A Louisiana club bars a black high school golfer
Last Thursday, just before their match at Caldwell Parish Country Club in Columbia, La., was supposed to start, the eight members of the St. Frederick Catholic High golf team were hitting balls at the club's driving range. James Murphy, the athletic director at St. Frederick, was writing out scorecards when Bill McGee, manager of the club, approached him and told him that one of the St. Frederick players, Dondrè Green, would not be allowed to play because he is black. "It's a club rule," McGee said. "This is a private club, and it has the discretion to bar anybody it wants."
Before informing Murphy of the club's policy, McGee says, he checked with club president Iley Evans to see if a black student could play. According to McGee, "He said, 'Definitely not.' "
Murphy then called the whole team together and told the players that "blacks can't play at this club." The team decided immediately to forfeit the match. The two teams that St. Frederick was scheduled to face, Jena High and Caldwell Parish, decided to have a match anyway.
Dondrè, who has been playing golf since he was nine, says this was the first time he had faced any kind of discrimination. "I'm not going to let the club's stupidity ruin my future," says Dondrè. (His future may include playing college basketball. He scored 26.5 points per game as a senior point guard for St. Frederick this season and is being recruited by LSU and Arkansas State.)
This was not an issue of club membership; a private club can refuse to admit anyone that it chooses. The incident involving Dondrè was more like a club offering to host a PGA Tour event and then refusing to allow a black pro to tee off. Caldwell Parish was hosting a scholastic match—the students had been invited to compete there. According to assistant state attorney general Marvin Montgomery, "State law prohibits discrimination at a facility where the public is involved. It appears that if [the St. Frederick players were] invited, then it would be discrimination not to allow any member of the team to participate."
The Caldwell Parish school board did not know about the club's policy. School superintendent Jim Turner, who is a member of the club, said last Friday that he was going to ask club members to change the policy "or we [he and the school district's teams] will not play there anymore." On Friday night, the club's eight-member board voted to hold a special meeting to review its racial policy, but no date for that meeting has been set.
When a club turns away a player because he's black or, equally as disturbing, when two high schools capitulate to that policy, the temptation is to say that nothing has changed in the last 20 years. But that wouldn't be right. When Detran Lloyd, a black St. Frederick golfer, was told that he couldn't play at Morehouse Parish Country Club in Bastrop, La., 11 years ago, his teammates went ahead and played the match without him. Last week Dondrè's outraged teammates refused to play without him.
Coming into View
TVKO's telecast provided a glimpse of the future
The bout was billed as The Battle of the Ages, but the pay-per-view telecast of the George Foreman-Evander Holyfield fight last Friday night (page 22) was also a harbinger of things to come. The first production of TVKO, a pay-per-view boxing network that, along with SI, is owned by Time Warner, was seen on an estimated 1.8 million sets. That means that a record 10% of all cable homes with access to pay-per-view were tuned in at an average of $35 a pop. "Nobody can say he didn't get his money's worth," says Seth Abraham, TVKO's president. "It was a great fight. I feel like the producer of Les Misèrables after opening night."
Because the fight was so good, TVKO will be better able to attract pay-per-viewers to its monthly series of boxing nights, to begin on May 10. Even more significant, the numbers indicate that pay-per-view has taken on a legitimacy that will push it beyond wrestling and boxing into other sports.
TVKO was fortunate in another way. The quality of the fight more than made up for the quality of the telecast, which was something less than O.K. TV. Abraham, who also heads HBO Sports, wants to give TVKO a separate identity from HBO, so he went with announcers unfamiliar to many viewers: Len Berman, a veteran New York City sportscaster; Joe Goossen, a professional trainer; and Khambrel Marshall, a Chicago sports anchor. They talked too much, miscalled too many punches and overrated the historical significance of the fight. Fortunately, the lasting image from the telecast is of Foreman saying "Hip, hip, hooray" after the fight.
On a night when the 42-year-old preacher stepped out of the past, TV sports stepped into the future.
The Safest Season
No one died from a football-related injury last year
Last week the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research in Chapel Hill, N.C., which has been monitoring the frequency and severity of football injuries on sandlots and in schools, colleges and professional leagues since 1965, announced that for the first time in 60 years, no player died from a football-related injury last season. It may have been a fluke, but Frederick Mueller, professor of physical education at North Carolina and director of the center, doesn't think so. "There is better medical care at the schools," says Mueller, "and trainers and coaches are talking more about safety."
In addition, coaches have changed what they teach. Most players who died from injuries over the last six decades suffered head or neck injuries while attempting to make a tackle or block. That's why the highest rate of deaths occurred during the 1960s and early '70s, when coaches were instructing players to put their faces in the chests of ballcarriers when they made tackles. Today the preferred technique is for the defender to lead with his shoulder and wrap his arms around the ballcarrier's legs. Rules enacted in '76 against head-first contact have also reduced head and neck injuries.
Another reason football deaths are down is that helmets are safer. In 1978, for the first time, helmets had to meet certain safety standards. Moreover, lawsuits brought against helmet manufacturers have forced them to make their products even safer.
Coaches still must be vigilant about safety. Six players did die last fall: three from heart disease and one each from sickle-cell anemia, asthma and heat stroke. In addition, more than a dozen were paralyzed as a result of injuries sustained on the field. "For a 17-year-old, that's really tragic," says Mueller. "But if we work hard, those, too, can be eliminated."
On and off the court, Andy Winders is an inspiration
Before the high school basketball season recedes any further from memory, we should recognize the accomplishments of Andy Winders, a senior guard for Acton-Boxboro (Mass.) Regional High. He scored 19 points a game and led the Colonials into the Division II state semifinals, where they lost to Sharon High despite his 35 points. What makes Andy truly exceptional, though, is that he plays even though he has cystic fibrosis.
Not that Andy considers himself exceptional. He refers to the eight-inch scar down his midsection, a remnant of surgery performed the day he was born, as "a shark bite." He says other people notice his coughing spasms, some of which last as long as half a minute, more than he does. As for his abilities on the basketball court, Andy says simply, "I feel comfortable when the ball is in my hands."
Basketball's arduous pace has proved to be an antidote to the chronic bronchial congestion from which he suffers. The trademark symptom of cystic fibrosis is an accumulation of mucus in the lungs. When Andy plays basketball, much of the mucus is dislodged and coughed up, staving off a potentially lethal lung infection. "Basketball is very refreshing," he says.
Last month Andy played in front of 14,000 fans in the state semis in Boston Garden. He scored 25 second-half points, including Acton-Boxboro's final 18, to narrow a 12-point deficit to two. Alas, with three seconds remaining and the Colonials trailing by two, his pass to teammate Rick Wurster was intercepted, and Sharon won 77-74. At the buzzer, Andy lay down on the parquet floor, exhausted. Over and over again, he said, "I lost the game. I lost the game."
Six days later, Andy was summoned to the principal's office. Waiting for him were an elderly couple who had traveled 40 minutes from their home in Medford, Mass., to meet Andy. They had lost both a niece and a nephew to cystic fibrosis, and the man was carrying a brown paper shopping bag. "I've been waiting a long time for someone very special to give this to," he told Andy.
Inside the bag was a basketball inscribed with the names of the 1985-86 Boston Celtics. Like Andy, they were champions.
The Quill to Win
Baker City, Ore., can have one more porcupine race
After considering all the points of a prickly issue, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has decided to let Baker City hold a porcupine race at its annual Miner's Jubilee one last time. The race, which involves about 50 porcupines rounded up from nearby fields and forests by 4-H clubs, has had animal protectionists bristling for years. At a hearing last week, activists persuaded the commission that the porcupines were being chased, molested and "worried" for human amusement. Such behavior is considered wildlife harassment, which is illegal in Oregon. But in consideration of the money and effort already spent promoting the race, the commission is allowing one final derby, to be held at this year's jubilee in July.
The race takes place at the high school football stadium and draws about 3,000 spectators, which is better attendance than the football team enjoys. There are several heats of five or six porcupines each, followed by a showdown of the top six qualifiers. During the races, a porcupine "jockey" trails each quilled rodent, encouraging it by swatting the ground with a broom. Race rules—and common sense—prohibit touching the animal.
Despite their poky reputation, porcupines "can really move," according to meet director Suzan Jones. Indeed, a really worried porcupine can tear along at nearly 4 mph. The "world record" for the 50-foot Baker City course is 10.5 seconds, set by Porky's Revenge in 1986. That mark, unless it's broken this year, may stand for eternity.
Not that it will help their case, but porcupine racers can claim a literary precedent. In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, hedgehogs—a.k.a. porcupines—were used as croquet balls. Now that was wildlife harassment.
To Party Kits Unlimited, the distributors of souvenirs for the Kentucky Derby, for offering four ounces of genuine thoroughbred horse manure in its gift catalog and charging $2.75 for it.
Making a List
National Sportsmanship Day was observed on April 24 in more than 2,000 U.S. schools. With that in mind, here are 10 examples of sportsmanship.
1. Cleveland Stroud, basketball coach at Rockdale County (Ga.) High, relinquished the state title in 1987 after he discovered he had used an ineligible player for 45 seconds.
2. Jack Nicklaus conceded a two-foot putt to Tony Jacklin on the 18th hole of the 1969 Ryder Cup, resulting in the competition being halved.
3. Mats Wilander, holding match point during the 1982 French Open, announced that Josè-Luis Clerc's shot was good after it had been called out. Wilander won the replayed point.
4. Pee Wee Reese, Dodger shortstop, put his hand on teammate Jackie Robinson's shoulder during a game in Cincinnati in 1947, silencing the jeers of bigoted fans.
5. Edmund Ezra Day, Cornell's president, acknowledging that the TD in a 7-3 victory over Darmouth in '40 had come on a fifth down, gave up the win.
6. Greg Norman, leading the 1990 Palm Meadows Cup in Brisbane, disqualified himself after an inadvertent illegal drop.
7. Barney Ewell danced in the infield after he thought he had won the 100 meters at the 1948 Olympics. When a photo showed that Harrison Dillard had won, Ewell heartily congratulated him.
8. Anton Josipovi‚àÜí‚àö°, a light heavyweight from Yugoslavia, won the gold at the 1984 Olympics but brought bronze medalist Evander Holyfield-disqualified in a controversial decision-onto the platform with him.
9. Joe Sparma Tiger pitcher, interrupted Mickey Mantle Day in 1965 to shake Mantle's hand as he came up to bat. Sparma then forced him to pop out.
10. Luz Long, German broad jumper, gave Jesse Owens advice that kept him from fouling out at the 1936 Olympics. When Owens won the gold, Long was the first to congratulate him.
Joseph Guylas was such a frequent patron of Thistledown racetrack in Cleveland that his recent obituary in the Akron Beacon Journal read: "In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that a small wager in Joe's honor be made on a nag at the track. Do not expect it to win. It celebrates Joe's ascension to the great race track in the sky where he will enjoy considerably more luck."
No Lead Is Safe
Boston University scored 12 runs in the top of the first inning against Tufts last Thursday, and after two innings, the Terriers had a 15-0 lead. Their offense hardly let up after that, but the bats of Tufts came alive—so much so that after eight innings, the score was 24-24. In the ninth, BU scored one more run and shut out Tufts to win 25-24. Said Terrier coach Bill Mahoney, "I am looking to fire our defensive coordinator as soon as we get back."
Replay 20 Years Ago in Sports Illustrated
The ominous CATASTROPHE IN BOSTON billing on our April 26, 1971, cover referred to the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins' loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. Said Montreal's John Ferguson, "That's one dynasty that didn't last very long." The issue also carried a feature on heavyweight champion Joe Lewis. The spelling was right—Lewis was the heavyweight kickboxing champ.
THEY SAID IT
George Brett, Royals first baseman, on his performance in the Bob Hope Classic: "I was three over—one over a house, one over a patio and one over a swimming pool."
Princess Diana, upon meeting London Monarchs kicker Phil Alexander, who was in full uniform at a charity luncheon to promote the WLAF: "I think I'm underdressed."