LAST CALL FOR 31-YEAR-OLD FROSH
A new rule intended to curb the influx of foreign athletes into U.S. colleges goes into effect next week. The rule, enacted at the NCAA convention last January in New Orleans, specifies that starting on Aug. 1, athletes entering Division I schools will forfeit a year of eligibility for each year of their age beyond 20. The rule applies to everybody, Americans included, but the number of homegrown athletes who enter college after 20 is relatively small. The main targets are overage athletes from abroad who have been a major force at recent NCAA track and field championships.
The new eligibility rule is riddled with loopholes. To allow for careers disrupted by illness or for other reasons, no eligibility is lost for any year in which over-20 athletes were inactive. Also exempted are years in which athletes were in military service; this will benefit Kenyan trackmen, who usually have logged time in the army. Finally, the rule doesn't apply to athletes already enrolled in school, such as shotputter Hreinn Halldorsson of Iceland, a 31-year-old freshman this past year at Alabama.
But the rule change is certainly better than nothing. While it would be xenophobic to ban the recruitment of all foreign stars, whose presence in the college ranks benefits up-and-coming Americans by exposing them to tougher competition—and contributes at least something to international goodwill—the recruitment of overage foreigners is another matter. They tend to be seasoned performers who have an unfair advantage over younger Americans both on the track and in the scramble for scholarships. The new measure will have served its purpose if it eventually cuts into the number of 31-year-old freshmen imported to compete for U.S. schools.
While some of her classmates at Rolling Hills (Calif.) High School mow lawns, deliver newspapers and baby-sit to earn pocket money, Tracy Austin is going after somewhat bigger loot next week in the Wells Fargo Tennis Open in San Diego. If Tracy beats her first-round opponent, she'll win $1,100, and a second-round victory will be worth $1,000 more. With $998,677 to her credit going into the tournament, that would put her over the $1 million mark in career earnings, not bad for somebody who turned professional 21 months ago and is still four months shy of her 18th birthday. By contrast, Chris Evert was nearly 22 when, in 1976, she became the first woman pro to win $1 million.
SABAN & SABIN
Over the years, Lou Saban has been head football coach of Case Institute, Northwestern, Western Illinois, the Boston Patriots, the Buffalo Bills, Maryland, the Denver Broncos, the Buffalo Bills (again), the University of Miami and Army and has also held various administrative jobs, including the athletic directorship at the University of Cincinnati for all of 19 days in 1976. Saban was fired from a couple of those jobs but most of the time he quit, sometimes with years left on his contract. But when he abruptly resigned last week from West Point after completing just one year of a five-year contract, the 58-year-old Saban insisted that if he seemed like a bit of a rolling stone, it was only because his peregrinations have been so public. "A lot of people move to improve their positions," he told SI's Bob Sullivan. "How many times have you moved?"
Saban may have a point. As it happens, his entry in the latest edition of Who's Who in America takes up only 18 lines, while the one on Dr. Albert Sabin on the very next page requires 34 lines to relate that the famed polio researcher has worked at eight institutions and been a consultant at several more. Of course, Sabin lasted a bit longer than Saban at Cincinnati, where he settled down long enough to be a professor of pediatrics for 32 years.
You've heard of doubleheaders, double dribbles and double coverage, but how about Double Dutch? That's a style of rope jumping in which not one, but two ropes are used. Two turners swing the ropes in opposite directions, eggbeater style, so that they touch the ground alternately, while one or more other participants jump through the resulting blur of whirling strands. Double Dutch has been popular with generations of nimble-footed American schoolgirls, especially on the sidewalks of big cities.
Now, thanks to a New York City police detective named David Walker, Double Dutch has gone big-time. In 1973, assigned to community relations work in Harlem, Walker was looking for an activity for girls and remembered his sister's childhood absorption in Double Dutch. He enlisted the cooperation of schools and community centers and eventually received financial support from Mobil Oil Corp. The results have been startling. The American Double Dutch League now has 50,000 participants from the fifth through the 12th grades. In the recent seventh annual World Invitational Double Dutch Championship at Manhattan's Lincoln Center Fountain Plaza, there were 120 finalists, including entrants from Hartford and Washington, D.C., where organized Double Dutch has caught on in a big way, too.
Under championship Double Dutch rules, winners are determined in both singles (two turners and one jumper) and doubles (two turners and two jumpers) on the basis of several factors. One is speed, a top team being able to get in 300 or more jumps in the allotted two minutes. Competitors are also judged, as in gymnastics or diving, on compulsory routines and on freestyle tricks during which jumpers can twirl batons, do handstands or perform other unlikely tricks. As breathlessly choreographed and performed by such teams as Brooklyn's Rope Rippers, Hartford's Jumping Magic and Manhattan's Fantastic Four (the winners of this year's high school division in both singles and doubles), the intricate routines leave onlookers literally gasping.
Describing Double Dutch competition as "kind of a free expression on the streets," Walker attributes its acceptance as an organized sport among inner-city youngsters to the fact that it uses little space or equipment (though he also says, "It's a shocking reality that a lot of the kids can't afford sneakers") and to the fact that "the mothers can relate to it, because they played it themselves." While Double Dutch remains an activity mostly for girls, an exception is 11-year-old Peter Holloman, who made it to the finals as a member of Brooklyn's Jumping Joints and says firmly, "I think it's all right for boys to jump Double Dutch, too."
The biggest bargain in baseball is offered at Montreal's 59,984-seat Olympic Stadium, where 6,600 general-admission tickets go on sale for every Expo game for $1. That's $1 in Canadian currency, the equivalent of 87¬¨¬®¬¨¢ U.S., cheapest ticket in the majors. The seats are situated in the lower deck, beyond each of the foul poles, but fans occupying them will enjoy an unobstructed view of Nolan Ryan if, as expected, baseball's highest-paid player takes the mound when the Astros come to town this weekend. Thus, they'll be seeing a million-dollar-a-year performer for 87¬¨¬®¬¨¢, and where in these inflationary times can you top that?
In 1954 a Chicago team reached the finals of the Illinois state high school basketball championships for the first time. The DuSable High Panthers were an all-black team with a black coach, then a rarity in an integrated U.S. school system. In Illinois, schoolboy basketball had long been dominated by teams, consisting almost entirely of whites, from the southern part of the state. Segregation in basketball had only recently begun to break down; four years earlier a former DuSable star, Nat (Sweetwater) Clifton, had become one of the first two black players (Chuck Cooper was the other) in the NBA.
DuSable's pioneering team met trouble at every turn. During the trip to the state tournament in Champaign, the players were refused service at a restaurant and had to eat hamburgers on their bus. In Champaign they were similarly rebuffed when they tried to enter a local pool hall. While attending the tournament, the man who had coached DuSable the year before was critically injured in an auto accident. The Panthers were meanwhile routing their first three tournament opponents, raising their record to 31-0, but their playground style prompted one downstate coach to sniff, "DuSable ain't nothin' but a five-ring circus." In the finals against perennial power Mount Vernon, DuSable led 70-69 with barely two minutes left, but its players were called for a costly series of fouls and traveling violations; all told, three starters fouled out. DuSable lost 76-70. On the sad trip back to Chicago, the team bus collided with a car.
Some DuSable players bitterly blamed their loss in Champaign on the officiating. To make amends for whatever wrongs may have been done them, the Illinois High School Coaches Association inducted the '54 Panthers into its Hall of Fame in 1974, citing them for having pioneered the fastbreak and full-court press and tearing down racial barriers.
But the '54 Panthers have continued to be snakebitten. One of the team's 10 members, Gene Howard, was shot to death while being robbed of $50 in the early '70s, and another, McKinley Cowsen, died of cancer. Then there was Shellie McMillon, the leading scorer in the 1954 tournament. McMillon starred at Bradley and played four years in the NBA but suffered emotional and marital problems and wound up doing odd jobs and living on disability benefits. In a recent book on the '54 team, The DuSable Panthers, Ira Berkow recounts the time McMillon (who was given a fictitious name in the book) went to the home of a former DuSable teammate and presented him with two record albums. The friend gave McMillon $20 in return. As the friend explained, "I paid double their worth because I knew [he] needed the money but was too proud to ask." Last week it was reported that the 44-year-old McMillon had been found dead in bed by his mother, apparently the victim of a heart attack. The coach of the 1954 team, Jim Brown, told of having bumped into McMillon on a Chicago street two weeks earlier: "He kept talking about how the refs robbed us in Champaign, and I told him, 'You've got to forget the past, Shellie.' But he couldn't. He was haunted by that tournament to the end."
WHERE THE STORK RACES CRANES
Hilton Head, that comfortable little island paradise off the South Carolina coast, staged a welcome-home party the other day for two of its most prominent and peripatetic citizens, Evonne Goolagong and Stan Smith. To celebrate their surprising successes at Wimbledon—Goolagong's second singles title there came nine years after her first, while Smith reached the Wimbledon doubles final with partner Bob Lutz eight years after he won the men's singles—3,000 of the island's residents gathered at the beach, where bands played and telegrams were read, including a couple from Messrs. Carter and Reagan.
Goolagong and Smith were chauffeured to the party by novelist John Jakes and were presented with sketches of their children—Kelly Cawley, 3, and Ramsey Smith, almost 2—by illustrator Joe Bowler; Jakes and Bowler are also Hilton Head residents. Proceeds from refreshments went toward construction of an obstetrics unit for the local hospital, a project of interest to Evonne and Margie Smith, because both had to leave Hilton Head to give birth to their children. Mrs. Cawley is hopeful the next time she's ready, the hospital will be, too. Mrs. Smith isn't so confident. Ground has not yet been broken for the building, and she's already four months pregnant.
THEY SAID IT
•Abe Lemons, University of Texas basketball coach, explaining how he missed winning an automobile during a golf tournament by just two strokes: "It was a hole-in-one contest and I had a three."
•Ted Giannoulas, the man who portrays The Chicken, asked if his costume was uncomfortable during the nationwide heat wave: "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of The Chicken."
•George Archer, professional golfer, reflecting on what his sport means to him: "If it wasn't for golf, I'd probably be a caddie today."