BATTLE OF THE SEXES
When Renee Richards, the transsexual tennis player who has been fighting for acceptance in competitive women's tennis since she "came out" last August, took and apparently passed the standard Barr Body chromosome test (the one used in the Olympics) in Little Rock, Ark. last week, several intriguing questions arose. Why did Richards suddenly take the test after having refused to do so for seven months? More important, will the ruling bodies of tennis accept the results, or will they find another way to keep the 42-year-old Richards out of events like Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the French and Italian championships?
Richards, an M.D. who is, naturally, well-versed in genetics, has said all along that the chromosome test alone was not the way to determine a person's sex. "It was invoked specifically because of me," she says, "and that is discriminatory. By refusing to take the test I think I educated a lot of people about transsexuals, but, unfortunately, that didn't get me any further into competition. So I took the test. Now my crusading is over. It is time to start thinking about Renee Richards, tennis player."
Maybe that's so. Tennis officials indicate that if she is indeed a female, she will be allowed to play. But there are likely to be more hassles. One problem is that as a man, Richard Raskind, she fathered a son. According to a spokesman for the Institute for Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital, that means it would be impossible now for her to have female chromosomes, because no one in medical history has been known to have had a change in structure of the chromosomes he or she was born with. Richards, citing something called the Klinefelter Syndrome, disagrees with the implications of this argument, but says that her family life "is nobody's damn business."
Tennis may ask her to take the Barr Body test again, or a more complicated and even more accurate test called a karyotype. Richards, who threatened earlier to sue, says, "I took the test under stringent conditions. I had three witnesses, as well as doctors and a pathology lab of impeccable repute. They'd better not ask me to take it again, or they'll really be asking for it."
Some people feel that with his name. Gene Tenace took up the wrong game. The same can be said for the Ottawa Athletic Club's Australian tennis pro. His name is Gary Hockey.
Irving Wallace and his son David discovered sport, among other things, when they published their non-book, The People's Almanac, a couple of years ago. Now they are back, along with Irving's daughter Amy, with another paste-together production called The Book of Lists, which William Morrow & Co. will publish in May.
The Book of Lists is worse than potato chips: you know you don't want any more, but you can't stop. You keep arguing with it. The chapter on sports, for example, is filled with infuriating tables of bests, worsts, greatests, most dramatic moments, etc. Herbert Warren Wind, who not only writes about golf but may have invented it, gives his list of the 12 greatest golfers of all time. You know where he puts Jack Nicklaus? Eleventh. And then Amy Alcott—why Amy Alcott?—picks the 11 greatest women golfers of all time and puts Babe Zaharias 11th. Jack, meet Babe.
Sam Snead offers his list of the nine greatest golfers, which is actually a list of 10 except that Sam, who modestly leaves his name out of it, also modestly leaves the first spot blank. After that he has Nicklaus second. Jack and Babe, meet Sam.
Secretariat is 10th on Peter Chew's list of the 10 greatest racehorses. Muhammad Ali is ninth on The Ring magazine's list of the 10 greatest heavyweight champions. Alice Marble puts Helen Wills Moody 10th on her list of the 10 greatest women tennis players—two rankings behind Alice Marble.
All right, that's enough potato chips for now. O.K., one more: Napoleon Bonaparte, who played solitaire incessantly while in exile, is second on a list of 15 fanatical cardplayers. Who is first? You can look it up.
The energy shortage, which doesn't seem likely to go away, may have deleterious effects on some sports, notably swimming. For example, in California the Public Utility Commission has suggested that people, schools and institutions be encouraged to use less natural gas for such "luxuries" as the heating of swimming pools (except those designed for therapeutic purposes). The recommendation has not been enforced, but the threat has upset swimming coaches.
"If the temperature in our pool has to go below 76°," says Coach Hank Vellekamp of the University of California at Irvine, "it will mean the end of our program." Even 76° is not warm enough for competitive swimmers trying to reach or maintain world-class standards. UCLA Coach Bob Haines says, "At 76° or 77°, swimmers in training get chilled after staying two or two and a half hours in the water."
If keeping swimming pools warm enough becomes a problem in Southern California, what in the world will they do in places like Indiana?
TALK ABOUT DOUBLE-TEAMING
The finest performance by an NBA player in this or any other season was that turned in by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers a month or so ago, just after a group of Hanafi Muslims, the sect to which Abdul-Jabbar belongs, had held more than 100 people hostage in Washington, D.C. Because of the possibility of reprisals against the basketball player, the FBI moved in to protect him, which led to this report in the Newark Star-Ledger the day after the Lakers beat the New York Nets 84-81: "Kareem, being guarded by an estimated 100 FBI agents, sank a pair of free throws with 41 seconds to play to put Los Angeles ahead for good."
BULLY FOR BULL
There's been enough written about venal ballplayers grabbing every penny they can get their hands on. Let's talk about Greg Luzinski, the Philadelphia Phillies' massive leftfielder. Luzinski signed one of those lucrative contracts this winter (a five-year, $1.5 million deal) but he has taken the novel step of plowing some of that loot back into the game. He arranged to buy 126 loge box seats in Section 575 of Veterans Stadium—Section 575 is in left field, Luzinski's position—for 36 playing dates this season. Because the seats go for $4.50 each, Luzinski's bill for the tickets was $20,412. He then announced that the seats would be given away to kids, through various youth groups, in the Philadelphia area.
The Phils' publicity department rallied round, naturally. They named the section "The Bull Ring" (Luzinski's nickname is The Bull) and said it would be enclosed by some sort of fence. The fence would not be just decoration, for the youngsters have to be kept under reasonable control. Groups applying for tickets have to promise that a minimum of 10 adult chaperons will accompany the kids.
Because the Phils were taking such an active part in the Bull Ring operation, there was criticism that the whole thing was a publicity stunt engineered by the ball club. "A lot of reporters didn't take it the right way," says Luzinski, who had been reluctant to talk about his project. "They feel, I'm sure, that the Phillies are donating the section to me. But they're not. The thing cost me $20,000. I did it because the people in Philly have been good to me, and I wanted to do something for them."
Along with the seats, Luzinski has promised to give an autographed picture to each youngster sitting in Section 575 and says he will donate $100 to the favorite charity of any Phillie player who hits a homer into the section.
"I wanted to give some kids a chance to see how much fun it is to go to a ball game," he says.
ONE PERSON GANG
In women's volleyball a new era seems to be beginning, a one-woman era. Eileen Condit, 19, a second-year nursing student at Edgecliff College in Cincinnati, showed up to play in the intramural volleyball league and found that because she was the only nursing student who had turned out, she was the nursing school team. Because the league is rather informal—faculty administration also has a one-person team—no one minded, and Eileen plunged into competition. She beat faculty administration easily, went on to defeat three-, four-, five-and six-person teams from education, religious studies, art, history, psychology, chemistry and biology and has only the sociology department (which may go up to the nine-player limit for this one) to beat to win the league championship.
Although she played on a championship volleyball team in high school, has three sisters majoring in phys ed or planning to, and is known for her embarrassingly hard serve, Condit is modest about her success. "I'm not that good," she says. "It's just that the people at Edgecliff are even worse."
YOU HAD TO BE THERE
The item in the paper said the New York Apples of World Team Tennis had signed on comedy writer Robert Orben to help with publicity. How does a comedy writer help a tennis team with publicity? He writes one-liners, and the Apples send them off to sportswriters, columnists and broadcasters. Samples: "The New York Sets, World Team Tennis champions in 1976, are now officially known as the New York Apples. I'll bite that." Or: "It's a good thing Ilie Nastase isn't one of their players. They might have to be called the New York Crab Apples." Or: "I'm not surprised the World Team Tennis champions of 1976 have been officially renamed the New York Apples. They are top-seeded."
Want some more? No? O.K.
PERILS OF THE DEEP
Pollution is terrible, but fishermen have long known that a little carefully applied pollution can stimulate the growth and concentration of underwater life—for example, old automobiles sunk one on top of another create admirable artificial reefs that soon tend to abound in fish. Now the state of Washington has developed the technique to a fine art. In parts of South Puget Sound sunken barges, draped with old tires tied together to form tetrahedrons, are festooned with discarded nylon stockings and panty hose. The toes of the hose are stuffed with chunks of buoyant Styrofoam that keep the legs perpendicular. Parks and Recreation Department officials say that within seven days squid eggs were found clinging to the nylons, and large numbers of young fish were sporting about the heels and toes. Crabs and starfish were elbowing their way in and, all in all, areas that had been barren were rapidly becoming one big happy ecosystem.
The only worry is what might happen to the psyche of an uninformed scuba diver who suddenly finds himself enmeshed in this surrealist masterpiece. And what will he tell his wife when he accidentally brings home one of those stockings?
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Veeck, Chicago White Sox owner, asked whether free agents lean toward playing in Chicago and other big cities: "Not really, they lean toward cash."
•Bill Bradley, New York Knick star, on why he never made TV commercials: "First, I was suspicious of an advertising industry that manufactures needs, then sells products to foster those needs. Second, some offers were coming to me as a 'white hope,' and that offended me. Third, basketball was an important part of my life. I wanted to keep it pure. Hair sprays and deodorants and popcorn poppers were not basketball."
•Jack Nicklaus, talking about his eventual retirement from tournament golf: "I can say now that I'll know when I want to get out, but when I reach that time, I may not know."