POLITICS MAKES STRANGE SPORT
That embarrassment in the name of sport now going forward at Jakarta—the Games of the New Emerging Forces—was conceived in politics and has thereby given birth to travesty. It has also confirmed the wisdom of the Olympic fathers in divorcing, so far as it is possible, international politics from international sport. The games are even politically absurd. Some of the participants can scarcely be regarded as among the "new emerging forces" in the world. The Netherlands, for instance.
The Japanese, as hosts to the 1964 Olympics and the first Asian nation ever awarded the Olympic Games, were confronted with an invitation they did not want. With fine impartiality, the Indonesians put pressure on Japanese Communists and businessmen alike. They petitioned for aid from such Japanese friends as Tatsukuni Toyama, grandson of Mitsuru Toyama, the Black Dragon leader of prewar Japan's super-nationalists. Toyama and chums rounded up 73 athletes—all of them, except for a couple of table tennis players, third rate.
This unofficial representation gave the Japanese a nice out, but the Soviet Union had a somewhat different problem. Sending inferior, non-Olympic athletes was all very well for the Japanese, who could not care less about the outcome of the Jakarta games. But the Russians would be up against those miserable Chinese Communists, who withdrew from the Olympics and have since been snubbed by most international sports federations. Could the Russians, who had spent $12.5 million on the Jakarta stadium, afford to accept a beating from the Chinese, who would make propaganda capital of it? Well, the Soviets apparently decided to take their lumps. They sent some nondescript performers and are laying back, waiting to recoup at Tokyo.
November 25, 1963
THE HACKER HOOKED
A few months ago Joe DiMaggio bought a 45-foot sport fishing boat. The idea was that he would spend his leisure hours pursuing big gamefish. He has not. Since buying the boat Joe has discovered golf. Now he is appearing in amateur tournaments all over California and Nevada, conquering the shyness that hitherto has kept him often teeing off at 6 a.m., when none but sleepy birds are about.
His score, like President Eisenhower's used to be, is a secret. But you might guess at it from this ecstatic declaration after one round at San Francisco's tough Presidio course. "Best round of my life. Could have been an 85 if I hadn't missed those.... "
THE MECHANIZED MARTINI
The bane of bartenders is the serious Martini drinker, with all his talk of "extra, extra dry and I mean really dry, fella." He was like that even before Prohibition, but in reverse. In those days vermouth seemed an exotic beverage and was more expensive than gin. So, naturally, the Martini man would demand plenty of vermouth in his cocktail.
Now the dryster has been supplied with a truly alarming weapon. It is called a Gourmet Martini Tester. With it, according to the Thexton Manufacturing Company of Minneapolis, one may easily determine the quality, or at least the dryness, of a Martini. The Tester is an eyedropper with three balls the size of a BB shot in it. Dip the dropper into your Martini and fill it. If two of the balls float, but one sinks, it is a regular Martini. If one floats and two sink, it is a dry Martini. If all three sink it is extra dry.
The eyedropper fits into an unbreakable tubular case equipped with a fountain-pen clip to hold it firmly in the jacket breast pocket. At $1.95, it might make a nice stocking gift, but the man who uses it will not endear himself to his bartender. It certainly takes something out of the sporting aspects of ordering a Martini at a strange bar.
THE WORKMANLIKE ATHLETE
The tragic plane crash that killed most of the California State Polytechnic College football team in a Toledo fog three years ago continues to have repercussions. Despite the $175,000 proceeds of a special post-season "Mercy Bowl" benefit game attended by 33,145 sympathizers, families and surviving Cal Poly players have pressed no fewer than 19 claims in court. Contending that the players were employees of Cal Poly, they sought payment from the state workmen's compensation fund. The first of those cases was decided by a California District Court of Appeals in favor of the widow of Gary Van Horn. The California Supreme Court then refused to review the decision. Largely on the basis of hearsay testimony by Van Horn's father—that Van Horn had once said he had been "offered a pretty good deal" to play football at Cal Poly—the court ruled that Van Horn had indeed been an employee of the school, not just a student playing amateur football.
As a consequence, Cal Poly—and every other school offering scholarships in states where similar compensation laws exist—may be obliged to make employer contributions to workmen's funds. A. A. Hillberg, superintendent of claims for the California workmen's fund, and Norman Epstein, a counsel for the state college system, agree that this is possible. Says Hillberg, "If it were established that a scholarship, whether for athletics or for the band, created an employer-employee relationship, we would have to collect a premium."
Perhaps of more concern to colleges than such expenditures is the decision's implication for the amateur status of collegiate athletics. By declaring an athlete an employee of a school, the court has in effect declared him a hired professional. "I do not believe any student-athlete is an employee if NCAA rules are followed," says NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers, leaving the matter still moot.
NOTHING IN THIS NAME
The basketball coach thought he had a natural when an Indian lad of likely build turned up at the Nebraska Boys' Training School at Kearney. The boy's name: John Never Miss A Shot. Alas, John rejected an invitation to try out for the basketball team. "I prefer baseball," he said, folding his arms.
ANOTHER WASHINGTON SCANDAL
A football coach who teaches faith along with the fake and mixes hallelujah with the handoff, Hal Mitchell of Brigham Young University has been known to move a student pep rally to tears while telling about the power of prayer. Moreover, a deeply religious man, he believes that his players should practice what he preaches.
But boys will be boys. Coach Mitchell recently took his team to sinful Washington, D.C. to play George Washington University (which won, 23-6). Last week he fired 12 men from his squad "for training infractions and inappropriate conduct off the field."
It took courage for Mitchell to do this, for several were top performers and, in effect, the action was tantamount to stripping the school of its team and certainly of any hope of victory in remaining games. The players will remain on scholarship but cannot report even for practice until spring.
As for the infractions, the talk around Provo was that the players went out for a beer. If that was all, the penalty seems somewhat severe, but Coach Mitchell has lost no stature by it. Brigham Young himself first taught the Mormons the uses of adversity.
STRAW FOR A CAMEL
The Kansas City sports fan, though disenchanted, is unusually tolerant. In baseball he has watched patiently as the Athletics have wallowed in the lower sloughs of the American League since they came to Kansas City in 1955. But he expected better in pro football when the Texans of Dallas, winners of the 1962 AFL championship, became the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were champs, and the Kansas City fan could hardly wait to see them. After the Chiefs went to Denver and beat the Broncos 59-7 in their season's opener, the principal worry was that Chief games might be dulled by one-sidedness.
Since then the Chiefs have won just one game.
"This," said an at last disgruntled rooter, "is a loser's town. If Sonny Liston moved to Kansas City, he couldn't whip Truman Capote."
CASH AND CARRY
J. Walter Kennedy, the new no-nonsense president of the National Basketball Association, had hardly been in office a month when he levied the largest individual fine since the NBA became a major league, $500, against Coach Red Auerbach of the champion Boston Celtics (SI, Oct. 28). Last week he hit the Baltimore club with a $5,000 assessment for having arranged to move its franchise from Chicago last year without first getting proper league approval.
Sometimes highly publicized fines go uncollected, but not when Kennedy makes the judgment. As soon as the fine was levied he turned to the Baltimore contingent and noted his stipulation that payment was to be made "immediately." "I interpret 'immediately' to mean "right now,' " he said. The attorney for Baltimore blushed and said he did not have a club check. Kennedy was unmoved. The attorney took out his personal checkbook and the matter was settled—immediately.
RHYTHM: TRANSOCEAN AND LAND
Anyone who has jetted to Europe knows the unsettling effect on bodily rhythms of the sudden change from EST to GMT. One gets hungry and sleepy at inconvenient hours. Now it appears from experiments conducted by Stan Huntsman, cross-country coach at Ohio University, that the bodily rhythms of athletes are affected in somewhat the same way by the time of day they practice for their contests. It would seem that athletes would do well to practice afternoons for afternoon events and mornings for morning events during the season.
Classes usually make this impossible, as far as morning meets are concerned. So Huntsman has found an unorthodox solution for that problem. Instead of resting his men before a morning meet, he gets them up at daybreak and runs them. At 7 a.m. last Friday seven of Huntsman's cross-country runners shrugged into practice clothes for a three-mile jog through fog-shrouded Jackson Park in Chicago. At 11 a.m. they would be competing in the Central Collegiate Cross Country Championships. All season they have been running thus on the mornings of meets.
After the run the team had a breakfast of Nutrament, vitamin C tablets and dextrose tablets, then a shower and team meeting until it was time to go to the University of Chicago field house. Final preparation: a Washington Park jog that brought to five or six miles their pre-meet exercising.
Twenty minutes after the meet began Ohio University had turned in the best cross-country performances in its history. Five Ohio runners finished under 19:51, good enough to give the team third place, behind Kansas and Notre Dame. "If you'd told me earlier in the season that we'd have five runners under 20 minutes in one meet," said a happy Huntsman, "I'd have thought we'd won the national championship."
One of Spain's leading matadors, Juan Garcia, known as "Mondeno," is now in Mexico for the last three fights of his career, though he is only 29. Mondeno has cut 30 ears in 45 fights this season. But next January he will return to Spain to take up the life of a religious. He will enter the Dominican order.
"I can't stand bulls," says Mondeno. "The only real vocation I have ever felt is toward the religious life. It wasn't a suit of lights I wanted to don but a cassock."
A Spanish critic of the bullring notes that there is nothing surprising in a matador taking orders. "There is plenty of precedent," he wrote. "The matador, as the monk, lives always with the moment of death present."
PREP FOR 1968
U.S. preparations for the Olympic Games in past years has, in the main, been good—if one may judge by the results. But there is always room for improvement. Now a new Olympics development program is being planned to start in 1965. The program proposes that in each non-Olympic year a "U.S. Olympics" be held in canoeing, field hockey, rowing, soccer, swimming, track and field, water polo, yachting and possibly in the pentathlon, riflery and equestrian games. Men and women athletes would participate.
Such a program would seem likely to provide better preparation for U.S. athletes, and put selection of Olympic competitors on a more informed basis. More than that, it might lead to a truly exciting schedule of sports competition.
THEY SAID IT
•Ben Schwartzwalder, Syracuse coach, after watching the New York Giants' Y. A. Tittle on television: "I'd buy him a toupee and let him play at Syracuse if I thought I could slip him in."
•Alf Price, manager of the British Olympic swimming team, on love: "Romance is the reason so many fine swimmers retire around 17. It's a pity. A swimmer's potential is only beginning at 17. But how can you stop the kids from falling in love?"