NEW COURSE NEEDED
Louisiana high school athletic officials are having trouble explaining away an ugly incident involving two black golfers at St. Frederick Catholic High, an integrated school of 300 students in Monroe. The trouble occurred when St. Frederick showed up to compete in a 12-team tournament in Bastrop, La., only to be told that because the event was being held on a segregated private course, the two black team members, Detrand Lloyd and Lesley Williams, wouldn't be allowed to play. Armed Mathews, St. Frederick's athletic director, says he offered to withdraw his team but that Lloyd and Williams volunteered not to participate rather than deprive their white teammates of the chance to do so. Incredibly, Mathews, tournament officials and everybody else involved acquiesced. The event was held without Lloyd and Williams, who went sightseeing because they weren't even allowed to stay and watch the event.
If the banning of the two black youngsters was disquieting, so is the reaction to it. Asked if he still felt his decision to let the team play without Lloyd and Williams had been right. Mathews said, "The kids felt like it was, so in that regard, I do, too." Sister Clarice Faltus, the principal of St. Frederick, said, "It's not that big of an issue, and there's no reason to keep badgering us about it." Frank Spruiell, commissioner of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, deplored what he called a "very unfortunate situation and an embarrassing one," but he also said, "Unfortunately, every school and every area doesn't have a municipal course. Some schools wouldn't have a team if they didn't use the private clubs. This is true even in tennis, and sometimes swimming. So we don't knock the local clubs that cooperate with the high schools."
Spruiell is no doubt right in suggesting that some schools in Louisiana, like a good many elsewhere, might have to abandon golf if they didn't play on private courses. But one has to question whether it is worth maintaining a golf program if matches have to be held on segregated courses—even if there are no blacks playing on participating teams at the moment. The use of such courses not only reinforces segregation generally but may also discourage some black youngsters from taking up the game. Besides, alternatives to segregated courses often exist, as Spruiell himself seemed to concede when, referring to schools hosting golf tournaments in his state, he urged that henceforth, "If any school they're inviting does have blacks, they're going to have to pick a place they can play." It apparently didn't occur to Mr. Spruiell that they might be better off simply picking courses where blacks can play period.
ISIAH & MOSES
By winning the NCAA basketball championship after losing nine regular-season games (against 21 wins), Isiah Thomas and his Indiana University teammates set a new standard for such things; the previous record for most losses by an NCAA champ was seven (against 20 wins) by Marquette in 1976-77. But when it comes to peaking in postseason play, nobody compares with the 1937-38 Chicago Black Hawks, who won the Stanley Cup despite a regular-season record of 14-25-9. Other teams that scaled the heights after relatively mediocre seasons include the NFL champion New York Giants in 1934 (regular-season record: 8-5, .615) and the 1974 world champion Oakland A's (90-72, .556). In the NBA, the Washington Bullets took the league title in 1977-78. despite going only 44-38 during the regular season, a "record" that the Moses Malone-led Houston Rockets, who were 40-42 during the regular season (as were another playoff team, the Kansas City Kings), are stalking after upsetting the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers last week in their opening-round playoff series (page 12). If the Rockets win the NBA title, it will mean that basketball teams led by players named Isiah and Moses will have wound up forging unprecedented turnarounds in the same season.
Anyone who still assumes that George Brett's seventh-inning, two-run homer was responsible for Kansas City's 3-2 victory over the Yankees in the decisive third game of last season's American League playoffs had better think again. According to Jose Martinez, the Royals' first-base coach, K.C. won because he had had the foresight to enlist the help of his godfather. Alberto Lozano, a Cuban-born practitioner of voodoo who lives in Miami.
Martinez reveals that he called Lozano to ask what could be done to ensure that the Royals would win the pennant. Although Lozano is a Yankee fan, he felt obliged to help his godson, and so he told him. "Stick the Yankee lineup in the freezer," an action that he said would "freeze their bats." Before Game 3, Martinez dutifully obtained a copy of the New York lineup, went into a back room in Yankee Stadium and placed the card in a freezer. This is why, Martinez suggests, the Yankees scored only two runs.
Lozano says that he and his followers have used their mystical powers to cure disease and save lives, adding, "We don't harm anybody. We don't do wrong to nobody." The Yankees might dispute that, especially when Lozano goes on to say that he has already arranged the outcome of this season. He and his disciples have been meeting every Monday to practice secret rites, and he says. "I'm telling you nine months in advance. The Royals will be the American League champions, and they're going to beat whoever is in the World Series representing the National League. That's it. K.C. is going all the way to the top."
The frequent contention by the NHL's top brass that there's a proper place in hockey for fighting has always been a dubious one. Now John Ferguson, the general manager of the Winnipeg Jets and himself a noted tough guy during his playing days, has unwittingly pointed up the ludicrousness of the league's acceptance of brawling by ranking NHL players on the basis of their pugilistic abilities. Though done in all apparent seriousness, Ferguson's rankings, which ran in the Jets' program, read like the heaviest kind of satire. His top 10:
1) Jimmy Mann, Winnipeg Jets. "He's been to the well more than anyone and is willing to fight them all, big or small.... He has terrifically fast hands and a strong knockout punch."
2) Dave Semenko, Edmonton Oilers. "Has very fast hands and good boxing savvy...believes in landing the first big punch...A good inside fighter."
3) Clark Gillies, New York Islanders. "Has the strength to hurt you badly...his one weakness is that he could be a little meaner."
4) Terry O'Reilly, Boston Bruins. "Good balance, and doesn't get knocked down easily."
5) Behn Wilson, Philadelphia Flyers. "Adept at slugging it out...willing to take on the top contenders."
6) Barry Beck, New York Rangers. ."Good with both hands."
7) Nick Fotiu, New York Rangers. "Dependable club fighter."
8) Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia Flyers. "Bobs and weaves well and is good on the inside."
9) Larry Playfair, Buffalo Sabres. "A clutch-and-grab artist. He's tall and tough but his roundhouse style leaves him open for counterpunches."
10) Dave (Tiger) Williams, Vancouver Canucks. "Likes to move around, go in, back off and start circling again. Works out on the punching bag during the season. Hard to hit, hard to put down."
All that remains now is for The Ring magazine to rank the top 10 boxers on the basis of how well they skate.
WIN, PLACE & JOLLY GOOD SHOW
It was more than a novelty last week when an American crowd watched a live telecast of a classic sports event from England on which they could legally wager. It was also uncanny. The audience consisted of 1,233 early birds who found their way at 9:20 a.m. Saturday to Tele-track in New Haven, Conn., a 2,300-seat betting emporium that ordinarily presents live closed-circuit telecasts of racing from New York State's thoroughbred and harness tracks. Now, however, the patrons were on hand for what was ballyhooed as the first transatlantic parimutuel production: live coverage from Aintree of the 137th running of the Grand National, that wild and grueling steeplechase over 30 of the most daunting jumps in the world. After the usual spectacular falls, which helped reduce the field of 39 to 12 finishers, the race was won by Aldaniti, which the Connecticut crowd had sent off as the 6-1 favorite in its separate betting pool. Did American bettors know something Britons didn't? Spartan Missile, which the Aintree cognoscenti had made their favorite at 8-1, finished second, four lengths back.
By surrendering to an ultimatum from FIFA, the Zurich-based ruling body in world soccer, just hours before its season opener two weeks ago, the North American Soccer League acknowledged a painful fact: owing to the realities of international soccer politics and to its own penchant for using players from all corners of the globe, the NASL doesn't enjoy the same autonomy as the NFL, NBA, NHL and major league baseball.
FIFA had threatened to excommunicate the NASL unless it conformed to accepted international rules limiting each team to two substitutions per game and specifying that the offside line be at mid-field. The NASL had long allowed three substitutions per game (the better to utilize American players and cope with the heat of summer) and had placed offside lines 35 yards from each goal (to open the game to more scoring). The sudden demand for orthodoxy amounted to a power play by FIFA, whose senior vice-president, Harry Cavan of Northern Ireland, had pointedly told SI's Clive Gammon, "This is a very minor thing except for the principle of accepting the authority of the world organization."
The dispute also represented a show of force by the United States Soccer Federation, through which the NASL was obliged by protocol to work in dealing with FIFA. A relic of the days when soccer in this country was mainly the province of obscure ethnic leagues, the USSF seized the confrontation between the NASL and FIFA as a chance to make its presence felt. Thus, when FIFA at one critical point indicated that it might consider postponing its ultimatum until the end of the year, the USSF was notably cool to the idea. There was no postponement, and the NASL reluctantly consented to start its season with the prescribed rule changes in force. So far anyway, the new rules appear to have had little appreciable effect on the NASL's style of play, bearing out the fact that the changes themselves were less important than FIFA's desire to show who was boss in world soccer.
THE MATING GAME
After a prolonged and worrisome period of celibacy (SCORECARD, March 30), the flamingos at Hialeah Park have finally gotten their connubial act together. Heavy showers in south Florida apparently triggered an amorous response in the long-legged residents of Hialeah's infield. After the showers subsided, the birds did some nest-building and strutted their stuff, prancing about and ruffling their feathers. And after they danced, well, some of them mated. If eggs result, they will be the first laid by any of Hialeah's flamingos since 1972. It ordinarily takes five days for eggs to be laid after mating, another month or so for them to hatch. Flamingos are highly imitative, and it is hoped that more members of the flock of 400 will follow the example of last week's mating couples.
THEY SAID IT
•Stan Williams, New York Yankee coach, on veteran Outfielder Oscar Gamble: "Oscar is so old that when he broke into the majors he was still a Negro."
•Dan Quisenberry, discussing the control problems of another Kansas City Royal pitcher, Renie Martin: "Some people throw to spots, some people throw to zones. Renie throws to continents."
•Jim Palmer, Baltimore Oriole pitcher, after Manager Earl Weaver was ejected from an exhibition game and replaced by Coach Cal Ripken: "Ripken will finish more games this year than Goose Gossage."