The darkening news from Egypt and Hungary came to the world last week almost at the hour that the Olympic flame—lighted with a burning glass from sunlight on the Olympian hills and carried across Greece by relays of runners—was being transferred (on the wick of a miner's lamp) to an Australian airplane for shipment across the seas to Melbourne. It seemed, amidst the appalling gloom, a very tiny light indeed; in fact there was even reason to fear that international bitterness might force cancellation of the Olympics and that the flame might never burn at Melbourne at all. One more Hungarian athlete—this time the pentathlon champion, Istvan Hegad√ºs—was shot to death as the Russians forced their way back into Budapest. At week's end, however, almost all the nations had apparently come to unspoken agreement on something curiously like the ancient Olympic truce.
Only one country—Iraq—formally withdrew from the Games last week. The Hungarian team, withdrawn when the revolt began in Budapest, eventually got the blessing of both its country's factions and went to Prague to await air transportation to Australia. The Soviet steamship Gruzia, which was believed to be keeping radio silence at sea, or perhaps even returning to Odessa, contacted Australian coastal radio stations and announced it would dock six days late with 91 Russian and 17 Hungarian athletes and officials. Other Russian team members moved toward Melbourne by air; Dutch, Polish, British and Swedish athletes were already on the ground. The U.S. team would begin arriving this week.
There seemed to be no inclination on the part of the International Olympic Committee or Australian officialdom to allow national feeling involved in the British and French foray against Egypt to touch the Games. "The Games," said Avery Brundage, chairman of the IOC, "are not concerned with political matters." The Australian Olympic official Wilfrid S. Kent Hughes—who is also a member of the Australian House of Representatives—declined to hear Prime Minister Menzies report on the Middle East situation lest attention to national concerns on his part jeopardize his country's position as Olympic host.
November 12, 1956
To say that the Olympics could remain untouched by the world's travail would of course be utter nonsense. One can only wonder what will be in the minds of the Hungarians as they leave Europe, or for that matter in the minds of Arab and Englishman, Frenchman and Pole as they engage in competition. But there was something infinitely touching about a late report from Melbourne: more than 300 athletes are already installed in the new Olympic village and, as far as officials there can tell, not one has permitted himself to speak of politics or war.
As they have done each year since the death of Grantland Rice in 1954—and are bound to do for years to come—Granny's friends, admirers and disciples in the organization known as the Sportsmanship Brotherhood met last week in a session of affectionate memorial and recall. A guest of honor was Dr. Harvie Branscomb, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, Grantland Rice's old school, and in the spirit of the occasion he contributed a new chapter to the Grantland Rice legend.
"So much has been said about Granny," Chancellor Branscomb began, "that the only thing left for me to do as an academic is to report on his college grades. Well, I looked them up and all I am going to say on this otherwise cheerful occasion is that there was an improvement.... He took mathematics as a freshman and again as a sophomore. Evidently he loved the course, for the sophomore course appears to have been the same one he took as a freshman....
"One item on the record makes one tremble in retrospect. In his senior year in college Grantland elected his only graduate course. This was 'Graduate Economics,' a course usually designed to make statisticians of the students enrolled. My only reassurance as I contemplate what might have happened is the thought that though we professors throw academic baseballs at young men's heads...they can dodge."
Chancellor Branscomb paid his respects to Columnist Red Smith, the winner of this year's Grantland Rice Award, whose texts, the chancellor revealed, are becoming textbook examples at Vanderbilt nowadays. Then, with a Tennessee glint in his eye, he went on.
"You sportswriters," he told them, "and, of course, I include sportscasters and leading figures in the world of sport—set the standards of sportsmanship in the American people; and sportsmanship means basic moral character. I don't need to tell you gentlemen what most men read first or at least most carefully in the daily press.... There can be but little doubt, especially if one adds fishing to the list, that competitive sports, either as participant or spectator, constitute the major recreational interest of Americans....
"I was very much impressed with the Code of Sportsmanship which is in some of your literature, a code presented not as a set of moral maxims, but as a part of the happy injunction to 'Play the Game.'...And yet, as good as it is, I would suggest that with the development of American sport there has come in an added dimension that needs to be brought somehow within the code.... We have all heard and said much about the dangers of commercialization in amateur sport, and they are real. Instead of the game, the money becomes the chief thing and one plays not for fun, friendship, and glory, but for the publicity and the signed offer. We have made rules against the amateur accepting money for his skill and strength and have tried to combat the evils which we know too well.
"I would suggest that the development of sports has gotten to the point where the preservation of the amateur spirit is going to have to be stated not solely in terms of the high school graduate and the lone tennis player. Lincoln said this nation cannot be half slave and half free. We cannot have amateur players and commercial management. The institutions which sponsor our athletics will have to be challenged to remain amateur also.
"Most of the ills of our amateur athletics, at least on the college level, can be traced to the fact that the colleges, the associations and the bowls are making money or endeavoring to make money out of the gate."
THE GHOST OF WES SANTEE
Though he has long since been banished to the outer darkness of professionalism, Wes Santee may yet be remembered as the perverse man who did the most in his generation to influence a renaissance of the amateur spirit in the U.S. Delegates to the Amateur Athletic Union's national convention at Los Angeles—reacting to the Santee case—last week voted a general overhaul of AAU rules governing expenses and, in so doing, took a more liberal and a more realistic view of the problems which Santee dramatized last year in such embarrassing fashion.
Under the new AAU laws the basic allowance for athletes traveling to meets away from home remains $15 a day; in areas where this is insufficient, however, athletes may draw an extra $5 and furthermore will be allowed, as they were not before, to draw expenses for the day preceding and the day following meets held less than 150 miles from home. At the same time two long-abused loopholes in the rules have been closed—an action, it seems obvious, that should have been taken years ago. Meet directors must now list the amounts of expense money paid athletes (heretofore such accounting was not mandatory), and athletes must file travel permits showing all meets in which they intend to compete on one trip. This simple device prevents an ancient and flagrant abuse of amateur rules, for heretofore a New York athlete competing, say, in three West Coast meets could quite possibly get three round-trip air or train tickets and cash in two of them.
"We did not," said the AAU attorney, Pincus Sober, "have any trouble such as the Santee case for 64 years, and I don't think we'll have it again for another 64 years."
Two months ago the Professional Golfers' Association set up a committee of self-appraisal for the study of "rules of conduct"—rules for the pros, that is. The committee, which includes such authorities as Bob Toski, Doug Ford and Tommy (Terrible-tempered) Bolt, is due to report next month. But meanwhile, it seems, PGA reflections on good and bad golf manners have already led to some tentative commandments—just as applicable to the weekend golfer as to the pro. Here they are—in the phrasing of J. Edwin Carter, PGA tournament director:
Thou Shalt Not Move, Swing or Talk While Another Player Is Executing His Shot.
Thou Shalt Not Drive Blindly into Players Ahead or Approach to an Occupied Green.
Thou Shalt Replace Divots and Repair Damage Done to Sand Traps.
Thou Shalt Not Deface Greens and Thou Shalt Repair All Bad Marks.
Thou Shalt Not Take a Golf Bag or Cart onto an Apron or Green.
Thou Shalt Not Putt out of Turn, Take Practice Putts After Holing Out or Take Unnecessary Time to Make Scores While Standing on Greens.
Thou Shalt Not Display Unsportsmanlike Behavior Such as Throwing Clubs, Losing Temper or Quitting, etc.
Thou Shalt Not Leave Putting Area While Competitor Is Sinking a Putt or Rush Down the Fairway Ahead of the Rest of Your Playing Group.
Thou Shalt Not Be Discourteous to Other Players or to Your Caddie.
Thou Shalt Not Hold Up Fellow Players and Shalt Always Let Faster Groups Play Through.
One of the reasons the pros are examining their own good-conduct rules is that the tournament circuit and the tensions of the tournament circuit have been growing at approximately the same rate. Moreover, the number of tournament spectators has vastly increased since World War II. Put all these new fans on courses not always right for a pro tournament, combine with the touring professionals themselves (Carter admits some pros are surly) and you have the stage set for misunderstandings.
Ed Carter thinks it is just possible that he may have some tentative commandments, one of these days, for golf spectators.
"Of course," he says, "we must all remember the Bible wasn't written in a day."
VERY RESPECTED GUY
Americans who bet big money on football games phoned Winnipeg, Canada as usual last week (the number: 92-7210) and were startled by the odds that were quoted. Some of the odds, in fact, were downright nonsense, and the more knowing bettors hung up. The unknowing, however, didn't. Happily they wagered, never suspecting that the phones were being manned and the odds improvised on the spot by Winnipeg policemen.
For the Morality Squad, led by Inspector Jack Webster, had raided the O.K. Sales Co., Ltd., an enterprise with offices on Winnipeg's Main Street. It was incorporated only six weeks ago as a commission and brokerage house dealing in "wares, products, and merchandise of every kind and nature whatsoever...." Inspector Webster claimed, though, that O.K. Sales dealt in nothing but big bets—on American football, collegiate and professional; on the presidential elections; and (in season) on the World Series. He arrested five men and charged them with keeping a betting house.
Among them was a plump little Chicagoan named Leo Schaeffer. If Leo is found guilty in a Winnipeg court it will probably bring to an end the career of a senior figure (he is 56) in U.S. gambling. Leo has always had a first-class reputation among his pals. Some of them recall that from the very beginning of his big-time bookie career (in Chicago, just after World War II) Leo was "the nicest human being you ever talked to." When the mobsters demanded a piece of his operation around 1951, Leo quit Chicago and was able to take the business and the good will of his customers with him. Around 1952 he and a friend pioneered international betting in Montreal, and were so successful that other U.S. bookies swarmed after them, fleeing the mob. The mob followed; things got hot, and everybody left Montreal.
Leo's friends say he should have retired right then: his partner died, and he was rich from the good days in Chicago and Montreal. But Leo loved his pals and his work, football especially. Winnipeg caught his eye this year, and so the O.K. Sales Co., dealing in commodities of every kind whatsoever, was born. One of Leo's acquaintances estimates that O.K. Sales booked $50,000 a day in football alone and labels the estimate conservative.
The maximum penalty for keeping a betting house in Winnipeg is two years' imprisonment. Saddened U.S. bettors think that Leo will really retire now, whether he is found guilty or not.
"All that aggravation, running the risk," says one of them. "It's too much. Leo was a very highly respected guy. He was highly respected, you might say, in circles in which he was respected." In Corpus Christi, Milwaukee, Palm Beach, New York, everybody is going to miss Leo. "It's a blow to people who bet. Everybody's looking around for new bookmakers, but Leo's business is too big for one bookie to take over. You can't get off a big bet now—you've got to take it 40 times."
HOW TO MAKE A FIRST DOWN
This is apt to shake the foundations of mathematical orthodoxy, but in Dayton the other day six inches of a football field disappeared. The University of Detroit freshman football team was at one point just six inches shy of making a first down. On the next play the Detroiters were declared offside and duly penalized five yards. On the next play the opposing Dayton freshmen were in their turn offside and penalized, and Detroit regained the lost five yards. Mathematics, not to mention logic, would now hold that Detroit was once more six inches short of its first down. The officials, however, had no faith in such logical folderol. Like good pragmatists they measured again just to be sure—and, by golly, Detroit had made it. First down. Never mind how, you in the back of the classroom; facts are facts.
Though you may remember that Einstein held that if two systems are in relative motion with a uniform linear velocity it is impossible for observers in either system to learn anything more about the motion than the fact that there is this relative motion.
Right? Right. First down.
A more serious official slipup occurred in the Michigan-Iowa game Saturday after Iowa's Don Dobrino intentionally grounded a pass, which is, of course, illegal. Referee Ross Dean stepped off a 15-yard penalty that set Iowa back to its seven-yard line.
Iowa Coach Forest Evashevski, his view of the field partially obstructed, phoned his press box spotter and asked what the penalty was for.
"Intentional grounding," said the spotter.
"You're crazy," snorted Evashevski. "The penalty for intentional grounding is only five yards."
Evashevski was right; so was the spotter—so far as they went. The fellow who was all wrong was the ref, who had indeed signaled intentional grounding, and then paced off a penalty of 15 yards instead of five. Iowa, leading 14-10 at the time, never recovered, really, and Michigan came on to win 17-14.
Nobody raised the point until after the game, when SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Jack Olsen got to the authorities. By then, all that the assistant commissioner of the Big Ten, Bill Reed, could say was: "He made a mistake on that one. In plain words—man, he goofed."
I've read of duck hunting in Venice,
A place where the duck hunter finds,
While awaiting his quarry's arrival,
A use for Venetian blinds.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
•Big Balanced Budget
The U.S. Olympic Committee sighted its financial goal of $1,500,000 in contributions, provided outstanding pledges are made good. The total included the largest gift ever made to the Olympic Fund: $132,000 from the Gillette Co., which contributed a dime for every razor it sold in July and August.
The Brooklyn Dodgers underscored their determination to have a new stadium by selling Ebbets Field for the site of a future housing development—with the understanding that they can lease it for five years, at a higher rental for the fourth and fifth years than for the first three.
Sugar Bowl officials, curbed a bit in their reach by the Louisiana segregation law, are talking hopefully of attracting a service school like Navy for the New Year's Day game. But on the more practical side they are scanning such Southern schools as Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Baylor.
•Make the Omelet But Don't Break the Eggs
University of Iowa spokesmen indicated that one point of the Big Ten's proposed athletic code revision doesn't suit them: keying scholarship help to the degree of financial need. Iowa, squeezed geographically between Big Ten and Big Seven regions, felt this would give Big Seven schools a recruiting edge.