Whatever the feelings in Washington about football, a leftist Argentine writer, Juan José Sebreli, has declared that he believes "it educates the masses for passivity, for nonaction and for non-participation in public life." Sebreli says—and he is talking principally of soccer—that such games are used as imperialist tools "to keep the people submerged in the primitive and elemental emotionalism which characterizes humanity's infantile stage." He points to the killing of Argentine-born Che Guevara in neighboring Bolivia a few days before a Buenos Aires soccer team won the world club title in Montevideo. Sebreli says, "When the news broke that Guevara had been shot no one here in his fatherland took to the streets or indeed lifted a finger. After the soccer victory in Montevideo thousands of fans appeared in the streets here to celebrate." And when the victorious soccer players arrived home the police, who were at the airport to impose some kind of control over the crowds, were roundly applauded by the fans. "It is incredible," Sebreli declares, "that a crowd made up mostly of workers, who must have been cudgeled by the cops at one time or other, will applaud them when they appear on the scene as fans. A mass culture has been molded by soccer and radio, and because of this I believe workers' uprisings no longer are possible.
"Mussolini, Hitler and even the senile Pétain were promoters of sports, and their example has been followed by most of today's world leaders. Monopolistic, capitalistic and fascist regimes use it as a means of psychological control of the masses by means of conditioned reflexes."
Dr. Barbara Moore, the 63-year-old British fitness fanatic who walked across the U.S. a few years ago, attempted to break the world's non-stop walking record of 155 miles a fortnight ago on a specially laid-out course in Colchester. She challenged four British army parachutists to match strides with her. Three of the men soon dropped out, but when Dr. Moore quit after 80 miles (she said a drink given her by a "well-wisher" was poisoned), the fourth man, Staff Sgt. Louis Gibson, marched on.
Dr. Moore appealed to the army to stop him. "Staff Sgt. Gibson is a very brave man, but it is cruel to let him continue," she told Gibson's superiors. "He must be in torture. The soldiers set too fast a pace at the beginning, and they were not conditioned for it. Staff Sgt. Gibson's feet are crippling him."
By this time Gibson had covered 125 miles. Interviewed in stride, he told reporters, "Nothing would induce me to give up at this stage. Dr. Moore is the worst sportswoman I have ever met. I would never walk with her again. She said I couldn't have endured the pain unless I was taking drugs. That's utter rot. My feet are killing me, but I'll keep going."
And he did, for 160.9 miles. The next day Gibson, hobbling on a stick, was given an award by the army. "You're in a bad way," the general making the presentation commented, "but it was a magnificent effort."
Said Dr. Moore: "I have protested to the army high command and asked for another walk to take place. I was given no medical treatment although I asked for it. All the army was concerned with was getting me out of the race. It was all very un-British."
PASS THE WORD
For years sportscasters in Texas have obtained the scores of high school football games through police radio dispatchers. The dispatcher contacts the patrol car on assignment at a corner near the game, gets the score and passes it on. The system came into being, Texas reporters say, because the state is probably the alltime leader in press boxes without telephones. And how else can word of the games get out? Policemen even have gotten into the habit of calling headquarters to check on the progress of their favorite teams.
But not long ago a Federal Communications Commission official, speaking at a three-day seminar for dispatchers in Fort Worth, declared the practice had to stop. "It is illegal to transmit baseball or football scores on law enforcement networks," he said.
Illegal it may be. But is the law enforceable? We wonder. Any good policeman needs to know the score.
His skiers are the best in the world, but French Olympic Coach Honoré Bonnet is still not satisfied. Last week Jean-Claude Killy and his teammates were practicing on the slopes at Courchevel with two-foot antennas on their backs and radio receivers stuffed in their speed suits so that Bonnet could give them an earful as they schussed down the mountainsides.
The purpose of the new radios is to enable Bonnet to correct technical and tactical errors while they are being made. "We accomplish in two or three days of training what used to take eight or 10 days," explains René Sulpice, a member of Bonnet's coaching staff. "Athletes often don't know what their bodies are doing at high speed. We've also found that the radios kill some of the lonely and fastidious character of ski training."
The receivers, which cost $400 apiece and are the size of two packs of cigarettes, operate at distances up to four miles. Bonnet is certain they will revolutionize ski-racing training methods. To make sure they do not revolutionize race results as well, he has asked the International Ski Federation to ban the radios from official competitions.
A SHOT ON GOAL
Registration in amateur hockey leagues in Canada and the U.S. is up 10% this year, and Fred Page, the president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, says the increase is due to the new Pro-Amateur Agreement made by the National Hockey League and the amateur organizations.
The provisions of the pact are simple: no hockey player can turn professional until his junior eligibility is up at the age of 20. This means that teams can no longer stockpile 14-and 15-year-olds away on farm clubs and make them professional athletes at an age when they should be playing for the fun and bruises of it. NHL teams can no longer sponsor amateur teams and their players—a form of shamateurism that enabled the rich clubs, like Montreal, to corner the hot-prospect market. Instead, the NHL will draft 72 amateurs a year and pay amateur hockey's governing bodies $3,000 apiece for them, thus putting money into amateur hockey on a broad basis to assist in the development of the game. Finally, the new players themselves will be drafted in pro football and basketball fashion, weakest teams drafting first, thus helping to balance the competition.
The plan, which has been agreed upon for five years, doubtless has some flaws, but it is more than a step in the right direction—it is a dozen steps. And as Fred Page put it, using an improbable metaphor, "the interest in amateur hockey is returning to the grass-roots level."
A letter to the Utah Fish and Game Commission began:
"We have just received your 1967 deer hunting proclamation and are very excited about it. We have hunted in nearly all of the western states and have been able to get trophies of most game—big game that is—in North America.
"Your deer hunting proclamation shows that you have divided the area into several hunting areas; most of them are apparently devoted to deer of either sex and some have buck-only divisions and some of your divisions are regular-license and antlerless-control permits. We notice, however, that you have opened sections 23C, 27C, 23D, 22A, 28C and 28D for Indian hunting. It does not say which sex. Neither does it advise us whether it's in control permits or general license permits.... P.S. Do you have any restrictions on the Indians hunting us? Please send us a copy of the hunting orders you sent them."
RAZING THE ROOF
The best ball game in Indianapolis these days is provided by Ed Zebrowski's demolition company. When he razes a building Zebrowski sets up bleachers on the sidewalk for wrecking fans, and supplies music. This week he will take down a three-story apartment house at the corner of North and Delaware streets in 24 hours. Mayor-elect Richard G. Lugar has been asked to throw out the first wrecking ball. Spectators will be given hard hats, and a Dixieland band in a 1921 Stutz fire truck will provide devastating music.
IN A STORM
The members of the Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference, an organization that is protesting the construction of a power plant in the Storm King river gorge, took a boat trip up the Hudson one recent Saturday to publicize their efforts. Con Edison, the company which wants to put up the complex, had sent along a note wishing them bad weather, and a cold raw drizzle did fall most of the time. However, 300-odd enthusiasts, most of them well-tanned, in elegantly unpretentious tweeds, were on board Miss Circle Line when she cast off from West 42nd Street.
Among them was Bobby Kennedy, who spent a lot of his time behind a planting of orange plastic daisies and who was introduced to the group as a "veteran canoeist on the turbulent Hudson waters." A Mr. George Lindsay was presented as "the birth-control man who has probably done more than any of us to preserve open spaces." There were numerous doctors, scientists and artists, as well as conservationists, and practically every one of them was a writer of one sort or another. They talked earnestly of conserving the river as a national treasure.
Kennedy disembarked at lunch when the boat was only halfway to Storm King, but everyone else crowded into a heated saloon where box lunches (including things like p√¢té de foie gras) prepared by Manhattan's fashionable Brasserie restaurant were dispensed.
On reaching Storm King at about 3:30 in the afternoon, the skipper tooted the ship's whistle and people rushed into the rain and wind to glimpse the massive stone hulk which juts into the river. At the base of Storm King figures in yellow slickers were seen waving and pointing to two red flags staked along the shore. They were power company men sent out to show the conservationists how small an area would be marred by the proposed project. They only had a wet Sunday to show for their efforts. The conservationists turned back to New York notably unconvinced.
TOSSED FOR A LOSS
Before the football season began, the state of Florida decided to add some luster to coin-tossing ceremonies preceding home games at Florida and Florida State. It had a special gold coin struck for the occasion, one decorated with a palm tree, a boat, an Indian and two optimistic mottoes: "Florida—Sports Capital of the World" and "In God We Trust." The coin may be beautiful, but it isn't lucky: in 10 flips, Florida and Florida State have lost nine times.
Florida has lost five out of five. Florida State actually won two of five, but in the FSU-South Carolina game the referee became confused and mistakenly awarded the toss to the opposition. The FSU captain merely shrugged in resignation and walked off.
When the two state universities met last weekend in Gainesville it was a toss-up as to what would happen. Well, Florida won the flip—but promptly lost the game. Maybe somebody can lose the coin.
THEY SAID IT
•O.J. Simpson, Trojan half back, discussing his success at USC: "While I was in junior college I thought for a while of going to Utah State. One of our assistant coaches reminded me of this the other day. He said, 'Just think, Orange Juice, today you might have been the biggest man in Logan, Utah.' "
•Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, criticizing government agencies for their disregard of scenic beauty: "We pay farmers not to raise crops. Why don't we pay the Corps of Engineers not to build dams? That's a real American attitude toward a problem."