The International Olympic Committee selected Mexico City as the site of the 1968 Games after due consideration of the relevant facts, including the city's 7,800-foot altitude. That should have been that. But objections to the thin air of Mexico City are being made with increasing vigor.
Some of the objections have merit. It is agreed that extended training at high altitudes apparently will acclimatize athletes for the Games, but the point is made that some nations cannot afford such training. It is also argued that rich nations, whose teams will spend several months at high-level camps, will be making professionals of their amateurs. Against that is the fact that the fine line between amateur and pro has become so blurred (e.g., by the appearance of the state-trained athlete) that the old concept of amateurism is already all but dead.
In one of the current protests 26 noted British athletes, all Olympic medalists, turned to the London Times as a forum, urging the IOC to move Mexico City's endurance events to lower altitudes. And Roger Bannister, the first four-minute miler, asserted, "This decision to hold the Olympics at Mexico City is likely to result in a drastic and deplorable change in training methods. Opportunities to acclimatize will be left to the differing wealth of the countries and to the ingenuity, even ruthlessness, of their coaches."
These arguments are academic. The effect of Mexico City's altitude will not be known in certainty until the Games are held and the world sees who won what and why. Until then, we had best get on with getting ready.
It would have been difficult for Bill Russell to turn down the job as coach of the Celtics in the light of his past protests about an alleged quota for Negroes in pro basketball and his general militancy in behalf of equal opportunities for Negroes. And it is just as difficult to applaud the appointment at this time, despite the almost universal praise for this removal of one more repugnant barrier to the Negro's participation in sport.
The truth is that no man can demonstrate his full ability as either player or coach if required to do both at the same time. This is true of nearly all sports, and especially of basketball, where the action is continuous. Russell should have been invited to become coach when he was ready to quit playing.
ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING
Alabama's Phil Mulkey, who is a well-preserved 34, may yet become the Sarah Bernhardt of track and field. When he won the decathlon last year for the seventh time, he called it a farewell performance and vowed to retire from the Kansas Relays. "But you know how it is," Mulkey explained last week when the curtain went up in Lawrence. "With the arrival of spring, your bones feel like they're not so stiff."
So saying, Mulkey put on a superb show of running, jumping, putting the shot, throwing javelin and discus. Result: 7,110 points and his eighth title. It was his second highest total since he set a record 7,840 back in 1962. And Mulkey, who began at the Relays 12 years ago as a University of Wyoming man and who is now athletic director of the Birmingham University School, made a most fitting curtain speech. "When the trees leaf out and the flowers begin to blossom, there is a strong urge to compete again," he said. "And I have to confess it's a lot of fun."
TOO ROUGH FOR THE ROUGHEST
People do do something about the weather: they blame other people for it. People like poor Red Crise.
Red, or, more properly, Mr. Sherman Crise of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is the florid, outspoken entrepreneur of a number of enterprises from dog shows to auto races, all of which he characterizes as the best there is. For years Red has been calling his annual April Miami-to-Nassau powerboat event "the roughest ocean race in the world," which is just what powerboat racers want of a race. But April is often a benevolent time in the Gulf Stream, and the racers have sometimes headed out from Miami only to find a pathway of halcyon calm stretching forward all the way to Nassau. Whenever this has happened, the racers have blamed it on Red. Who else?
Last week they were all back in Miami once again, waiting to head out, and once again they were all mad at Red Crise. Why? For five whole days a big, stubborn, stationary weather system lay somewhere north of the Leeward Islands, whipping the Gulf Stream into seas too big to permit a 30-foot racing boat to venture over them. The "roughest ocean race in the world" had to be postponed because of roughness.
And whose fault was it? To hear the frustrated drivers grouse on the Miami waterfront, there was no quest on. It was that blankety-blank Red Crise.
HERE COMES THE COUGAR
When one considers that there are more than two dozen automobiles on the world market named after animals, fish and birds, one is not likely to become rattled by the persistent rumor from Detroit that yet another is on the way—from Mercury.
The Lincoln-Mercury Division, whose raciest name so far has been the Cyclone, naturally will not comment on the coming car. But there are clues. For example, the division recently ordered a stuffed cougar from a Denver taxidermist. At Dearborn one company spokesman airily explained that the cat was being used to redecorate the office of Marketing Manager Frank E. Zimmerman Jr. This is fine, but if Lincoln-Mercury is not bringing out a car called Cougar, then Zimmerman may have to explain his decorating tastes to top brass, since the reconstructed cougar cost $700.
Never mind speculation about looks, performance and lines of the new Cougar. The name does have certain dash and it suggests prowling power. Cougar is acceptable. But there will never be another car name as punchy as 1908's Seven Little Buffaloes (friction drive, air-cooled engine, solid tires). Now there would be a suitable decoration for an auto executive's office.
Major league baseball scouts who cover the college campuses are keeping their checkbooks folded these days. The Vietnam war has made the schools such a haven for men of draft age that offers of big bonuses to undergraduates are likely to go begging.
The college coaches, however, are grateful for the respite from baseball's raids on their talent. For the time being, at least, a good number of future major-leaguers will be more Sigma Chi than Three I.
THE CHOO CHOO CANADIENS
It was not the games, it was getting to the games that used to bother the Montreal Canadiens. Like some other athletes who claim air travel upsets their performance, the Canadiens have switched back to trains. And to hear them tell it, that is one reason they are in the Stanley Cup finals.
Most hockey teams fly 75% of the time. The Canadiens now make only seven flights a season, on return trips from Boston. And Goalie Gump Worsley has a pact with the front office that goes even further. He can go home from Boston any way he likes, which in practice means by bus. "I get a funny feeling off the ground," said Worsley. "I guess the only way to explain it is to say that I'm scared as hell."
Worsley's worst experience—and the thing that brought on the team's new policy—was a shaking-up that occurred when the Canadiens' plane hit turbulence over Lake Michigan. After that, the team returned to the practice of rattling to Chicago on the midnight special, a 19-hour trip that gets them to town just in time to suit up and play.
Most of us, however, would feel a lot safer flying than in Gump's goal with pucks coming at our teeth at 90 mph.
All that lighthearted banter that used to go on among rival players around the major league batting cages goes on no more, and we think it's silly that it doesn't. This winter the National League owners, in an attempt to make the game look more competitive, voted to enforce an old rule prohibiting fraternization among players on opposing teams. Already some 20 players on four different teams have been fined $25 apiece for talking too much—though in some cases what was said was little more than a casual hello.
Eleven of those punished were members of the Atlanta Braves, and Manager Bobby Bragan was so upset about it that he called the league office to protest. "They weren't fraternizing with anybody," says Bragan. "All they were doing was watching one of our pitchers warm up who happened to be near the New York batting cage." Bragan was told his players had better put their money in the mail now and protest later—and "keep moving" with the enemy around.
Outfielder Art Shamsky of Cincinnati and Met Pitcher Jack Fisher are appealing their fines. "Billy O'Dell [the Braves' pitcher and a former teammate] just wanted to introduce me to some Atlanta newspapermen," says Jack, "and I went over with him to shake hands. Now what's wrong with that? I thought we were supposed to encourage good relations for the ball club."
Bragan et al. have our sympathy. The gag treatment will not make baseball a jot more competitive than it is already.
KUDOS FOR SPARTANS
This is coach-of-the-year year at Michigan State. No fewer than three Spartan coaches have been so named and another was runner-up. Duffy Daugherty was voted the nation's top football coach after his team won the Big Ten championship. Amo Bessone was next with a national championship hockey team and George Szypula was named gymnastics coach of the year after his team finished second in the Big Ten and third in the NCAA meet. John Benington came close: he tied for second place in similar balloting after bringing the MSU basketball team from last to second in the Big Ten standings.
DIVING FOR LOUIS' LOUIS
King Louis XV of France, no tightwad, used to look up from reports on the cost of building the fort at Louisbourg in Nova Scotia and peer through the windows of the Palace of Versailles, wondering when he was going to be able to see the towers rising in the western sky. And the fort, intended to command the mouth of the St. Lawrence and to be the strongest in America, was, in fact, a colossal expense—probably the equivalent of $30 million, which was a lot in the 18th Century. However, not all of the money got to the fort. Stones, brandy, wine and other essentials sent there were sold to enterprising dealers in Boston. Not only did the builders sell material intended for the fort, they expected to be paid, as well. On August 26, 1725 a French vessel named Le Chameau, with gold louis and silver coins for the builders, went down with the loss of all hands within sight of the fort.
Last September three young scuba divers from the village of Louisbourg (the fort crumbled to ruins) began bringing up coins from Le Chameau. For 20 days they smuggled ashore the pay that had been destined for the grafters, and banked it. Now, because of a lawsuit brought by five other Nova Scotians (who claimed a prior right through a government permit to search for the treasure), present-day Canadians are beginning to learn how much Louisbourg cost. Recovered so far: $700,000.
THEY SAID IT
•Don Sutton, 21-year-old Dodger rookie, sheepishly explaining a dressing room phone call after pitching his first big-league victory: "Mother wanted to make sure I brush my teeth after every meal."
•Jim Wicks, manager of Henry Cooper, British heavyweight contender, on his boy's willingness to fight Cassius Clay for nothing: "I told him, 'How can I live off 25% of nothing?' "
•Wayne Walker, Detroit Lion linebacker who made a mere eight field goals in 22 attempts last season for the poorest record among NFL regulars, when asked how things have been going for him: "I can't kick."