The naming of William D. Ruckelshaus as head of the embattled Environmental Protection Agency seems a step in the right direction, but it won't mean much unless the Reagan Adminstration alters its attitude. During the news conference at which the Ruckelshaus appointment was announced. President Reagan referred four or five times to his own position on the environment when he was governor of California, something he often does when his Administration is under attack. "I'm proud of my environmental record as governor of California," the President said.
But he isn't governor anymore, nor has he been for nearly a decade. In accepting the nomination Ruckelshaus said, "My concern is the future, not the past," and the President nodded approval. Is it unfair to suggest that he put California in the past and ask himself what he has done for the environment lately? Or to urge that it's time to take a course of action that could make him proud of his environmental record as President?
COMPARISONS ARE OUDIOUS
In the fledgling USFL, which is fighting to gain recognition, Boston Breakers Nose Tackle Oudious (pronounced odious) Lee has already made a name for himself. His father took care of that 26 years ago.
"Awful name, isn't it?" says Lee, a former Nebraska star who had trials with three NFL teams. "My father's given name was Audis, but when he went in the Air Force in the '50s, some guy typed it up wrong and it became Oudious. Trouble is, he liked the name so he kept it. Then he gave it to me. Terrible name. The worst is trying to make long-distance collect calls. The operators never believe there really is an Oudious Lee."
That's not a new problem.
"I wasn't crazy about phoning girls when I was 12 or 13," Lee says. "The parents would want to know who was calling their little girls. I'd say 'Oudious Lee' and spend the next 15 minutes trying to convince them I wasn't putting them on."
Substitute teachers were the worst. "They always butchered my name," Lee says. Except one. "Only thing was, she thought I was a girl. When she looked around the room for a Miss Lee, she saw me—all 6'2", 220 of me, the biggest kid in the school."
Maybe a nickname would help? "I'm called O.D. Not real professional."
Well, what's your middle name? "Don't have one. If I did, I'd use it."
There must be some benefits to being named Oudious Lee. Like having the most vowels in the USFL?
"In all my life I can think of only one benefit. My mother wanted to name me Henry."
OPENING THE DOOR
A cloud no bigger than a man's hand was on the horizon in New Delhi, India, where the International Olympic Committee has been meeting. At the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles the U.S. will have the privilege of staging demonstrations of non-Olympic sports. One such sport will be tennis, which hasn't been part of the Olympic festivities since 1924, although in 1988, when the Games will be held in Seoul, South Korea, it will again become a full-fledged part of the competition.
Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain, president of the IOC, agreed in New Delhi to allow professional tennis players under the age of 21 to appear with amateurs in the tennis matches at Los Angeles. Although no medals will be awarded, and the players will not be members of their Olympic teams, just allowing pros to appear at all is a remarkable concession from the simon-pure IOC. While it's unlikely that the same leniency will prevail at Seoul in 1988, the IOC's gesture seems at least a step toward an open Olympics in which all athletes, amateur and professional, will take part.
Fifteen renowned Boston Marathoners, among them Bill Rodgers, Johnny Kelley and Patti Catalano (who was on crutches because of a recent foot operation), braved chilly Massachusetts weather the other day to put their footprints in the fresh cement of a celebrity sidewalk outside Boston's Eliot Lounge, a favorite after-race spa of runners. Some wore running shoes when they made their imprints, but most took off their shoes and socks and pressed their naked soles into the wet cement. Catalano made her mark with the tips of her crutches. Shivering, everyone agreed that the occasion was best described by the name of the 1968 winner: Amby Burfoot.
GET OUT THE FEATHER DUSTER
A recent Reuters dispatch datelined Katmandu indicates that man has crossed yet another frontier in the despoliation of the environment. The story reported that government officials in Nepal are worried about growing mounds of refuse, including tents, oxygen bottles, canned food, pots, plates and aluminum ladders that climbing expeditions have been leaving behind on Mount Everest. A French climber, René Ghilini, said that a team with which he ascended to within 4,000 feet of the summit of the 29,028-foot mountain found and removed tin cans, food and paper that filled nine 20-liter plastic drums. Ghilini warned that unless something was done soon, the mountain's base camp would become "a big rubbish heap."
The Los Angeles Times brought the dreary situation into sharper focus by means of its placement of the Reuters story. The newspaper ran the piece immediately beneath an Associated Press photograph of a workman at Boston's Museum of Science perched atop a ladder and applying a feather duster to a huge globe representing the planet Earth.
PLATO WOULD HAVE APPROVED
Some people think that sports is a frivolous and unworthy preoccupation, but the Rev. James Schall, a professor of political science at Georgetown, strongly disagrees. Speaking at a recent journalism ethics conference at the University of Nevada-Reno, underwritten by the Gannett Foundation, Schall offered observations calculated to allay any guilt that, because of involvement in mere games, may be felt at times by:
Fans. Maintaining that watching sports is the closest most people ever get to doing anything resembling the true Greek meaning of contemplation, Schall said, "The attraction of the game to so many ordinary people in so many cultures over so long a period of time reveals something extraordinarily important about us."
Sportswriters. "It is a commonplace how many good political and social columnists and thinkers began their writing on the sports pages. They were learning about what fascinates men, what they think is important."
Participants. The people who engage in sports, Schall said, "either win or lose, play fair or cheat. Where there's a possibility of cheating...we're being tested about what we are, what we reveal about ourselves in our action."
In summation, Schall said that "in many, many ways, sports is the closest thing we encounter to the highest philosophical thing." Which is just what all those guys who spend the weekend propped in front of the tube with their beer and popcorn have been trying to tell their wives all along.
Whether or not the NBA Players Association goes ahead with its threat to strike, the league's current labor dispute has produced its share of aphorisms and one-liners. Noting that the league had ruled that owners making unauthorized comments regarding negotiations were subject to a $250,000 fine, Golden State Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli said, "That shows how important we are. The other sports imposed fines of only $100,000." Emphasizing the union's desire to maintain the status quo, Warriors player rep Purvis Short said, with eloquent succinctness, "What we want is what we got." Pacers Forward Marty Byrnes, who spent the 1981-82 season in minor league basketball, said, "I was on strike all last year, so I don't want to do it again." And 76er Center Moses Malone, asked if NBA players are worth the money they've been paid in recent years, replied, "Owner thinks it's cool, it's cool."
Last week women's basketball took a giant step backward—in time, that is—to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first formal game played by females. The current varsities at Smith and Wellesley donned 1890s-style uniforms and reenacted a game played in Northampton, Mass. on March 22, 1893, when the Smith freshman class defeated the Smith sophomore class 5-4 after 30 minutes of play. And you thought Dean Smith could stall.
About the only thing the original game had in common with the modern version was scoring baskets. The ball was a rugby ball. The uniforms incorporated billowy bloomers, tights and a long-sleeved pinafore top, an ensemble ill-suited to the fast break. That didn't matter, because players weren't allowed to roam freely, anyway. Each team had nine players—three forwards, three centers and three guards—and the court was divided into thirds, with the forwards confined to this section, the centers to that and the guards to the one over there. There was no dribbling, which made it a passing game—but no bounce passes, please. And heaven forbid that a player do anything as wild as hugging the ball to her body after catching it. Hands only, ladies. The ball was passed back and forth from section to section until a forward got an open shot at the basket.
Each field goal was worth one point, not two, and a team was also awarded a point when the opposing team committed three consecutive fouls. There were free throws, but if one player committed two consecutive fouls, she was escorted to the bench "to calm down" and stayed there until the other team scored.
Smith's physical education instructor at the time was Senda Berenson, a sister of Bernard Berenson, the renowned art historian. She had read about the new game of basketball a month after James Naismith had devised it for his students at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in nearby Springfield, Mass. and had traveled the 15 miles from Northampton to see it firsthand. According to Larry Fink, athletic director at Smith, "Senda found the game to be suitable for strong young ladies and introduced an adaptation of it to the phys ed classes at Smith in the fall of 1892."
When the first organized game between the freshmen and the sophomores took place the following spring, there was considerable fanfare, although no males were allowed to watch. Berenson forbade men to enter the gym because of the players' immodest garb. It was just as well. The game got off to an unfortunate start when Miss Mann of the sophomore class slipped during the tip-off, fell and dislocated her shoulder. Things slowed down a little after that.
OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES
Politics has been called the world's most bewildering sport, and 8-year-old Adrian Higgins of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts would probably agree. Having seen the movie Gandhi with his parents, the young athlete—he's a hockey center and soccer forward—was disturbed by scenes that showed the murderous conflict between Moslems and Hindus after India won its independence in 1947. He couldn't comprehend why such violence was able to run on. "I don't understand," he said. "Why didn't they get a referee?"
THERE THEY GO AQAIN
Pembroke (N.C.) State's baseball team continues to hear its own drummer. You may recall the story that last year during a game with North Carolina-Charlotte (SCORECARD, March 29, 1982), Pembroke Coach Harold Ellen took his team off the field with the score 8-8 after nine innings because, he explained, the school cafeteria was about to close, and if his players didn't get there in time, they wouldn't get any supper.
A couple of weeks ago Pembroke was playing Princeton at home as part of a doubleheader in which Princeton, on a tour of the South, took on St. Andrews Presbyterian in the first game and Pembroke in the second. Both games were scheduled to go seven innings. Princeton beat St. Andrews 6-3 in the opener and was winning the nightcap 4-0 in the sixth when Pembroke rallied to tie it up. An inning later, with the score still 4-4, the game was called on account of darkness, even though Pembroke's field has lights. It was explained that Coach Ellen's team was allowed to have the lights turned on only for night games, "important games," such as those with fellow members of the Carolinas Conference. Take that, Princeton.
Gary Spitler, Pembroke's sports information director, says ruefully, "The minute we called the game I knew people were going to say, 'There they go again.' "
A FOUL IDEA
The minor league Continental Basketball Association, which likes to try new ideas, said it would experiment this season with a sudden-death overtime: The first team to score three points in overtime would win (SCORECARD, May 31, 1982). The league felt this would not only benefit TV, which likes games that fit neatly into predetermined time slots, but also would generate added excitement as teams tried to decide whether to attempt two-point or three-point shots.
The sudden-death proposal would have been used during preseason exhibitions and the All-Star Game, but because none of those games went into overtime, the scheme has not yet been put to the test. However, one observer feels he knows how it would go—or how it should go. He is H. Kent McMath, an aptly named assistant professor of accountancy at the University of Illinois, who has performed an analysis of the tactical options that would be available under the CBA's sudden-death scheme.
McMath concludes that if coaches followed the laws of probability, the OTs would be cut-and-dried affairs. The team controlling the tap would always try a three-point shot, he says, because, taking into account all the good things that can thereby happen—hitting the shot to win the game, missing it but getting the offensive rebound, or missing it but getting the ball back after the other team fails to score three points—the controlling team would stand a 66.7% likelihood of winning vs. only 32% with a two-point try. For that reason the defensive team, according to McMath, should always try to thwart its opponent's strategy by fouling. Even if it were in the penalty situation, the fouling team ordinarily would be conceding only two free throws at most, not enough to decide the game.
McMath also argues that each team would have no choice but to foul purposely whenever the other team had possession. He concludes that sudden-death overtime would thus "degenerate into a series of willful fouls and boring processions to the foul line." Accordingly, he gently suggests that the CBA give "more thought" to its proposal.
Stroh's beer, sponsor of the Winter-nationals, a competition of the International Hot Rod Association at the Darlington, S.C. drag strip, must be feeling just a little flat. Of the eight cars that qualified for the final round, four represented other beer companies. Kenny Bernstein, driving for Budweiser, beat Paul McEwen, driving for Coors, in the opening race. In the second round Budweiser's Bernstein beat Dale Pulde, driving for Miller. And in the final, Bernstein, who leads the IHRA point standing, beat Raymond Beadle, driving for Schlitz.
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Forte, basketball official working an NCAA West Regional game, to reporters when a press table phone rang just as he was running past: "If that's my wife, tell her I'm not here."
•Lon Simmons, Oakland A's play-byplay broadcaster, after giving a USFL score during an A's spring-training game: "What are we doing playing baseball in the middle of the football season?"
•Stewart Granger, Villanova guard, recalling the rough basketball on Brooklyn playgrounds: "The rule was 'No autopsy, no foul.' "
•Doug Rader, Texas Rangers manager, on First Baseman Dave Hostetler, who was batting .438 in spring training: "We've got his swing right where we want it. If you don't see him for the next few weeks it's because we packed him in ice and won't thaw him out until opening day."
•Bob Watson, Atlanta Braves first baseman: "We're only one player away from being the best team in baseball—Steve Carlton."