Rx: PREVENTIVE MEDICINE
Big-time college football, sensitive to the impact of college basketball scandals on all college sport and mindful of last spring's revelation that some pro footballers had been gambling on games, exhaled in glad relief when Wally Butts won his enormous ($3,060,000) libel verdict against The Saturday Evening Post (see page 46). With announcement of the verdict there was an instant assumption by coaches and others involved in amateur sport that college football had been "vindicated." They issued statements to that effect.
Vindicated? College football itself was not charged with anything. Only Butts and Bear Bryant were directly accused. Even so, the coaches were quite right in feeling that their sport would have been grievously humiliated if Butts had lost his suit. The whole is never unaffected by what happens to one of its parts. Some of the mud would have splattered on the football jerseys of boys as far away as Oregon.
But if the coaches had good reason to feel uneasiness during the trial, they have no reason to feel utter relief now. Conditions remain as before. The sport is a multimillion-dollar business and a subject of absorbing interest to vast numbers of bookmakers and heavy gamblers. Money of this magnitude makes for greed, and greed often makes for crooked dealing. Yet the colleges have done precious little to protect themselves against scandal. Their recruiting practices have, in fact, stretched the moral principles of amateur sport beyond recognition. And it was shocking to learn that the major effort of the Southeastern Conference to investigate the Butts-Bryant allegations was to assign a man to attend the trial. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, governing body of college sport, is moving to investigate, but with its usual slowpoke pace.
September 1, 1963
The whole pattern of the sport cries out for preventive action. We would not suggest that the colleges undertake the extensive spying and prying that professional football and baseball feel is necessary to protect their investments. We would urge, though, that as a first step a stern and universal ethic be drawn up to guard against a whole range of scandal-raising possibilities immanent in a sport that professes amateurism while raking in the cash.
THE NONKULTURNI AMERICAN
For all their nationalism and Communist tendentiousness, the Russians are "marvelous sportsmen," reports Robert Daley in his readable new book. The Bizarre World of European Sports (William Morrow, $4.95).
"They play the game according to the rules," says Daley, who has covered European sports for The New York Times since 1956. "They win gracefully, they lose honorably. They obey officials. They rarely, if ever, whine."
A gentleman of sharply stated opinions, some sound and some dubious, Daley is correct in his evaluation of the Russian sportsman. Rather more on the anarchist side, we Americans also know how to win gracefully, but we sometimes choose to tell off an umpire. Our culture dictates that we tell the bum off when we know he is wrong. The source of Russian sportsmanship is the rigid discipline and conformity of the Soviet way of life.
A PLAGUE OF BEARS
Wilderness-wise Alaskans ordinarily regard the black bear as a fairly harmless beast, not nearly so dangerous as the brown and grizzly. But this summer residents of interior Alaska are changing their minds. Many are afraid to go hunting, boating or picnicking. Gold miners are afraid to mine. Homesteaders are afraid to clear their lands. City dwellers with country cabins are staying in their city apartments. Because:
At his mining camp last week William Strandberg was chewed to death by a black bear. Previously, a black bear had charged into the camp of three sleeping Fairbanks hunters and tried to drag one of them off in his sleeping bag. One of the hunters shot the bear, but not before he had mauled his victim. Two bear sows, one of them wounded, are at the moment on the prowl in Fairbanks (pop. 45,000). One of the sows, accompanied by two cubs, turned up in a backyard of the populated Hamilton Acres area. A resident shot and wounded her, but she got away, abandoning the cubs. Fearing that she might return for them, with children playing in the streets, fish and game officials shot the cubs. Plagued with bears, the Indian village of Tannanna has asked for help from the fish and game department. And as many as 20 bears a night visit the garbage dumps of the Eielson Air Force Base and the ballistic missile site in Clear.
Behind the rampage is a poor berry season and a shortage of fish, according to game wardens. The bears are hungry and, in this emergency, are willing to eat people.
Those tiny transistor radios that are heard in so many places nowadays—on the street, at ball parks, on beaches—probably fulfill some subconscious need in the shallows of the poor souls who use them publicly.
There may be sporting occasions when a transistor can be put to imaginative and constructive use—at a tedious cocktail party, for instance, one could sandwich a vital ball score or race result between a Tom Swifty and a tepid Martini—but generally we regard the instrument as an abomination.
The French attitude, we are glad to report, is Draconian. Signboards at all Paris racetracks announce that transistor radios are not permitted on the grounds, and the same ban applies to beaches and restaurants. When asked how he would explain this good taste, an official of the Société d'Encouragement pour l'Amélioration des Races de Chevaux en France replied: "It's simply to prevent untoward noise from interfering with the pleasure of the spectators."
THE BEST YEAR OF THEIR LIVES
When Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers and Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions were suspended last April for gambling—betting on their own teams, that is—there was some feeling that the judgment of Pete Rozelle, National Football League Commissioner, might have been a bit harsh. Well, dry your eyes. Paul Hornung won't ring up any touchdowns this season, but his cash register is jingling a merry tune. And Karras' machine is in perfect harmony.
Hornung recently formed a corporation with Bill King, Louisville promoter, and will stage three entertainments at Louisville's Convention Center. The first will feature Comedian Frank Fontaine, the second Sophie Tucker, the third Jimmy Durante. Hornung will be master of ceremonies of all three.
In addition, he will have a five-day five-minute CBS sports show over 22 midwestern radio stations, will do a radio play-by-play of 25 high school football games and will go on television for a 15-minute Sunday night show mostly dedicated to the results of pro football games.
"Hornung will make more money than he would playing pro football," says King.
As for Karras, he weeps from time to time in his Detroit bar—a $40,000 investment—and tells how dearly he would love to be back with his old teammates. They would like to have him, but they are shedding no tears over his financial plight. Once in a while, though it is pretty much off limits to the Detroit squad, a team brother will sneak into the saloon to cheer old Alex up—and discover that the place has become a most popular spa, even attracting tourists.
RENASCENCE AT KISBÉR
Imperial, a light bay 3-year-old Hungarian colt, unbeaten in 12 races, so far has won most of his money in forints (125,000) and Austrian schillings (195,000) for a total of $18,000. Now he is being steered toward the straight dollar. It is quite possible that Imperial will compete in the Washington, D.C. International at Laurel Park in November.
Before World War II Hungary was as renowned for its horses as for its women. But its Kisbér Stud, breeding center for the world-famous hussar horses of the old Austro-Hungarian army, was destroyed in World War II, and by 1945 hardly a decent Thoroughbred was left in the country.
A year after peace the government got the Kisbér Stud going again—founded on the few animals left and on imports from America and Britain. The finest result to date has been Imperial. He ran and won seven races as a 2-year-old, at Budapest, Vienna and Prague. As a 3-year-old he has run and won five times, at Budapest, Vienna and East Berlin. In Hungary he has never won by less than 10 lengths, and abroad the margin never has dropped below six. His best time over 2,400 meters—the distance, for instance, of Longchamp's classic Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe—is 2:29.4. An English horse, The Bastard, in 1929 set the world record—2:23—for the mile and a half, a comparable distance. Soviet horses that have competed at Laurel have been well beaten elsewhere by the Hungarian colt.
A very calm horse, a good traveler—by road, rail or plane—Imperial starts quickly, likes to keep in front and runs a fast, even pace. His first real Western test will be in the Grosse Preis at Baden-Baden, West Germany next week, the first time since the war that a Hungarian horse has made such a debut.
After Baden-Baden and the International Cup, Hungarian racing fans will be able to tell whether Imperial is as great as two phenomenal horses of other years—the magnificent mare Kincsem, unbeaten in 54 races, and Kisbér himself, who took the English Derby in 1876.
BRING YOUR OWN LANTERNS
A debate is raging in Artesia, New Mex. among members of the board of education over the question of spending $1,300 for additional lights at the high school football stadium. Against the proposition is Superintendent Vernon Mills. He points out that Artesia players are used to the dim lighting, and thus enjoy a home-team advantage over visiting players.
WILD ANIMALS TAME WILD KIDS
Over the past 16 years Glenn Cunningham, great miler of the early '30s, and his wife have cared for some 7,000 underprivileged and potentially delinquent children at his wild animal farm near Wichita, Kans. (These in addition to their own 12.) Cunningham established the farm because he believes that learning to get along with animals—35 varieties, from bison to deer—does more good for troubled kids than anything else. "Animals are honest and respond to love and care," he explains. "The kids we get learn to trust and understand the animals, and out of this relationship come better feelings for the youngster. He or she learns compassion for others.
"Speaking tours took care of the animal farm and the kids who came here to live," he went on. "Some stayed only a few weeks, others for months at a time. It was up to the kids. They stayed as long as they thought it necessary. When they felt O.K. again, they'd go back home. We never charged them anything, and they were always welcome."
But taking care of from two to 15 extra children at a time costs money. It appeared last week that the farm experiment was about to end. Cunningham announced that he had enough to take care of his family obligations but not enough to continue the 800-acre project.
No sooner was the announcement out than the prospects turned rosier. Civic groups in Wichita, Eldorado and Augusta have expressed interest in raising funds for the farm. "We can't say anything definitely right now," Cunningham cautioned, "but we have high hopes."
SO SKIP OPENING DAY
In preparing to introduce pay television to the San Francisco area, Subscription Television, Inc. has put together a tentative price list. Fans would be required to pay $3 to see the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants play. They would also pay an installation fee of $10 per set and a $l-a-month service charge. Toting this up, we observe without comment that the season's opening game will set the fan back $14.
THEY SAID IT
•Ernie Fazio, Houston infielder, explaining his switch from a 33-ounce bat to a 29-ounce one: "The 29-ounce bat is easier to carry back to the dugout."
•Egyptian Swimmer Abdel Latif Abu Heif, after winning a 60-mile swim from Chicago to St. Joseph, Mich. while eight natives of the United Arab Republic including his wife, sang him nationalistic songs from a nearby boat: "I wanted to get away from the music."