The essence of theNational Football League's contract with CBS, which has now been ruled inviolation of antitrust laws, is that all NFL clubs would share equally in themoney paid by the network to televise games. The reason for such an arrangementis that a team like the New York Giants, with a huge home-area audience, has nodifficulty getting a good price for telecasts of its road games, while a teamlike Green Bay has difficulty even selling TV rights to its games. Obviously,therefore, if each team negotiated TV rights on its own, those in big citieswould have a tremendous financial advantage over those in small cities, thoughboth are selling the same commodity—NFL football. Indeed, many league ownersbelieve that without a reasonable share of TV money some NFL clubs would beforced out of business.
Federal JudgeAllan Grim's decision negating the contract has the effect of encouraging therich to get richer and obliging the poor to remain that way, surely theopposite intent of antitrust legislation. In addition, the richer teams wouldinevitably become better teams, and the poorer teams would become worse teams.It seems to us too bad that a distinction before the law cannot be made betweena sports association—to whose advantage (and the public's) it is to fieldevenly matched teams—and, say, a group of car manufacturers. Pro football, weagree, is as much business as it is sport, but it is a special kind of businessand should be judged accordingly.
August 6, 1961
The poll hasclearly become as much a part of baseball as the bat and ball. No aspect of thegame goes blissfully unrated. To the old list of Most Valuable Player, bestmanager, outstanding pitcher and top rookie such newcomers as best sophomoreand biggest comeback have recently been added.
Umpires, oncefaceless bodies of unquestioned integrity, are also getting the treatment. Aslisted in The Sporting News, a poll of sportswriters, coaches and managerstells us which umpires are the neatest (Ed Vargo, Ed Hurley, Jocko Conlan,Larry Napp and Cal Drummond), which are the least likely to eject players(Dusty Boggess, Bill McKinley and Red Flaherty) and which are the quickest atmaking decisions (Jocko Conlan, Charlie Berry and Larry Napp). We also learnthat Frank Dascoli and Hurley are the most difficult to talk to, the worstpop-offs and the biggest grand-standers. The most surprising of the 20categories listed is "best knowledge of rules" (Al Barlick and Berry),because all umpires are supposed to know the rules thoroughly.
When the poll waspublished, Barlick—also one of the "most respected, mostserious-minded"—became, in this instance, the quickest to call the play. Hedecided the poll was ridiculous. "What do the writers know aboutumpiring?" he asked. "All they know is what they're told." As forthe category "most respected," Barlick said that the respect of playersfor umpires is such a fickle thing that it defies any attempt at analysis. Inshort, he rated the poll as most foolish and least likely to succeed.
IQs FOR QBs
If Mr. Lawson pays$65 a month rent and earns a salary of $3,120 a year, what percent of hissalary does he pay for rent?
What is theopposite of diminutive—distraught, large, inductive or reluctant?
If lemons sell atthree for 10¢, how much will a dozen and a half cost?
A man walks twofeet six inches per step and takes 100 steps per minute. How many feet does hewalk in one-twelfth of an hour?
If the sequence ofnumbers is 4, 6, 3, 7, 9, 6, 10, what should be the next number?
These are samplesof 126 problems that confronted the Cleveland Browns professional football teamas their training camp opened recently at Hiram College. The players were given20 minutes in which to answer as many of the questions as possible. Somefinished the whole examination. Others skipped through and marked down answersthey were sure of.
A similar test isgiven the Browns each season to provide Coach Paul Brown with some idea of themental capabilities of his players, particularly the rookies, most of whomarrive in camp with brand-new college degrees. Brown says that no perfect scorehas ever been registered.
"Some yearsago the test showed that one of the candidates for our team would make a finecarpenter," he recalls. "And that's just what he eventuallybecame."
So popular ishandsome soccer star Francisco Gento, captain of the Spanish national team (SI,July 3), that women sigh when he passes, children shout and men murmur,"Gento, Gento," in awe and admiration. In a country where the passionfor soccer approaches hysteria, he is considered one of the most valuablenational assets, especially as the days of world championship play approach,Imagine then the reaction from the Juan in the street all the way to ElCaudillo himself when it was reported recently that Gento would soon leaveSpain and his Real Madrid team to accept a huge offer from the Inter Club ofMilan, Italy. Alan Shepard was quitting the U.S. to direct Russia'sman-to-the-moon program!
Reporters besiegedGento. Yes, he said, he'd been approached by Inter, not once but four times.How much had they offered him? Sixty million pesetas—or one million Americandollars-to be divided between him and Real Madrid, plus bonuses and livingallowances. Yes. said Real's chairman, it was all true. Gento was free to leaveif he chose.
Did Gento choose?He did not.
"When I was alad," he said, "and just starting to play professionally, I wanted thetwo things every athlete wants, fame and money. With Real Madrid I got both,more of each than I need. I have received, as the old flamenco song puts it,'Love, tenderness and wealth.' Money isn't everything in my life. I am happywhere I am."
Add our awe andrespect.
The strike ofbackstretch employees that broke out suddenly at New York's Aqueduct race trackwas a silly sideshow combining irregular labor practices on the part of Local917 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, evasion of realresponsibility on the part of the New York Racing Association and stiff-neckedstubbornness on the part of some horse trainers and owners. After a week ofinconvenience to racing fans—many of whom stayed home—of loss to stable-handsand other track employees, and of some violence, the strike gradually peteredout. There is no assurance, however, that the problem has even been faced, letalone resolved, and renewed union activity is expected when the horses go backto Aqueduct after the Saratoga meeting (see page 20). There is also a chancestrikes will spread to other tracks throughout the country.
What is theproblem? The men who cool out horses after training or racing, who exercisethem in the mornings and who do their housekeeping in the barns live under aloose paternalism. Owners and trainers with whom they have had friendlyrelations for years sometimes give them a handout to supplement their wages,which vary widely from barn to barn. A number of them have no other skills andare illiterate and could not command much in the labor market. However, somewere sufficiently dissatisfied with their lot to respond eagerly when New YorkLocal 917 of the Teamsters began organizing them last September. The union wasauthorized by the State Labor Relations Board to hold elections stable bystable, to determine whether it could act as bargaining agent. Up to Thursday,July 20th, the union had won 19 elections, lost 12 and five were in dispute.Then, claiming that its members were being threatened with firing, whiletrainers charged intimidation, the union called a strike—without waiting forcompletion of the elections. The union demands were $75 a week for hotwalkers,$95 for grooms and $125 for exercise boys, a six-instead of seven-day week withprovisions for overtime and recognition of the union as agent.
Trainers andowners were up in arms, and cried bankruptcy. Small stables that regularly gointo the red have a case. Big stables that rarely show an annual profit eitherbut have tax benefits on their losses have less of a case. The New York RacingAssociation, which runs Thoroughbred racing in the state, assumed a pose ofneutrality, but the union claimed that it was extremely active behind thescenes in helping to break the strike.
We believe thatthe union had no business calling the strike before it had won fair elections,but that owners and trainers must join the 20th century and deal responsiblywith accredited representatives of their employees. We also think that the NYRAand the state (which takes in about 5350,000 a day from Thoroughbred racing)share a duty to help settle disputes and maintain the sport without strife.
A "rocketstart" was used in the National Association of Left-handed Golfers amateurtournament at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. last week. Thepurpose was to play a huge field—256 golfers—on one course between morning andevening in four days. Action began at 8:30 a.m. on all 18 teessimultaneously—128 golfers for the morning round, 128 for the afternoon. Therocket blasted off at the clubhouse and whap, whap, whap—like the Rockettes,almost—went the lefties. Naturally, there were complications—as when foursomeswere backed up by a high-handicap player who spent time in the rough on thehole ahead or by a stubborn one who refused to abandon the search for a lostball. But the tournament went off on schedule, with players keeping score fromwhere they started, and the winner was Ed Sweetman, of Greensboro, with a293.
The rocket starthas a strong advocate in the lefties' president, Norman James. "The averagegolfer is delighted with the system," says James, who does nearlyeverything right-handed except when shooting golf or hitting a baseball."It's just habit to start on No. 1 and finish on No. 18. If we renumberedevery hole, what would be the difference? Purely psychological." Anyway, itworked in Greensboro.
Ring Lardner wasthe best sportswriter in the country during the '20s. His son John was the bestof a later generation, though he wrote equally well about many othersubjects—television, war, the theater and the eccentricities of human behaviorin general—before he died last year at 47.
John Lardnerspared readers the sentimentality that pervades the work of some of hiscolleagues, and he never strained, as so many do, for the lush. His wit wasdry, his ear sensitive, his fantasy hilarious. Now some of his millions of goodwords have been collected in The World of John Lardner by his friend,sportswriter Roger Kahn, with a preface by Walt Kelly, creator of the comicstrip Pogo. In it are Lardner portraits of Titanic Thompson, leading hustler ofhis day, prizefighters Stanley Ketchel and Battling Siki (who were bothmurdered), and Babe Herman; a critical essay on The Great Spring TrainingNonsense in baseball; some of Lardner's superb war correspondence, and anunfinished history of drinking in the U.S. We recommend the book to alladmirers of a warm and urbane mind at work.
Cleveland baseballfans may be taking their last look at the Indians, because chances are goodthat the club will be playing in California next season. For reasons close totheir pocketbooks, the American League club owners are anxious to put a secondteam on the Coast. The long trip out there for just a series with the Angelshas proved a financial loss for every club except the New York Yankees. So somefranchise must be moved to California, preferably a sick one, and right nowthey don't come much sicker than Cleveland.
Two years ago theIndians drew a million and a half fans (that was the first season Frank Lanegot a nickel a head for everyone over 800,000), but last year attendancedropped under a million. This season it is off another 230,000, even though theIndians have been in the pennant race for much of the time.
Two Californiacities have been mentioned as prospective homes for the Indians. One isOakland, across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, where League President JoeCronin comes from. Naturally Cronin would like to see his league representedthere, but it is doubtful the area could support two clubs. Nevertheless,Oakland is preparing to build a stadium for a major league team.
Next is thegrowing (naturally) community of San Diego. C. Arnholt Smith, owner of the SanDiego Padres, has been talking with Hank Greenberg, a great wheeler and dealer,about buying a club, possibly Cleveland. If the Cleveland owners decide not tosell, they may move the team to San Diego anyway.
William R. Daley,board chairman and principal owner of the Indians, told Cleveland ColumnistGordon Cobble-dick that no one in authority has seriously considered the move.Daley had ambitious plans, all based on staying in Cleveland. It sounded justlike one of those votes of confidence.
Half of all football injuries occur in the mouth area, and too often a lifetimeof dental misery is the result of an afternoon's play. Now, parents and playerswill be happy to learn, something is being done on a national scale to stopthis. Through the cooperation of the American Dental Association, the AmericanAssociation for Health, Physical Education and Recreation and several sportsgroups, a pilot plan is in progress in two counties of the state of Washingtonsupplying custom-made latex mouth protectors to high school players at a costof $2 per protector. It has been extremely successful, and this fall no juniorhigh or high school youngster in those areas will be allowed to play without aprotector. By next year they will be available to every high school and collegeplayer in the country. Compared with the hundred-odd dollars per player spentfor other equipment, a $2 protector is the sport's biggest bargain.
THEY SAID IT
•Ted Williams, now supposedly mellowing in retirement,on whether his bitter feuds with sportswriters had been exaggerated: "Hell,no."
•Sam Snead, on the layout of the Olympia Fields coursenear Chicago, site of this year's PGA championships: "These golf architectsmake me sick. They can't play golf, so they try to rig the courses so nobodyelse can play either."
•Blackie Sherrod, Dallas sports editor, on DonDrysdale, L.A. Dodger pitcher and TV actor: "A baseball in the large righthand of Don Drysdale is equal to a machete in the grip of most people. He isquite strong enough to throw a soft-boiled egg through a battleship."