The new outburst by Harry Edwards, the assistant professor of sociology at San Jose State who is leading the movement for a proposed Negro boycott of the 1968 Olympic Games, succeeded in its objective of making headlines last week. Whatever the merits of his widely varied charges of discrimination, it is deplorable that sport should become a political battleground in this way.
The latest of Mr. Edwards' demands is the resignation of International Olympic Committee Chairman Avery Brundage, whom the professor sees as "a devout anti-Semitic and anti-Negro personality." Brundage has been sniped at from a variety of platforms for 35 years; Edwards may be a tough baby, but he has hooked into another.
SUBMERGED IN HISTORY
French Minister of Culture André Malraux has proposed, in the interest of art, that members of the Paris City Council don wet suits, strap scuba tanks on their backs and plunge into the Seine River.
Malraux wants the city fathers to go skin diving for the stone figures of the "kings of Judah" which once adorned the facade of Notre Dame Cathedral. The statues, which really were not kings of Judah at all but likenesses of the kings of France, were beheaded and dumped into the river by revolutionaries in 1789.
"We know where the statues were thrown in," Malraux told the French National Assembly. Seine River authorities, however, have reason to question Malraux's contention. They sent a skin-diving party down in 1950 and found nothing resembling medieval statues.
There probably has never been a sports franchise that received a bigger or more profitable reception than the New Orleans Saints, the new entry in the National Football League. The club finished its home season with an average attendance of 75,463, which made it the second biggest attraction in the league. New Orleans rooters have been explosively noisy to the dismay of referees and visiting players—the game against Dallas was delayed 10 minutes, as Al Hirt, one of the team's owners, trumpeted up those sweet sounds of enthusiasm and officials called for quiet.
Another statistic of local exuberance is that Saints fans have bought 75,000 pennants, which is twice the number sold in any other NFL stadium this year. The Humble Oil company, which gives away Saints emblems, has had more than 30,000 requests for them.
To house its wunderkind, the city has just announced it will build a $46.4 million domed stadium that will seat 80,000 football fans (Houston's Astrodome cost $31.6 million and accommodates only 52,000). Meanwhile, the club's present landlord, Tulane University, is reaping big-league profits from the rent of the Sugar Bowl and the concessions. Its gross from the Saints home games was more than $425,000. Who says pro football hurts colleges?
A LOT OF GAS
The Committee for the Winter Olympics issued a comprehensive six-page bulletin on the Olympic flame, explaining how it would be "lit by mirrors from the sun of Olympia" and then transported from Greece to Grenoble via an Air France Boeing 707. A particularly detailed passage of the release deals with special equipment—some of it designed just for the occasion—to preserve the flame. It will be transferred to a miners' lamp for the airplane trip from Athens and, we are told, "the Flame will burn in identical lamps in the vehicles of the escorting convoy in case the main torch should go out. Wax tapers will be used to transfer the Flame from the miners' lamps to torches.... From one relay to another, the Flame will be carried by means of metal torches working on propane gas.... These torches weigh about 1 kilogramme 750 if one counts the gas refill which weighs about 250 grammes.... Urns will be used as receptacles for the Flame at each halting-place. They will also be kept alight by means of 8 thirteen kilogramme bottles of propane gas.... The urn in the Opening Stadium...will be placed at the top of a tower 25 metres high. The Flame will be 2 metres 50 high. It will be necessary to install reservoirs with a capacity of from 1 T. 750 to 3 T. 500 to feed the urns in Grenoble and in the Dauphiné resorts. The total anticipated consumption is 35 T. of propane."
Word came from Olympia last week that the torch had been lit, but not by the sun. The ceremony was held indoors, and we suppose they used a match.
(NORTH) POLE POSITION
For the benefit of those not on his Christmas mailing list, this is to report that Andy Granatelli's yuletide card shows his controversial turbine racing car, festooned, naturally, with STP decals and being driven by, naturally, old Santa. But was that enough for Indy impresario Andy? Not nearly. The message says, "Best whooshes for the holidays."
THE MAKING OF A CHAMPION?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has been quietly assessing the possibility of holding a series of postseason playoffs to determine a national collegiate football champion. The matter will be discussed in detail during the NCAA convention in New York next month and, although a number of technicalities would preclude playoffs before the 1969 season, support for a championship tournament is gathering. In the past college presidents have tended to oppose any such playoff for a variety of scholastic and policy reasons, but many of their objections may be answerable—and the huge television fees might be hard to turn down.
The plan being discussed at present would call for the champions of five major conferences—the Big Ten, Big Eight, Southeastern, Southwest and AAWU—and three at-large teams to compete for the title. Four games would be played on the first Saturday in December. The semifinals would be held on the third Saturday in December, and the final on New Year's Day. The championship game would be moved around the country, perhaps being played first in the Rose Bowl, then the Orange Bowl, etc. Ideally, from the NCAA standpoint, the early games might replace some of the lesser bowl games. Nothing, however, would prevent there being bowl games on New Year's Day, nor is there any suggestion that the NCAA would be against bowl games in competition with its championship game, just as any bowl game has competition on New Year's Day now.
Already there are rumblings from some Midwest faculty advisers opposing any playoff system, but this idea deserves much more thought than any such peremptory objections indicate. The NCAA is to be commended for studying the matter. There are NCAA championships in almost all other sports. Difficult as the problem is, it is time to see if there is not some way football could have a champion, too.
THE HEIGHT OF LUXURY
Some seasons it doesn't even pay to suit up, or so it must have seemed to the defending-champion Chicago Black Hawks when they were wobbling in fifth place recently. They couldn't even get their publicity gimmicks to work. Last summer Owner Bill Wirtz got a bright-red idea. He decided to import two 1946 London buses, at a cost of $7,000, to shuttle hockey fans to the stadium from the Bismarck Hotel, which he also owns and where he dishes up pregame dinners. The buses were delivered to a Chicago dock and transferred to a nearby garage for refurbishing and a scarlet paint job, which cost an additional $5,000. But when they were ready for service it was discovered that they were too high (14'7") to fit underneath the 14' viaducts leading into downtown Chicago. The Hawks' publicity man, Don Murphy, was sent out with a long pole to measure all possible routes into the city, and he finally found ore the buses could use—via Gary, Ind. The buses are now operating and are a success. Well, almost. As Wirtz says, "We never took into consideration the fact that the exits are on the left side. We have to discharge our fans into the middle of the Warren Avenue traffic."
To cope with Mexico City's high altitude, Olympic teams will bring along numerous doctors, but Britain's yachtsmen—who will, of course, compete at sea level—have requested a physician all their own. They say they have a recurring problem—seasickness.
The Arizona Athletic Commission has decided to announce point scores at fights after each round "to circumvent collusion among judges who always seem to come out almost even." And to give officials enough time to collect and announce the verdict, the traditional minute-long time-out between rounds has been extended to a minute and a half.
The commission should have changed its judges instead of the rules. The man in good condition will be penalized, and local fighters who become accustomed to the longer rest will be affected adversely when boxing out of state.
Aside from that, judges as weak as those with which Arizona seems to be afflicted could easily be influenced by booing if highly partisan fans should disagree with their scoring. An additional consideration: in a 10-round bout the boxer who wins the first six rounds will be interested solely in bicycling away from a possible knockout in the remaining four. Forget it, Arizona.
THEY SAID IT
•Jimmie (The Greek) Snyder, giving his line on the Rose Bowl: "O. J. Simpson is even money to score more points than the Indiana team."
•Hank Stram, Kansas City coach, to New York Jets officials after a pregame inspection of the turf in Shea Stadium: "How much money did you make out of the rodeo here?"