HERE WE GO AGAIN
As the Russian national missile team was preparing to leave Cuba, the Russian national basketball team was invading the U.S. The basketball team has an excellent chance for the success of its mission. It may bury us. The eight-game tour of the U.S. begins next week. For the Russians this is an early tune-up for the 1964 Olympics; for us it is a last-minute tune-up for the basketball World Championship in Manila in December. (For political reasons, the Russians are not going to Manila.)
Once again, because of the inadequacy of AAU policy, the U.S. team is light-years away from our best. At the last World Championship, in Chile, the Russians humiliated a similarly chosen, similarly inferior U.S. team. The AAU is trying to conceal the quality of this year's team by calling it a collection of "1962 All-Americas." What the AAU means is "AAU All-Americas," which in turn means that 95% of U.S. players are ineligible, since the AAU controls only about 5% of the amateur basketball played in this country. There is not a genuine All-America on the team, and the AAU knows it. The team will be coached in Manila by a pleasant young man named Les Lane, whose qualifications are simply laughable in comparison with those of men like Pete Newell, Adolph Rupp or dozens of others. The AAU's ultimate ineptness is its inclusion of a player named Roger Brown on the U.S. squad. Brown accepted cash and favors from one of the basketball fixers soon to be triedin New York.
A MATTER OF OPINION
November 5, 1962
In the most tightly reasoned statement on the morality of prizefighting that we have read (see page 70), Father Richard McCormick, S.J., concludes that "unless the arguments leveled at professional boxing as it is today can be answered, I believe the sport would have to be labeled immoral." It is his own conclusion, wisely limited to "professional boxing as it is today." The Catholic Church has taken no official position. Any person, Catholic or not, is free to disagree with Father McCormick.
We disagree with him. Father McCormick bases his conclusion essentially on medical testimony, but medical testimony as to what happens inside the human skull when the head is struck by a gloved fist has so far been speculative and various. Even the mechanics of the knockout are not known with certainty, nor is there unanimity about the effect of repeated punches on the personality. The very existence of "the punch-drunk syndrome" has come to be suspect, since it has been noticed that boxers of recent years don't seem to display it. The old-time punch-drunk fighter certainly was a common sight around the gyms, and a pathetic one, but his symptoms were the same as those of tertiary syphilis, and since the arrival of penicillin the young punch-drunk pug is a rarity.
Sorry as prizefighting is these days, and despite some recent tragic accidents, we would hold that the sport is not so much immoral as improperly supervised. Many a fighter will tell you how much good, not evil, it did him.
For some time now this magazine has hoped that Wimbledon would liberate tournament tennis from the shackles of the past. Because of its enormous and continuing prestige in the world of tennis, Wimbledon has less reason than any other tournament to be chained by tradition and could, therefore, lead the way to open tennis.
Last week Wimbledon took a vital step, but it was a step into the past, not into the future. Shading their eyes from the bedizened backsides of Gussie Moran, Karol Fageros and Maria Bueno, whose below-the-belt attire in recent years has caused more talk than their tennis, the Wimbledon elders ruled that in future tournaments all panties must gleam in unadorned white.
Racehorses exported from New Zealand, just a few days from Australia by sea, are winning all the big Aussie races, and the local punters resent it. They are telling this anecdote: "New Zealanders are the best in the world at doping horses. Why, when one of their leading trainers was coming over with a team of horses on the M.S. Wanganella, he accidentally took a bottle out of his pocket with his handkerchief. It fell on deck and smashed. The Wanganella got in nine hours early."
THE RUSSIAN HOTFOOT
Impelled by the Pavlovian conviction that man is just a hunk of meat with habits and by their desire to excel in sport for propaganda purposes, the Soviets have taken out a patent on a device to get sprinters off the blocks a little quicker than the starting pistol does.
The device, the invention of I. D. Hakutny, is reminiscent of the illegal electric buzzer that jockeys have sometimes concealed under their saddles. The device is, in fact, just that, an electric buzzer activated by the noise of the starting pistol. The blocks are of metal, and the sprinter has metal contact points in the soles of his shoes. Firing the pistol short-circuits the current, and this, says the patent, gives "added stimulation at the start [and] strengthens the speed of the takeoff." The sprinter, in other words, is shocked into action. Hakutny's description urges further that his gadget is ideal for "deafened sportsmen."
Deafened, silenced and brainwashed.
THE BIG HUSTLE
The hustlers are back in town (Johnston City, Ill., population 3,900). From all over the country they have drifted in—old hands like New York Fats, Boston Shorty, Weenie Beanie from Baltimore, Tuscaloosa Squirrely and Daddy War-bucks. Not to mention that rising young hustler, Superstitious Aloysius.
The lure is the second annual World's Pocket Billiard Tournament, which began last week at the Cue Club, owned by George and Paulie Jansco, and ends November 18. At deadline there were 46 entries. "I invited Bo Belinsky; the baseball pitcher," George said. "He's a pool hustler, too. But Bo wired me he had a sore thumb."
Prize money is $10,000 but the hustlers couldn't care less about that. The action on the side, in which they bet against each other, will provide the important money. The action was slow at first. The hustlers' backers were late getting to town. Many hustlers don't like to bet their own money.
"This is ridiculous," said New York Fats, elder statesman of the cult. "Why, these moochers don't have a yard without their backers. One of those punks wanted to play me for 50 bucks a game. Imagine!"
"Don't fall for Fatty's corny con," Detroit Whitey cautioned. "He don't play a good pool player unless he gets 11 to 10."
"Listen, sonny boy," the fat man said, "I've already busted you and I'm going to bust every living soul in this tournament. I'm going to send them out of Johnston City on scooters. In fact, when it's all over, I may be in the used-car business. You moochers don't go for nothing without your backer. If it's your money, you won't bet fat meat is greasy."
That's how it began—New York Fats and his "corny con" against the field.
THAT THING IS A PUCK
Baltimore opened its $14 million Civic Center, two blocks square, last week with a hockey game in which the city's new team, the Clippers, beat Providence 5-4. Baltimore loved it.
Now if Chuck Thompson, TV announcer, will just learn to stop referring to "the ball game" and "the ballplayers" the Clippers may feel that they have a real home.
Germain G. Glidden of Norwalk, Conn., who won the U.S. squash racquets title three times and once (to their mutual surprise) beat Bobby Riggs at tennis, is founder and president of the National Art Museum of Sport, or NAMOS. A left-handed portrait painter as well as athlete, he has painted President Kennedy, Sir Winston Churchill and Robert Grant III, a 10-time winner of the national hard racquets championship. Glidden founded NAMOS to help Americans enjoy art more, with art's lure, being, commendably, sport.
NAMOS will have its first exhibit (Fine Art in Sports) at the IBM Gallery (16 East 57 Street, New York) from Nov. 13 to 30. On view will be not only such ancient works as a lithe bronze discus thrower from Italy and a Japanese ink drawing of two sumo wrestlers but Daniel Schwartz's oil of Big Daddy Lipscomb of the Pittsburgh Steelers, June Harrah's bronze of a galloping Kelso and a small statue of Jesse Owens by Sculptor Joseph Brown, a former boxer. Glidden is represented by an oil painting of himself playing squash. "The Harvard coach thought it was pretty good," Glidden said, "because it looked as if I was, ready for the next shot."
Other artists represented will include Rubens (The Bear Hunt), John Groth (Kayak Race), Robert Henri (Walker vs. Loughran) and Ben Shahn (Safe). There is one etching that golfers will especially want to study. Called The Golf Player, it is by none other than Rembrandt, and because of it some historians have erroneously concluded that golf was invented in Holland, not Scotland.
A QUESTION OF PRIVACY
A few weeks ago the Chicago Park District canceled the lease of the Burnham Park Yacht Club, one of seven yacht clubs in the Chicago area which operate on Park District property without paying rent, for refusing to admit two Negroes to membership. After cancellation of the lease the club reversed itself and the board voted unanimously to accept Theodore A. Jones, general manager of the Supreme Life Insurance Company, and Dr. William Walker, thereby all but insuring that the Park District will renew the lease the next time it meets. But that, alas, is not the happy ending to the story.
The Lake Michigan Yachting Association now is expected to take action against the Burnham Park Club. It cannot oust the club without a unanimous vote of the membership. It is assumed that the association will change its bylaws and then oust Burnham. Ouster would mean that Burnham Park members could not check into any club harbor belonging to LMYA, enter races on the lake or enjoy any other of the reciprocal privileges of the participating clubs.
"It would really be a simple matter for expulsion," said H. F. MacNeil, chairman of the LMYA membership committee. "Any recognized yacht club can become a member of our organization but it must be a voluntary association of persons. Why, this decision means that you can't even hold a Sunday school picnic without inviting people of other faiths. This violates the personal liberties of anyone who has a boat."
It doesn't, really. The clubs are not so private as they pretend. They get their fun from rent-free, tax-supported property, to whose support Chicago's 850,000 Negroes contribute.
FOGGY DAY IN FRISCO TOWN
The weather hasn't been exactly sporting in San Francisco this year. In January the Bing Crosby golf tournament was snowed out. The winds whistled as usual through Candlestick Park throughout the baseball season and in July the mean temperature (51°) was the lowest for the month in 41 years. The floods that delayed the World Series were October's worst in 51 years. Last week race fans at Golden Gate Fields were betting on races they could not see. Dense fog shrouded the track for the first five races and in four of these only the finish line was visible. The race caller had to wait for a telephone call from the starting gate to announce "They're off!"
None of this sounds like the sort of thing that would happen in San Francisco. Maybe it didn't; maybe it all happened in that other town that San Franciscans hate—the one called Frisco.
THEY SAID IT
•Ray Schoenke, SMU tackle, complaining after the Rice game about the hard ground in the Cotton Bowl: "I got blisters under the calluses on both feet. It didn't bother me during the game but it slowed me down at the dance."
•Clarence Campbell, National Hockey League president, on the recruiting of Junior A players by U.S. colleges: "I could name you over 100 boys playing in American colleges who received money from NHL-sponsored junior teams."
•Cassius Clay, heavyweight, reciting his latest poem: "When you come to the fight (with Archie Moore) don't block the aisle and don't block the door. You all may go home after round four. Put money on the round. If Cass tells you a chicken dips snuff, you look under its wing and you'll find the can."