THE SHORTS AGAIN
As happens every four years, the U.S. ski team is getting ready to go abroad for the World Ski Championships. And, as also happens every four years, the U.S. ski team has a bad case of the shorts. Out of $55,000 needed as a bare minimum, only $30,000 has been raised; and half the team leaves in two weeks. If the other $25,000 is not forthcoming, the other half of the squad stays home.
This would be pretty tough on kids who have trained most of their lives for this chance, then tried out for the team over a two-month series of races at their own expense. But it would be even tougher on the U.S. Why? Well, there are a number of countries that never lose a chance to make us look like bums. Our ski team wears the national shield on its uniforms. To Europeans, a national shield means a national team, whether it is made up of amateurs or not.
Unlike a great many other deserving sports, skiing is a multimillion-dollar proposition in this country. The multi-millions are made by manufacturers and resort owners, who get a fair amount of their publicity from racing. Some of them—like the Head Ski Company, Dartmouth Skis and the Mt. Mansfield Company—have already backed the team with cash. It seems odd that so many others should leave the financing to ordinary skiers who derive nothing more from the team than a mild sense of pride.
November 20, 1961
TWO FINE DUCKS
Fellow named Don Mack does an outdoors-type television show in Columbus, Ohio. The other day he beamed at the cameras and proudly displayed a brace of canvasbacks. He had, he announced proudly, shot them on a farm pond near his home. Too late, a station employee slipped a note into his hand: "You can't shoot these!" Federal agents put the arm on the hapless Mack after the show.
The ducks may eventually wind up in the Ohio State Museum to be mounted and displayed, so it shouldn't be a total loss, and Don Mack was taken before Judge Mell G. Underwood. His Honor was furious. He ordered Mack to read on his next show the full text of the federal law protecting canvasbacks. And the judge added: "You tell them, too, that I fined you $250 for each bird."
SPECULATION SET DOWN
Corporations selling stock to the public and engaging in Thoroughbred racing with the proceeds are now banned by a new rule of the New York State Racing Commission. Florida, California, New Jersey and all in-between points, please copy. If bettors want to become owners, let them buy horses and not stock. Such corporate racing, as we have pointed out, offers too much opportunity for fixing in brokerage and bookmaking establishments as well as in stables and paddocks.
It was with genuine regret last week that burly Jack Nicklaus gave up his standing as the world's best amateur golfer and announced he was turning pro. For two years he had nurtured the hope that he could be another Bobby Jones, combining an amateur's attitude and status with a professional's competence, to become the very symbol of his sport. But golf has grown so much that neither Nicklaus nor anyone else with his overwhelming ability can sensibly remain an amateur anymore.
Few athletes can hope to attain the levels of financial success now open to the very best golf pros. Nicklaus scoffed the other day at a published report he would make $ 100,000 a year. But he will. Gary Player grosses more than that, and Arnold Palmer makes twice that much out of tournament winnings and a seemingly endless variety of golf-associated businesses. These are the big two of the U.S. golf circuit. The big two will become the big three in January when Nicklaus goes to California to join them.
Although we feel a twinge of nostalgia for the passing era of the amateur, we applaud Nicklaus' decision. A lot more people than before are going to be able to see and appreciate both the tremendous talent and engaging personality of young Jack Nicklaus. He shouldn't be sorry he turned professional. The vast majority of golf fans aren't.
Recent revelations on muscle building without movement (SI, Oct. 30) have brought a spate of ideas across our desk. An Englishman comes up with the theory that worry is the route to strength and health. Get in there and worry hard, he advises, and watch the muscles grow. A youthful character in English literature—whose name now escapes us—spent long hours in a supine position to conserve his muscles. He believed that he thus would become the strongest man in the world, but his father kicked him into action before the test was complete. But we are most titillated over a historical vignette submitted by one of our London correspondents. "There was a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma," he writes, "who meditated for nine years facing a wall. Then he turned around and taught his followers boxing."
FRIEND OF EDUCATION
Usually it is the rah-rah alumni who push the overemphasis of football on the American campus. They slip $10 bills into the hands of star players, provide them with plush part-time jobs and fight for special privileges for chowderheads whose sole qualification for college is their ability to play football. But at Ohio State—of all places—there is an alumni secretary who is the precise opposite. For years John B. Fullen has used his acid pen to battle for reason and sensibility. Last week he was tilting again. Ohio State University's Faculty Council had put through a new athletic scholarship program. It went through, said Fullen, under false pretenses. Among other things noted by Fullen in an acerbic article in the campus newspaper: aided athletes must maintain only a 1.7 grade average as freshmen, 1.8 the second year, 1.9 the third and 2 the fourth. The university average is 2.5, but students on academic scholarships lose their financial assistance once they dip below 3.
Then Fullen took on the school's football coach, Woody Hayes, famed competitor and staunch advocate of three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust football. Noting that Hayes had observed that the job of OSU football players was, to some extent, football, Fullen said: "The job of these boys is 'to some extent' getting an education." If OSU is so hell-bent to win games, Fullen went on, it should hire a professional football team and control it under a Bureau of Football. Some cynics say, of course, that this already has happened.
THE BIG O (CONT.)
When Charles O. Finley bought control of the Kansas City Athletics in 1960, they were an eighth-place team. When the American League expanded to 10 teams this past season, however, the A's proved that they had the ability to finish in a tie for ninth. Next year, who knows?
Finley, of course, did shuffle some of his office personnel around. Among those shuffled were General Manager Frank Lane (fired), Field Manager Joe Gordon (fired), Farm Manager Hank Peters (fired), Assistant General Manager and Farm Director Bill Bergesch (resigned), Director of Player Personnel George Selkirk (resigned) and seven of the A's scouts (resigned). Currently, Finley is enforcing a directive that bars any member of the A's front office from speaking to any reporter from the city's best paper, The Kansas City Star (circulation 337,482). The A's attendance last season, even with two more home games than they had in 1960, fell 91,127.
Finley, in discussing the firing of Lane, said, "At no time did I find Lane knew as much about baseball as I did, and that's not saying much." That's saying quite a bit.
EXERCISE IN MAGIC
Students at Pleasure Ridge Park High in Jefferson County, Ky. imposed a strict rule of silence on themselves in an effort to wheedle some consideration out of the fickle gods of defeat—the football team had lost eight straight games. It was an idea thought up by the cheerleaders.
Apart from giggles and the screaking of chalk, complete quiet reigned on the "day of silence," from 8:00 in the morning till 2:30 in the afternoon. With the faculty quietly enthusiastic, communication in class was carried on by written notes and messages on blackboards. Some ingenious students wore signs with Yes, No and Hello written on them, pointing to the appropriate word as necessary.
Then, shortly after 2:30, the students' vocal cords were officially unleashed in a gigantic, blow-the-lid-off pressure cooker of a pep rally. The team immediately lost to Valley High School 21-6. Back, as they say, to the drawing board.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Officials of the American Football League are about ready to shift the Oakland franchise to either Portland or Seattle for the 1962 season. Reason: poor attendance.
•Despite chances of a dull mismatch, the Floyd Patterson-Tom McNeeley fight scheduled for Toronto on December 4 is selling tickets ($50, $30, $20) at the rate of $1,000 a day. Reason: much Canadian expense account money has been set aside for the December 2 Grey Cup football game, and many corporations are allowing their executives to stay over to entertain clients at the fight.
•Mississippi already has accepted a bid to play in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day at Dallas. School officials will not make the announcement public until after the team's last regular-season game on December 2.
ADIOS, ADIOS BUTLER
"Come on he-yuh," growled the old caretaker indulgently as he hitched Adios Butler to a sulky. The world's fastest harness racer obediently stood still. A little later, snorting plumes of vapor in the frosty night air at New York's Roosevelt Raceway, the Butler won his last race—the National Pacing Derby. There was a polite spatter of applause, that was all. The absence of any deep emotion was understandable, for he somehow is almost totally lacking in charisma, the thing that made people jump for Whirlaway and JFK. Fans respected his greatness, but they did not love him.
Perhaps this was because Adios Butler was so damn good. He usually went to the front, accelerated in the stretch and simply outpaced the others. There was seldom any sense of struggle.
Furthermore, so much publicity was given his financial affairs that it was easy to think of him as Adios Butler, Inc., the money machine. Syndicate value: $600,000. Race winnings: $509,844. Stud fee as he begins service: a reported $3,000, a record for a newcomer. Those figures inspire awe but not affection. The machine for racing now becomes a machine for reproduction.
There is a man, though, who loved the Butler with all his heart—that caretaker, Sylvanus Henry. Said Henry, Saturday, as the horse left his meticulous hands: "I will miss him greatly."
THEY SAID IT
•Tom NcNeeley, heavyweight contender against Floyd Patterson: "I hope the 10-to-1 odds against me hold; my friends will make a killing."
•Art Lave, coach of Kenyon College football team, at a Columbus Kiwanis meeting: "An alumnus said, 'Coach, here's a boy who can play at Kenyon.' I looked him in the eye and said: 'We've got too many boys now who can play at Kenyon; what we need are boys who can play at Ohio State.' "
•Norm Cash, Detroit Tiger first baseman, after an airplane he was flying in lost one of its two engines and was welcomed by two fire trucks and an ambulance: "The next time I come to Dallas, I'm gonna ride my horse."
•Gene (Big Daddy) Lipscomb of the Pittsburgh Steelers, guest at the Cleveland Touchdown Club, on pro football line play: "When a man mess with me, I just politely tell him, 'All right, Jack, don't do that no more.' And most fellers listen. For those who don't, I smack my hand flat against the earhole of their helmets. In this game a feller sort of works out his own problems."
•Halfback Lance Alworth of Arkansas, answering an old grad who suggested that the Texas players who beat Arkansas looked beat up: "If they were, it was self-inflicted."
•Cleveland Pitcher Dick Donovan on hearing he finished second in the voting for AL Comeback Player of the Year award: "There must be some mistake; I've never been away."