great accomplishment. What it boils down to is that since 1972, U.S. women swimmers have made fantastic strides—but not as fantastic as the East Germans.
"I was coach of the team that was second best in the world, and yet people came up to me when I got home and said, 'I'm really sorry, Coach.' I'm not sorry. I'm proud of what they did. I'm only disappointed in the reaction of the public."
World Team Tennis was a revolutionary enough idea when it was thrust upon the venerable game three years ago. Now a newer and stranger wrinkle is in the works. The group that owns the new Pennsylvania franchise (called, for the moment, the Keystones) has negotiated a deal with the Soviet Union that would turn the Keystones into an all-Soviet team. Professor Semyon Belits-Geiman, vice-president of the U.S.S.R. Lawn Tennis Federation, says that Moscow was willing, apparently as long as the price was right. The team will consist of the top six Soviet players and will compete in a regular 44-match WTT schedule.
The Soviets will not use the name Keystones and, in the interest of detente, will not call any one American city home, although Moscow, Idaho has already been suggested. John Korff, the American who will be general manager of the team, is now trying to come up with a name. Belits-Geiman, obviously unfamiliar with the limitations of American headline writers, suggests The Soviet Union World Team Tennis Team. We don't know. An instant name-that-team contest at last week's U.S. Pro Indoor Tournament in Philadelphia turned up the Russian Roulettes, the Molotov Cocktails and The Really Big Red Machine. But so far, the front-runner is the Nyets.
A plaintive letter from Barney Lahey of Findlay, Ohio says, "I continue watching those commercials where Marv Thornbury [sic] says if he does for Lite Beer what he did for baseball their sales might fall. But what did he do for baseball and when?"
Oh, dear. One forgets what a provincial town New York is. Most big advertising agencies are in New York and, not being able to see beyond the Hudson River (sometimes not even knowing exactly where the Hudson River is), the people who create the commercials tend to assume that folks all across the country are fascinated by the same things that fascinate New Yorkers—like the New York Mets. And especially the original Mets, the 1962 team that under the inspired public relations genius of Casey Stengel won the interest and affection of the most sophisticated city in the world (ask any adman) while losing more games than any other modern major league team.
Marv Throneberry (it may sound like Thornbury, the way Marv says it, and that's what Casey always called him, but it's Throneberry) played first base on that team. He played it imaginatively—he tied for most errors in the league with Dick Stuart (whose fielding was so inconclusive that he was called Dr. Strangeglove), even though he had fewer fielding chances than Stuart. Rather than deriding Throneberry, the Met crowd, a masochistic lot, grew to love him. They couldn't help it; he seemed so nice. One day some fans raised a banner that read "Marvelous Marv," and Throneberry was famous. It was as easy as that.
Marv wasn't much of a hitter, either, although he had power. He hit 16 homers in 1962, second best on the Mets. When he broke into the majors in 1958 with the Yankees, who were then in the middle of winning 14 pennants in 16 years, Throneberry was considered a potential star. But like his older brother Faye, a promising rookie with the Red Sox a few years earlier, he couldn't quite cut it. Marv was traded to Kansas City and then to Baltimore before landing with the Mets for his one season of dubious glory. He had only 14 at bats the next year and then slid down to oblivion, where Lite Beer found him.
The odd thing, the paradox, about the television commercial is that while Marv did not do much for baseball as an art, he sure helped it as a business. Met sales went up.
EASTERN SCHOOL FOR BOYS
Gladys Heldman, founder of World Tennis magazine and willing dispenser of advice on all tennis matters, deplores, as so many tennis people do, the on-court behavior of Ilie Nastase but thinks she has the answer for it.
"The Japanese," she says, "are the most wonderful sportsmen. No yelling, no complaining. If you defeat a Japanese, he says, 'You are too good.' If he beats you, he says, 'I was lucky. Next time you will win.' I'd like to sentence Nastase to two years in Tokyo."
Well, maybe Ilie won't have to go to Japan. The Men's International Professional Tennis Council has decided to let umpires crack down on misbehavior. The MIPTC, meeting in Paris recently, announced that the new system will be tested in several 1977 tournaments, including the U.S. Open at Forest Hills and the U.S. Clay Court Open in Indianapolis. If the experiment is a success, the system presumably will be extended to all Grand Prix events and, one hopes, to all tennis tournaments.
Here's the way it will work, God and Nastase willing. If a player takes more than a minute to change courts, he will be warned. If he does it again, he suffers automatic loss of the next point. If he does it a third time, he forfeits the game (and subsequent games, if the offense is repeated).
If a player prolongs an argument after a decision or unnecessarily delays play, he'll be warned. If he keeps it up after being warned, he'll be docked a game. If, after being hit with the game penalty, he fails to renew play within 60 seconds, he defaults the match.
Profane or obscene language or gestures, or throwing a racket, or knocking a ball out of the playing area, get similar treatment: first offense, point; second offense, game; third offense, match.
The new regulations give umpires needed authority—and also put quite a burden on them. Bob Briner of the Association of Tennis Professionals says, "There is no question the system could add stature to the role of the umpire, but it also creates a greater need for well-schooled, well-trained, emotionally stable umpires." Still, as David Gray, secretary-general of the International Lawn Tennis Federation, says, "This may be a failure, but at least it is an attempt to bring tournament rules up to date."
Sayonara, Nasty. Hello, Ilie.
NOT SUCH CRUMMY REASONING
Denny Crum, whose Louisville basketball team had a 15-2 record at the end of last week and was rated 11th in the country, was questioning the validity of such precise rankings a little earlier, when his team wasn't ranked as high.
"We've beaten four teams in overtime," Crum said then. "Give one point to each of those four teams, and we'd be 5-6 instead of the 9-2 we are now. If we're 5-6, we're not even ranked in the top 30 or 40. On the other hand, we lost to Syracuse by one point and Purdue by two. .So, we're only three points away from being 11-0, and if we're 11-0, we're probably ranked in the top five.
"So, how much difference is there among the top 40 teams in the country? Not very much, the way I figure it."
There is a lot of discussion going on about the role the Federal Government should take in the development of amateur sport in this country. One point of view is forcefully expressed by F. Warren Hellman, a New York investment banker and president of the U.S. Ski Educational Foundation, which is responsible for the financial well-being of the ski teams that represent the U.S. in international competition, including the Olympics.
"Quite frankly," says Hellman, "I start with the assumption that the Communists are right in saying that a nation's sports strength is a direct reflection of the viability of its political system. I want to see the U.S. do well in international sports to prove the strength of our system. But I think we should do well with a format that fits within the American system. If the free enterprise system works at all, it should work with sports, too. If private industry is supposedly the answer to problems in other sections of our society and economy, why should we have to turn to the government when it comes to amateur sports?"
Hellman's remarks are pertinent because of a remarkable deal he helped bring about. The International Paper Company, owner of a $1.5 million tract on the lower slopes of Vermont's Stratton Mountain, has given that land (which includes 1,023 acres of Stratton's well-used ski trails) to the U.S. ski team. The Stratton Corporation, which runs the ski resort, used to rent the land from International Paper. Now it will have a 99-year lease with the ski team, which is guaranteed a tax-free annual income. While this amounts to only $50,000 a year, less than [1/20]th of the $1.4 million the team needs to function, the idea of direct philanthropic support of a sport by a company, without advertising or promotional tie-ins, is what makes the arrangement so interesting.
"In the past," says Hellman, "it was hard for a corporation to separate its contributions to sport from the advertising value involved. This concept—viewing a specific sport as a charity and contributing to it as one might to the United Fund—is relatively new. Possibly it is the answer to financing sports—and possibly it will demonstrate that the U.S. doesn't have to follow the Communist system of government control to develop athletes to prove that our system is the best in the world."
THEY SAID IT
•Ken Brett, Chicago White Sox pitcher: "Things were so bad in Chicago last summer that by the fifth inning we were selling hot dogs to go."
•Johnny Bench, on baseball salaries in these days of free agents: "I used to be in the top five. Now I'm in the top 40. I feel like a record."
•Eddie Arcaro, on what happens to the competitive urge after an athlete moves into the big money: "Once a guy starts wearing silk pajamas, it's hard to get up early."