Last week at the Berkeley campus of the University of California, Negro scholarship athletes released a series of demands that brings into the open a wide area of discontent probably applying to the framework of sport at many American universities.
Called a "Resolution of Black Athletes," the statement called for the firing of three coaches for incompetence and inability to relate to black athletes, the firing of a business manager accused of assigning black athletes inferior summer jobs, and the elimination of "quotas" on scholarships to black athletes. It said that black athletes had been subjected to derogatory comments because of their appearance, had been accused of goldbricking when too injured to compete, had been left to fend for themselves to find housing and had received poor academic counseling because it was assumed they lacked intelligence. The resolution demanded the hiring of "coaches of a minority background."
The situation that triggered the resolution was, in essence, friction between the 11 white and five black players on Cal's basketball team and, in particular, the feelings of Bob Presley, the team's Negro center and high scorer. Presley has several times called his coach, Rene Herrerias, incompetent. He was suspended for missing practices and, according to some reports, for refusing to get his hair cut. Presley has said the play of the Negroes on the team was not properly appreciated by the press or by Herrerias. Negro players began to refer to one white player as a honky, and whites, in turn, began to give the Negroes less opportunity to score and play well in games.
February 5, 1968
Some of these claims are petty, but the resolution raises other issues that are not petty at all. The question of Negro quotas, the charge that Negroes malinger over injuries, and the assertion that they are considered and treated as paid employees at colleges have long been talked about—but never publicly. At issue, too, is the college-perpetuated myth that such athletes are students first; that their sport is an avocation. Schools such as California are particularly vulnerable in this area, for they must account, with a straight face, for their admission of athletes, Negro and white alike, whose only qualifications for college entrance are their athletic skills.
Bob Presley, for example, was expelled from or dropped out of three different Detroit high schools, and was then imported with other Negro athletes to a Salinas, Calif. school for one semester where his marks were mostly "below average." He attended two junior colleges and another high school before showing up at Cal. This is the same kind of disadvantaged background shared by many athletes on college teams.
The Negro threat to boycott the athletic program at Berkeley is a move for recognition that has the inherent weakness of allowing the college to say, "Go ahead," since cutting a basketball game is not the same as cutting classes. But the points raised by the Negroes have considerable validity—even if the proposed boycott does not. The situation at the University of California presumably will simmer down, but the discontent manifested by the "Resolution of Black Athletes" is of immediate concern to all colleges.
Two Sundays ago a New Zealand country lawyer on his first attempt at big-game fishing lost a swordfish after fighting it for 32 hours. The fish towed Donal Heatley and a 12-ton, 40-foot charter boat one whole day and well into the next night on a zig-zag 70-mile course from the northeastern tip of Mayor Island to the Alderman Islands, where the 120-pound test line finally broke. Experienced fishermen on the boat estimated the swordfish weighed somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds (the world record is 1,182).
Heatley wore through two pairs of gloves during the battle, and his friends had to stuff crumpled magazines between his back and the fighting-chair harness when it began to cut into him. They fed him ham sandwiches, tomatoes and cans of beer.
On four occasions, he brought the fish within 20 yards, but each time it dived beneath the boat and Heatley had to let it go again. "When the line broke," he said, "I was almost relieved. I don't think I could have kept going any longer. I am happy to have fought the feller. He gave me the sorest backside in New Zealand and hooked me on fishing. I'll be back."
The curriculum at Lewis and Clark College soon may include a course unique in the world. A move is afoot to make Nima Tenzing, a Sherpa guide on the successful 1963 Mt. Everest expedition, instructor in mountaineering.
A few years ago Tenzing and Luther Jerstad, who was then a student at the University of Washington, made several climbs in the Himalayas. Now Jerstad is on the faculty of Lewis and Clark, teaching theater history and Asian theater, writing books on Asian culture and generally progressing well.
Tenzing has followed a rougher path. Sherpa climbers, using money made on Himalayan expeditions, for a few years reopened ancient routes to Tibet, transporting Nepalese goods to trade for Tibetan products. Then the Chinese invaded Tibet, and the passes were subsequently closed. And since 1964 all foreign climbing expeditions in the Himalayas have been cut off. Tenzing took a job as a house boy in Paris and finally saved enough to come to America for a visit with his old climbing partner, Jerstad.
Jerstad thought up the idea of courses in advanced mountaineering to be given by Tenzing, who is fluent in 11 languages, in Oregon's Cascade Mountains. He arranged appointments for Tenzing with members of the Lewis and Clark faculty, and it is quite possible that a Sherpa school of climbing will start next season in the Cascades.
Most basketball teams play better at home, but the University of Akron Zips are an exception. The team has won eight of nine games on the road but only two of six at home. Last week Coach Tony Laterza tried a new ploy. Before a home game with Mount Union College, he took his players for a bus ride to Medina, Ohio for their pregame meal. They returned to Akron in time for the game and piled out of the bus in front of Memorial Hall just like a visiting team. The Zips won the game 68-39 and, for their good behavior, they will get another bus trip.
Washington and Illinois have scheduled a dual gymnastic meet for February 11, though neither team plans to attend. Four judges will watch video-tape replays of earlier performances by the two teams and will make their decisions on that basis.
Dr. Eric Hughes, who coaches Washington, explains that collegiate gymnasts seldom compete in meets with schools outside their own conference because of small traveling budgets. He believes, however, that video tapes will make national and even international competition possible. He hopes to arrange matches this year for the Huskies with the University of Cologne and Nihon University in Tokyo.
Although camera angles and the quality of the picture could influence the officials' point scoring, two recent experiments with the Washington squad show that video-tape judging is feasible. In one match judges viewing the live event gave the Washington team 179.3 points. Four different officials watching the video-tape replay gave the Huskies an identical total-point score. In a second, similar experiment there was only a .3 point difference between the two groups of judges.
The thing we wonder about now is how does a team learn that it has lost. Does a judge pick up the phone and say to the coach: "Hello, Harry, how are you? How's everything with the wife and kids?..."
OH SAY CAN YOU HEAR?
It was the first boxing match of the year at the University of Nevada, and the gymnasium was filled with 3,000 spectators. Thorne Tibbitts, the ring announcer, introduced the contestants and said, "Now, ladies and gentlemen, our national anthem." Silence. No band. No recording. No national anthem.
Jake Lawlor, Nevada's athletic director, volunteered to sing the national anthem. But he got stage fright. Tibbitts then proposed that the crowd recite the pledge of allegiance. They did—and then the fight began.
PISTOL PACKIN' MAMAS
Women residents of Dearborn, Mich., a tight little enclave of segregation on Detroit's northwest border, are flocking to weekly classes on how to handle a hand gun. The response has been so overwhelming that Mayor Orville Hubbard says, "It's like Annie Oakley was just elected President." Part of the reason for the interest in firearms is Mayor Hubbard himself. During the Detroit riots last summer Hubbard urged his residents to "take up arms" and "shoot straight and deadly." The riots never got past the Dearborn border but, at Hubbard's suggestion, the city recreation department started a course in how to shoot and handle a gun—for women only. The National Rifle Association ("Guns don't kill people.... People kill people") volunteered an instructress, and the first night 150 determined women showed up. The classes have become so full that there is now a 140-woman waiting list, and the Dearborn recreation director is thinking about scheduling extra sessions.
DEFENSE IS NO. 1
Paul R. Keller of Delaware, Ohio is the originator of a statistical measure for basketball that he calls the Offense Efficiency Rating (OER). To help analyze their play, 769 high schools and colleges employ the Keller system, for his figures are both more logical and valuable than the rudimentary conventional offensive and defensive indices.
Last year Keller's figures showed conclusively that UCLA won the national championship primarily on account of its defense. This year his analysis indicates that Houston—a team whose defensive prowess often has been maligned—beat UCLA in the Astrodome at the Bruins' own best game, defense. In fact, both teams had such bad Offense Efficiency Ratings that Keller assumes that the unusual Astrodome setting played a responsible role. Still, the Houston defense rating was outstanding.
The figures also show that the UCLA press has lost none of its power. Houston's OER was not only significantly lower when the Bruin press was on, but UCLA was much more potent offensively following the press. The Bruins scored 1.22 points every time they took the ball off the press, but only 0.76 points each time they got the ball in more normal fashion. If these two top teams survive to play a rematch in the NCAA championships in March, Houston can be forewarned to expect a full-time full-court game.
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Medwick, former St. Louis Cardinal star, on being named to the baseball Hall of Fame after many disappointments: "I felt like I was in a 20-year slump."
•John Pont, who coached Indiana to its first Big Ten title in 22 years: "I was walking out of our field house a couple of weeks ago after our basketball team lost by nine to Northwestern, and I heard a man in front of me grumbling to his wife, 'Well, what in hell can you expect from a football school!' "
•Ken Holtzman, Chicago Cub pitcher, explaining why he hasn't signed his 1968 contract: "We're still about two Cadillacs apart."
•John Galbreath, president of the Pittsburgh Pirates and owner of two Kentucky Derby winners: "There's one nice thing about winning a Kentucky Derby with a horse. You don't have to feed him any more the day after the race than you fed him the day before the race, and you don't have to sign him up for next year."