REBELS WITH A CAUSE
Officials of the Amateur Athletic Union spent a good deal of their time at last week's convention in Washington decrying the NCAA's "grab for power." That was their way of describing NCAA charges that the AAU, governing body for 16 different amateur sports in this country, is a bungling, dictatorial administrator that stubbornly refuses to grant the colleges fair representation on its policy-making councils. Behind their bluster, however, the AAU began a housecleaning that may clear the way for an equitable compromise.
Set to retire are two old-line AAU men who have faced constant criticism from the dissidents. They are 72-year-old Daniel J. Ferris, who has been the administrative head of the AAU for 30 years, and Pincus Sober, the chairman of the men's track and field committee. Replacing Ferris as top administrator is Colonel Donald Hull, who will assume the office of executive director as soon as he effects his retirement from the U.S. Army. Captain Stephen Archer of the U.S. Navy, the new secretary, will aid Hull. Louis Fisher of High Point, N.C., the AAU's new president (he succeeds Nick J. Barack, more or less automatically), and Hull say they intend to investigate the AAU-NCAA dispute from top to bottom and secure "satisfactory adjustment of representation." Hull adds, "Perhaps a change in personalities will alleviate the present difficulties."
Perhaps. But the new leaders of the AAU should recognize that the rebellion they are trying to end is more than a dissatisfaction with Dan Ferris and Pinky Sober. The cause of the opposition—greater democracy within the AAU—is a just one, and until it is achieved the rebellion will continue. If the AAU does not act quickly and sensibly, it may find itself a vast organization with nothing left to rule over but baton twirling and horseshoe pitching.
December 11, 1961
THE INSIDE TRACK
At this time of the year the people who run football start making behind-the-scenes plans for playoff games, conference changes and the firing of coaches. Herewith some things to watch for in football during the next few weeks.
•The American Football League's championship game may outdraw the National Football League's title game this year. With the San Diego Chargers assured of winning the AFL's Western Division, 7,000 seats will be added to San Diego's Balboa Stadium, hiking its capacity to 41,500. City Stadium of the Green Bay Packers, winners of the NFL's Western Conference race and host team for the NFL championship game, can hold only 38,669.
•The Football Rules Committee will attempt to reduce the amount of quarterbacking being done from the bench by college coaches. The committee is expected to reinstitute the rule that prohibits substitutes from talking until one play has transpired.
•Scouts suggest that Jimmy Brown, outstanding ground gainer for the Cleveland Browns, is tipping off his plays. Apparently Brown indicates that he is going to receive the ball and run with it when he leans forward in a sprinter's stance on lining up. When he is not going to run with the ball, scouts say, he tends to lean back a little.
•East Carolina College of Greenville, N.C. will make a strong pitch to get into the nine-team Southern Conference later this week. East Carolina, with an enrollment of 5,000 students, is building a 16,000-seat stadium, which will have a larger capacity than stadiums of conference members Davidson, Virginia Military and Furman.
•Jim Pittman, offensive line coach at the University of Texas, is the top prospect for the head coaching job at Mississippi State, replacing Wade Walker, who is now full-time athletic director.
BUZZ, TOOT AND GULP
This department likes to keep an eye on new products and has done its bit to cover such innovations as the plastic sand-castle mold and the breakaway bottle filled with ersatz champagne. We also have noted that people are sewing radios inside porcupines they want to keep track of. Now we've found a couple of new ones.
First is an electronic fishing rig—reel, pole, line and an earphone. Inside the rod butt are two transistors that power the earphone and sensitize the line so it picks up underwater vibrations. When a fish swims close, the sound he makes travels up the line; you can hear him swishing around, and thus be ready to strike the instant he touches the bait, rather than the instant after, as you have been doing all these fishless years.
The other gadget is a horn attached to the top of a ski pole, the idea being that instead of running over a slower-moving skier, you can toot him over to the side. Ordinarily, contraptions like these will send us off into spasms of sarcasm. But this time such comments seem unnecessary. These two latest gadgets carry the seeds of their own destruction. Picture, now, the marvelous confusion two years from now—after the fish have caught on to the microphone lure. The fisherman drowses on the riverbank. Suddenly a torrent of insults comes buzzing through the reel. Raucous old bass—largemouth bass—tell other bass to get a load of this guy. Lady salmon shriek at him. Ill-bred small fry giggle. Rough fish join in. Who could endure it?
As for the ski horn, the first guy who blows it in the midst of an all-out schuss will, for the rest of his days, answer all questions with a plaintive toot, thanks to the presence of the horn in his larynx, thrust there by the overtaken skier.
ECHOES OF THE FIX
As indicated on page 28, college basketball has begun a season of extraordinary promise. However, echoes of the point shaving fixes continue to disturb the sport, and further investigation of some of last year's games will lead shortly to the arrest of more bribers and the involvement of more schools in the scandal. When it finally is told, the full story also will affect the new American Basketball League because one of its players, Connie Hawkins, is involved.
Hawkins plays for the Pittsburgh Rens of the ABL. He is perhaps the best player in the league and certainly one of its biggest gate attractions. He was a freshman at the University of Iowa last year and quit on May 15, 1961, ostensibly for academic and financial reasons, though he was mentioned briefly in stories about the fix scandal after he left Iowa. Recently several stories in Pittsburgh newspapers have intimated that Hawkins was absolved of any implication in the scandal by New York District Attorney Frank Hogan, and is therefore completely eligible to play in the ABL. This is not precisely true. The facts:
Hawkins and his friend Roger Brown, also a basketball player and a student at the University of Dayton, accepted about $400 and various personal favors from one of the fixers. They were both freshmen, ineligible for their varsity teams, and could not have fixed games then even if they wanted to. The fixer had two motives. First, he was trying to soften up Hawkins and Brown for future fix attempts during their varsity seasons. Second, he was hoping that they would introduce him to players who might be interested in shaving points or dumping games.
If the ABL wants to allow Hawkins to play because he never fixed a game or because he has learned from his mistakes—or for any other reason—that is the ABL's business. But the ABL should not delude itself, or attempt to delude others, with the notion that Hawkins' name popped into the scandal stories quite by accident.
WARE HARE, SIR
It was a splendid day in the Midlands. The fox was in view, the hounds of the Albrighton Hunt were making their music, the field galloping close behind. Then, suddenly, the fox vanished in a puff of smoke—two puffs, to be exact, from the right and left barrels of a shotgun fired by a nearsighted gentleman named Mr. Samuel Thomas, of Manor-road, Tipton, Staffs.
Pack and field came to a yelping, thundering halt, to stare and sniff in horror at their late quarry, which Mr. Thomas had just blown to bits.
"Extraordinary," said A.H.B. Hart, joint master of the hunt.
He really said that. And then he seized Mr. Thomas' shotgun and threw it into a creek, as some of the field jostled Mr. Thomas, pulling their horses in on him and telling him a thing or two.
"I thought it was a hare," pleaded Mr. Thomas. "My eyes are not so good as they used to be."
The Albrighton Hunt, however, just leaned on Mr. Thomas a little more, and then abruptly rode away, leaving the poor man gunless, hareless—and by no means friendless.
For straightaway the League Against Cruel Sports in the Midlands, which sits up nights looking for new ways to embarrass people in pink coats who chase foxes, proclaimed that it may award Mr. Thomas a medal for a "courageous and humane act...in saving the fox from a more cruel death at the hands of the hunt."
But the modest marksman declined the honor on the grounds that he hadn't really meant to save the fox from anything. He was just trying to collect the basics of a rabbit stew. As for the Albrighton Hunt, Mr. Thomas made it quite clear that he cared not a fig for its almighty traditions. Furthermore, he would like his gun back—presumably in time for the next cry of tallyho!
THE BUTAZOLIDIN BAN
Florida joined 22 of the 25 Thoroughbred racing states last week in banning use of the pain-reliever Butazolidin for sore horses. Trainers were incensed, partly because the ban was at first issued without a public hearing. They went so far as to threaten a strike (though they did not like such direct action when some of them were subjected to it by their grooms and stable hands in New York). They got their hearing—and their ban.
Some of the trainers made peculiar statements. Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons got a rousing ovation from fellow trainers when he told the Florida State Racing Commission: "I favor the use of Butazolidin because it is up to the trainer to send his horse to the race in the best condition he can. I see no harm in using it."
We would like to give Mr. Fitzsimmons a counterovation. His own great horses, Nashua, Gallant Fox, Omaha and Johnstown, won magnificently without benefit of analgesics. A trainer can still bring a good horse into good condition without Butazolidin. As Dr. Elsie Bellows, chief chemist for the Florida commission, pointed out, Butazolidin enables sore horses to run despite their infirmity. Sick horses belong in bed.
Near Cochrane, Ont., 25 moose have been run down so far this year, but motorists are not entirely to blame. Several moose have been killed by railroad trains, as they stood motionless on the tracks, transfixed not by fear, but by love. According to a local naturalist, the moose's ear interprets the mournful moan of a diesel whistle as the soulful moan of another moose. And as the listening moose stands, happily awaiting his oncoming pleasure, he meets, instead, his onrushing fate.
Tragic. But is it? After all, if a moose has to go (and he must), he might as well go all at once, and in the happiest possible frame of mind.
THEY SAID IT
•A 61-year-old pensioner, outraged because University of Miami football games were not broadcast, said he had planned to leave his body to the university's medical school: "But if that's the way they do things, I'm going to leave it to Duke instead."
•Ray Eliot, former Illinois coach, telling why he changed his name from Ray Nusspickel: "Can you imagine hearing the fans trying to give three cheers and a locomotive for Nusspickel?"
•Ralph Houk, New York Yankee manager, on what teams he expects will give him trouble next season: "Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit—all the ones that have been tough will stay that way. And the second-division clubs seem to give us as much trouble as anyone else."
•An alert publicity man at Powder Hill, Conn. ski area, watching the season's first snow, wired Connecticut newspapers: "Please convey our apologies to Connecticut citizens for snowstorm. We have been testing our snow-making machine, and the darn thing went out of control."