A SMOLDER IN THE SOUTH
Football's Southeastern Conference is shaken by growing rumors of dishonorable collusion among high officials of the athletic staffs of rival colleges. The rumors bear on more than one game played in the Deep South last season. John Griffith, Georgia's young head football coach, has his suspicions and he's concerned. So is the University of Georgia's president, Dr. O. C. Aderhold. So is Governor Carl Sanders. So are other coaches, publishers, lawyers and as many inquisitive fans as there are with their ears to the ground around Athens, Atlanta and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Walter Byers, executive director of the NCAA, is loth to investigate, no doubt hoping there's no fire under all that smoke. But he'll be a sorry man if he learns there is enough latent flame to destroy the whole Southeastern Conference and leave the good reputation of college football in sadly charred condition.
DISASTER ON THE ICE
March 18, 1963
In its European tour preceding the world hockey championships at Stockholm, the American amateur hockey team won only three of 17 games; in its opening game at the championships the U.S. was thrashed, 11-3, by little Finland, a country that has no inside rinks and only four artificial ones outside. The Americans looked positively pathetic. The Finnish manager said the only weaker team he had played against was Estonia's. One Swedish newspaper regarded the team as a joke, and Stockholm's Aftonbladet called it a "schoolboy gang."
The tragedy of this situation is that it reflects on the players when, in fact, the blame should rest on irrational cerebration back home. America simply does not field its best players in the world championships. Many of the best players just can't afford to play. Although payments for out-of-pocket expenses are allowed without limit, the Amateur Hockey Association has a problem even meeting minimum expenses. It has to pay the way of its team in the tournament by sending it first on an exhibition tour and this, for a start, is unattractive to married players with jobs to hold down. But topping that, the players were given, for a period of five weeks, the grand total of $20 for pocket money, hardly enough to pay for stamps on mail home, and a sum that made them the laughingstock of other nations.
At breakfast in Stockholm's Grand Hotel one day, Walter Brown, a vice-president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, observed that the American problem is to build up "some type of postgraduate competition" that will continue the development of college players after school. The colleges themselves, he felt, are not developing enough good U.S. players "mainly because our college powerhouses in ice hockey are loaded with Canadians, to the detriment of our own boys."
And, of course, there is that matter of expenses. Unfortunately, it is only in an Olympic year that the Amateur Hockey Association collects anything like the money it needs, because then contributions can be deducted from income tax. While the New Frontier is fiddling around with tax reforms, it might consider the need for reform here. Or else designate U.S. amateur ice hockey a disaster area.
The obvious aptitude of Valeri Brumel, the Soviet high jumper, for the decathlon has been pointed out in these columns before. Now he is going to attempt it. He plans to enter the annual Moscow-Leningrad-Russia-Byelorussia-Ukraine meet this May.
According to his close friend, Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, a rundown of Brumel's best marks in decathlon events adds up to 8,414 points, only 269 short of Rafer Johnson's world record of 8,683. Although Brumel's best times and distances were not recorded under the demanding decathlon schedule—10 events in two days—at least they show remarkable promise. A little practice in some of his weak events, for example, would surely add hundreds of points to Brumel's total. His best 110-meter hurdles time, for instance, is 16.2 seconds, but experts believe that with two weeks' practice he could bring it down to 14.9 or better, adding 283 points to his total.
Brumel starts the decathlon with the enormous advantage of a virtually sure 1,500 points for a high jump of 7 feet ¼ inch, a height he has cleared more than a hundred times in competition.
The outlook: Brumel could hit 9,000 points or better in less than a year. Footnote: C. K. Yang of Formosa and UCLA hopes to make the magic 9,000 points first.
ROCK OF AGES
Somewhere between 12,000 and a million years ago, a massive tongue of Puget Glacier, advancing down into Washington State from Canada, gouged huge boulders out of the Fraser River bed and shoved them south as far as the foothills of Mount Rainier. When the glacier receded it dropped the boulders in a long string up and down the Puget Sound area. The most impressive, a haystack-sized rock, came to rest precariously on a South Bellingham hillside. In the past 100 years the 600-ton giant has become the subject of legend, has given sport to thousands and has provided from its summit a most exhilarating view. Now the State Department of Highways has put it down as an "obstruction" to the freeway it is pushing from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., and has marked it for destruction.
Well, that has been tried before. It has been tried by Irish miners, Swedish loggers and the WPA, none of whom ever made a dent in it or budged it an inch. So impervious has it been, turning aside steel drills like matchsticks, that the city fathers of Bellingham were forced to split Donovan Street around both its sides, with the rock in the center like the pit in a cherry.
Though generations of kids have found it ideal for playing king-of-the-mountain, the miners and loggers have had the most fun with it. Miners and loggers cannot exist in the same saloon without an argument, and the argument, 70 years ago, used to be whether miners or loggers would be the first to send the rock toppling down the hillside, unconcerned about the fate of farmhouses in the valley. So out they would troop from Mike Slattery's saloon and charge up the hill, the miners laden with picks and drills and blasting powder, the loggers toting axes with which to chop down trees to be used as levers, both taking the precaution to haul along a barrel of beer. The miners would ruin their drills and explode their charges harmlessly. The loggers would place a log against the upper side of the rock, lever a plank as pry across it and, with mighty, roaring heavehos, try 20-strong to jolt the rock from out of its bed. Eventually the beer would run out.
It may run out for the highway department, too, and we hope it does.
REPEAL OF THE UNWRITTEN LAW
Back in 1956, riled by the Supreme Court's school desegregation decision, Mississippi State University withdrew its basketball team from the Evansville, Ind. invitational basketball tournament. It became unwritten law that MSU would play in no tournament that included desegregated teams. It was a most unpopular law with players, students, sports fans and most Mississippi sports-writers, who clamored for its repeal. The clamor became uproarious last week. Students circulated petitions that the basketball team (21 victories, 5 defeats), Southeastern Conference champions, be sent to the NCAA basketball tournament at East Lansing, Mich., where its opponent would be Loyola of Chicago. The Loyola first string: four Negroes, one white player. M. M. Roberts, one state college board member, howled that such a game would be "the greatest challenge to our way of life since the Reconstruction."
But MSU President D. W. Colvard, after checking with his trustees, receiving a petition signed by 3,000 students and hearing from numerous alumni associations, announced that he would permit the trip "unless hindered by competent authority." Governor Ross Barnett stepped in with a declaration against the trip, but then he drew away from the controversy, saying it was a matter for the college board to decide. The board met, while students picketed with a sign: "Don't discriminate against whites. Let State play." The board voted, 8 to 3, to do just that.
It is not to be deduced from all this that integration is coming swiftly to Mississippi. Proponents of the trip were just more interested in seeing MSU share the glory of a national meet than in what they consider groundless fears that the team would be "contaminated." But at least it was a move in the right direction and—as so often in the past—a move in which sports took the first step.
Sport's latest fix has nothing to do with basketball or professional football. It has to do with hunting mountain lions.
Guide Dawson Riley escorted a hunter into the Fort McDowell area north of Mesa, Ariz. a while back. There, waiting for the hunter, was a full-grown lion. The hunter shot him and paid Riley $500, the customary fee for a kill.
Last week Riley admitted in court that he had planted the lion, which he had purchased for $250. He kept it, a bobcat and another lion caged in his backyard until the hunter turned up. Then he hauled it into the mountains and turned it loose. Returning with the hunter, he had his dogs pick up the trail and they soon treed the lion.
Does this happen often, someone asked Robert Beasley, enforcement officer of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
"What's unusual about it," said Beasley, "is that Riley was caught."
The world's first water-borne stadium may yet be built in Seattle, a city seething with plans to lure major league football and baseball franchises to its environs and still a little heady from the success of its World's Fair.
The idea, conceived by an architect, an engineer and a construction company, would float on the waters of Elliott Bay a stadium that would seat some 60,000 spectators for baseball and 70,000 for football.
For a town that has a floating bridge already, and another one abuilding, this is not too radical a notion. Allan McDonald, the architect, made it seem almost prosaic.
"We wanted something near downtown," he said, "and when you think of the acreage that is needed a floating stadium is the only answer. We have lots of water."
A roll-away dome top would shelter the crowds during the rainy spells that Seattle endures in late autumn. The stadium would rest on concrete pontoons that would utilize variable ballast to hold the structure absolutely level, even in a windstorm. A breakwater would shelter it from waves. There would be a marina for boats, so that fans could sail to the games, but even that is no special novelty in Seattle, many of whose residents sail to University of Washington football games.
Estimated cost: $15 million to $20 million, but a titillated Seattle wouldn't mind at all. "My gosh," one of the townsfolk said, "we could have the 10th wonder of the world out here."
A BATTERY MATE FOR YOGI
The Houston Colts' rookie pitcher, Jim Dickson, answers to the name of Diz, but not because of any resemblance to the matchless pitching artistry of Jerome Herman (or was it Jay Hanna?) Dean. It's because of incidents like this one:
In the .45s' training camp at Apache Junction, Ariz., Dickson complained that the hotel room he shared with John Bateman was stuffy. Bateman obliged by opening wide the floor-to-ceiling window and carefully closing the screen. But Dickson urged him to open the screen, too.
"But the fresh air can come through the screen," Bateman pointed out.
"Yeah, I know," Diz agreed, "but then it's all chopped up."
THEY SAID IT
•Darrell Royal, University of Texas football coach, when three freshmen quit the squad during spring training: "If they don't want to play football, I'd rather they quit now than in front of 75,000 people."
•Bob Uecker, Brave rookie, who has hit one home run and is rooming with Eddie Mathews: "Between me and my roommate we've hit 400 major league home runs."