ONE LAW FOR ALL
Sports bills introduced in Congress are many. Sports bills passed by Congress are rare. This week Senator Philip A. Hart, Michigan Democrat who has taken over leadership of the Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly held for years by the late Senator Estes Kefauver, put up a sorely needed bill.
The bill would put all professional sports under federal antitrust laws but would make exceptions to bring football, basketball and hockey into the same legal league as baseball. The law would not apply to agreements and rules pertaining to the equalization of competitive player strengths; the employment, selection or eligibility of players; the reservation, selection or assignment of player contracts; or the right to operate in specific geographic areas.
Baseball has enjoyed freedom from antitrust regulation since a 1922 Supreme Court decision, but other professional sports have operated not so much outside the law as beside it. Hart wants to give to the other sports what baseball has had for decades—a clear conscience.
Hart's background in sport is extensive. He has been a director of the Detroit Lions and a vice-president of the Detroit Tigers. Let us hope he hits a home run with this one.
Last New Year's Rose Bowl game between Southern California and Wisconsin was seen by an estimated 53,338,000 persons—the most, according to the National Broadcasting Company, ever to witness a sports event up to that time. The game was clearly a television production. It was amusing, at first, when Referee Jimmy Cain orated to the captains about keeping the game clean—"Don't forget you're on television"—but it became annoying as "official time-outs" were ordered by TV's "man in the red shirt," standing on the sidelines to see to it that the sponsor was allowed plenty of commercials. It did seem that, in a game with 11 touchdowns and 18 genuine time-outs, there were plenty of opportunities for commercials. As it was, the game ran three hours and 10 minutes (in part because of TV time-outs but also because Ron VanderKelen's passes drove USC dizzy in the last quarter). NBC was forced to preempt time from a following program.
This year, praise be, there will be no such nonsense. Referee and players will have sole authority to call time-outs.
EXERCISE IN FUTILITY
It was a high school basketball opening game and only the players and coaches minded that play was ragged and shooting far from midseason form. After all, at half time the two Oregon schools, Redmond and Madras, gave every sign of presenting a close battle. The score at the half: Redmond 22, Madras 20.
No Redmond player ever will forget the second half. The boys drove for lay-ups—and missed. They shot from the key—and missed. They tried long ones—no go, either. Fourteen times Redmond players stepped to the free-throw line. Fourteen misses.
Final score: Madras 48, Redmond 22.
Ultimate frustration came after the final buzzer. Just as the game ended, Redmond's Kerry Parkinson was fouled. All alone, he stepped to the free-throw line and, since the game was over and there was no possible rebound, he calmly sank the shot for Redmond's only second-half point. Then he stepped over the foul line to nullify it.
While New York's controversy over legalizing off-track betting gets no nearer solution, one legislator in search of tax cash, Assemblyman Louis DeSalvio, has come up with a weird suggestion. Every August when New York racing moves to beautiful but isolated Saratoga, the beautiful dollars going into the state treasury dwindle. Attendance at the charming rural track can never approach that at citified Aqueduct, which has been described as a sandy supermarket.
DeSalvio suggests that city bettors in search of action during the Saratoga season should sit at Aqueduct and bet on races at Saratoga. They would be provided with closed-circuit views of Saratoga races on large television screens. Their money would register merrily on the tote boards both at Saratoga, where it would affect the odds, and at Aqueduct, where the bettors could watch the action without interference by a whinny or any other manifestation of a live horse or sweating jockey.
DeSalvio estimates that the state treasury would get another $2.5 million a year from this long-distance play. Possibly, but the DeSalvio plan would move racing one step closer to being a mere adjunct of the tax department instead of a live sport.
THE PHILHARMONIC PHILOSOPHER
The boredom of modern collegians with the sugary, lump-in-the-throat alma mater song has distressed many an old grad who remembers the days of the banjo quintet strummin' and hummin' by the light of the silvery moon. Let the old grad brace himself. The worst is here. In Seattle, gone mad with intimations of Rose Bowl grandeur, the big college song is a new rock 'n' roll twister dedicated to the Washington-Illinois game. It is driving the city wild. It is played every half hour on one radio station. It is being stamped out in thousands by a Los Angeles record manufacturer.
Seattle cannot be quarantined, so the rest of the country will be exposed to the contagion on New Year's Day, by which time it will have spread to Pasadena. The song, so to speak, is called Charlie Browning and is named for the University of Washington's fullback. Its lyrics are filled with such subtle phrasing as "Douglas throws a pass/He's all fired up/And waiting in the end zone/Is Sticky-Fingers Kupp."
The anthem was written and recorded by a university quartet whose members include a philosophy graduate student. So much for modern philosophy.
BOXING TABLE D'HOTE
The Mansion House, one of 36 buildings that go to make up Maine's Poland Spring Hotel complex, was completed in 1797, Wentworth Ricker, prop. The area, source of Poland Spring bottled water, soon developed into one of the country's great watering spots. About a hundred years after the hotel was founded the first golf course belonging to a resort hotel, a six-holer, was completed there. But changes in customs and habits brought hard times. After the bad days of the 1930s, the hotel went into receivership and reorganization.
Now sports may be the salvation of Poland Spring. In 1962 Saul Feldman bought the huge place and put up a new 86-room building. He installed an Olympic swimming pool and is working on a ski area to open next year.
Last week, the old hotel saw its greatest sports innovation. Boxing bouts were staged in the dining room for the benefit of the hotel's Caddie Camp Alumni Association. Boxers from the Lewiston Police Athletic League, Topsham Air Force Base and the Brunswick Naval Air Station were the contestants. For $7.50 spectators got ringside seats at white-clothed tables, a choice of entrees (prime ribs of beef au jus, broiled half spring chicken or charcoal-broiled swordfish) and six three-round bouts. There were $2 seats for noneaters. The card was better than most of the professional shows seen in Maine in the past three years.
Bill Faversham, one of Cassius Clay's many owners, has a reservation at Poland Spring for next summer. Maybe he will bring Cassius to take the waters. After meeting Sonny Liston he just might need them.
SEEDS OF DISCONTENT (CONT.)
Cries of fervent protest came last week from Europe's leading sports publication, L'Equipe, which decried SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S charge of prejudice (International Ski Scandal, Dec. 16) against a French official who rated the most promising U.S. Olympic Alpine team as a bunch of losers. Seeded far below their correct ratings, the Americans were thereby given the disadvantage of skiing over thoroughly chopped-up courses. L'Equipe defended the official, Robert Faure, arguing that he had merely respected an established system founded on results of the classic tests.
"The fact remains," said L'Equipe, "that the system...is to the disadvantage of American skiers when they do not participate in the large classic European ski meets." It inquired if, perhaps, American directors had not been shortsighted in failing to send their best skiers to Europe last year.
A rather odd question, considering that the FIS president, Marc Hodler, had said that U.S. and European races would be compared fairly—and had added recently, before the unfortunate seedings, that "the Americans were right in thinking that there would be no disadvantage in not coming to Europe."
Now comes the proof of the pudding. At the season's first major international meet in Val-d'Is√®re, the Americans were given the benefit of better starting positions because the top-seeded Austrians and Germans were not competing. With this fair chance, Buddy Werner won the slalom and the combined title, and Jimmy Heuga finished fourth in the giant slalom and sixth in the slalom. It is clear that M. Faure should not have seeded 20 skiers ahead of Werner in the Olympic slalom and that Heuga's seedings of 40th in the slalom and 32nd in the giant slalom are equally ridiculous.
As of old, boxing is involved in another intramural feud. Madison Square Garden, long possessor of boxing's sole TV contract, seems to be putting the squeeze on a recently formed rival. A fortnight ago, a New Jersey group, the Garden State Sports Corporation, promoted the Joey Giardello-Dick Tiger middleweight championship match in Atlantic City. Garden State put on the best promotion since the days of Mike Jacobs and also wound up with the middleweight champion, Joey Giardello.
Although the corporation is new to boxing, its officers are not. Promoter Murray Goodman and Matchmaker Jack Barrett are themselves old Madison Square Garden hands, and Joe Louis is serving as consultant. The Garden, according to Goodman, "did everything, and more, to sink our Giardello-Tiger fight. They ran an underground railway to Madison Avenue to spread rumors that the fight would never take place, and scared off at least three all-but-signed TV sponsors."
"Our problem," says Louis, "is to keep from getting crushed. I had a letter from Bobo Olson agreeing to terms and the next thing I know the Garden has promised Bobo a TV shot, twice the money they've been paying other guys like him. They even whispered he might get a title match if he didn't fight for us. This has happened other times. We don't get the fighter—and, mostly, the fighter really gets nothing but promises."
Now the new promoters are going to bump heads with Madison Square Garden in its own backyard. They have received a license to promote fights in New York's Coliseum—just 10 blocks north of the Garden.
"We can't live with the Garden," said one manager last week, "and maybe we can't live without them. But with these guys offering the Garden competition there will be some fun in dying."
END OF ERA
Harness racing has finally put an end to time trial records, a move long recommended here. It had been the only competitive sport to sanction noncompetitive marks, and it did so because breeders could enhance the value of their stock by setting up ideal conditions under which horses could achieve good clockings. Naturally, the horse breeders on the board of directors of the U.S. Trotting Association wanted to retain time trials at the board's meeting last weekend, but they were defeated. The public will no longer be confused about a trotter's true racing ability.
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Pellington, Baltimore Colt middle linebacker, after he had been thrown out of a game for kicking a Minnesota Viking: "Just say I lost my poise."
•Roger M. Blough, chairman of U.S. Steel, accepting the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame's gold medal, on his alma mater, Susquehanna University: "In the three years I played we won six, lost 17 and tied two. Some statistician with a great capacity for charity has calculated that we won 75% of the games we didn't lose."