POLITICS vs. PRINCIPLES
The haranguing over the summer Olympics, much of it pompous or hypocritical, does not abate, and it is evident that political leaders have settled on sport as a propitious terrain for the advancement of their theories and ambitions. More and more across the world is heard the cry that the Games should be boycotted because of the readmission of South Africa, and with increasing sharpness comes the retort that progress has been made because the South Africans will have met Olympic requirements by sending an integrated team.
Avery Brundage, as William Furlong reports in his story beginning on page 18, is standing on well-established Olympic tradition, although the pressures are getting to him. Brundage is charged with failing to be a man of the times, as if that were a crime, but the accusation—even if true—may be less derogatory than its formulators intend.
Certainly it would be wrong for the U.S. to support the boycott. We did not boycott the Games in Hitler's Berlin in 1936, and since then we have usually thought it beneficial to compete with Soviet Russia and other Communist countries which had or have tyrannical regimes repugnant to most Americans. If the Russians and other Iron Curtain nations, for reasons of political expediency, decide to boycott in sympathy with the African nations that are pulling out, there is no doubt the Games will be seriously vitiated.
March 11, 1968
Finally, who knows, if American Negroes join the boycott, it might be that the only blacks in Mexico City would be the South Africans, on whose behalf all the fuss is being made. The incongruity of such a climax would somehow be all too relevant to this ludicrous mess.
THE RECORD MAKERS
From time to time there are angry protests from NBA teams and players about the official scoring system in the league. It is decidedly bush, with home-town favoritism blatantly evident in the recording of individual statistics. The NBA Guide, for instance, lists 23 rebounding performances of 40 rebounds or more in a game. Just one of these records was made without the benefit of a home-town statistician. Similarly, only one of the top 36 assist marks was made on the road.
A classic scoring goof was made in a 76er-Bullet game two years ago when the official box score credited Gerry Ward with one field goal in no attempts (1 for 0). There was also the time that Hal Greer took six shots in a game and made seven of them, according to the stat men. And at half time in the All-Star game in January, Greer was credited with making two baskets but only taking one shot.
In a recent game in Evansville, Ind. between Chicago and St. Louis the official scorer recorded only three assists for the Hawks' Len Wilkens, who tops the league in that category. This led to immediate retribution when the Bulls visited St. Louis. At half time a Chicago official complained to Hawks General Manager Marty Blake that the Bulls' Jim Washington had been credited with only two rebounds. Blake replied, "Washington will get another rebound when Wilkens gets an assist in Evansville."
Currently Wilt Chamberlain is leading the league in complaining about statistics, and probably with good reason. Philadelphia Statistician Harvey Pollack is one of the few well-regarded scorers in the NBA. He won't favor anyone, including Wilt, but he thinks Chamberlain probably has a valid complaint. To check for himself, Pollack decided two Sundays ago to keep his own box score as he watched the telecast of a game between the 76ers and the Hawks in St. Louis. The official statistics showed Wilkens with 13 assists and Chamberlain with four. Pollack, however, credited eight to Wilkens and nine to Chamberlain. "I knew it was coming," Pollack said, "because Chamberlain was catching Wilkens in total assists."
Why doesn't the NBA just throw away its record book and start again—this time as a big-league operation?
The Houston Astrodome opened three years ago, which at the rate stadiums are slapped up should make anything said about it old Stetson. But only now are they getting around to fixing the place up proper.
Six floors of living quarters and recreation facilities have been built behind the scoreboard "for VVIPs (Very Very Important Persons) and their families." Included in the complex, according to a publicity release, is a presidential suite, which has been given a security clearance by the Secret Service and is equipped with a direct telephone hookup to the Russian hot line.
There is a putting green that no doubt would have pleased a number of Presidents, a shooting gallery, a bowling alley, a barbershop, a beauty salon, a 19th century-style saloon, a conference room upholstered in zebra from Nairobi, a chapel and, in the apartments, canopied beds, marble bathtubs and "cloudlike carpeting."
It sounds wonderfully sporting, but we sure hope nobody tries to call a bookie on the wrong phone.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, there is talk of putting a match to 8-year-old, $14.3 million Candlestick Park. It would cost $7 million to convert it into a multipurpose stadium, and Mayor Joseph Alioto says, "I am not altogether sure we want to perpetuate a mediocrity." One suggestion under consideration is to use Candlestick's concrete walls for apartment buildings or light industry. Another proposal is to build an airport on the site. If Candlestick is demolished, a new stadium would be built downtown.
THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND
It is just as well that Umpire Emmett Ashford was not in Sacramento when the California Legislature passed a resolution congratulating him for his "successful career in baseball officiating" and "commending him as an outstanding example of the value of hard work and dedication."
In the first place, the author of the resolution, Assemblywoman Yvonne Brathwaite, called Ashford a "referee." Then Assemblyman Robert Monagan declared he was not sure he could support the resolution. He could excuse some of the errors Ashford must have made during his career, Monagan declared, but one in particular he could not pass over. It was a call at third base in a game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. Monagan said Ashford was in no position to see the play. Another legislator protested that Ashford was a prime example of one of California's great humanitarian programs—aid for the self-supporting blind.
Maybe so, but if Ashford was out of position on that call at the Dodger-Cardinal game, it is because he was in the wrong town. He is an American League umpire. Now, about the self-supporting blind....
IN THE DOGHOUSE
A notice at the entrance of Cruft's dog show in London read: "No dogs admitted." An official explained: "Well, there are dogs and dogs, you know."
DON'T FENCE ME IN
Two weeks ago the whole state of Texas lost its No. 1 college football prospect—Jack Mildren of Cooper High in Abilene—to the University of Oklahoma. The coaches in the Southwest Conference are furious about that raid and others that have been made on Texas players by outside coaches. The coaches blame their losses on an SWC rule which forbids visiting a high school prospect until the end of his final football season, and then only twice before the deadline for signing letters of intent. Oklahoma and other colleges may visit a boy any time and as often as they want during his senior year.
Cooper High School Coach Merrill Green says Mildren was visited by coaches almost every night after practice and several times before school in the morning. There is even a rumor going around that Oklahoma rented an apartment in Mildren's home town in order to see him more often.
The number of top Texas football prospects signing with schools outside the SWC is unquestionably increasing. Houston, which got three Texas "blue chippers," Oklahoma, and LSU have been the most successful at outrecruiting the SWC. Darrell Royal, head coach at the University of Texas, has suggested a meeting of these three schools and the SWC to discuss compromise measures on the two-visit rule. Oklahoma Coach Chuck Fairbanks, his prize catch tucked away, replies, "I might be interested in just going to his meeting and I'm always willing to discuss it, but as of right now I am not interested in limiting our visits to a prospect unless they can convince me of something I don't know about right now."
Why, Chuck, that's being downright un-Texan.
A MATTER OF DEFINITION
The possibility that Polish Sprinter Ewa Klobukowska may be stripped of her 1964 Olympic medals—one gold and one bronze—because she failed a chromosome test last September in Russia demands an appraisal of the effectiveness of such tests to determine an individual's sex. Professor Arnold Beckett, a member of the International Olympic Committee's seven-man medical commission, says the test is 100% reliable and there is no way to affect the result by the introduction of drugs, chemicals or 100-proof bourbon whiskey.
The sex test, as it is now given, requires only the light scraping of the inside of an athlete's mouth with the kind of wooden spatula familiar to anyone who has ever said "ahh" to the family doctor. The material is stained, mounted on a glass slide and examined under a microscope. The smear contains cells, and in the nucleus of each there should be two small, dark dots called barr bodies. If they are found, it means that two X chromosomes are present and the person is therefore, by definition, a woman. If two barr bodies are not evident, a second test is required. It is more thorough, demanding the examination of a blood sample or tissue culture in which chromosomes are more clearly visible and relatively easy to count. There should be 48 of them—in a woman, 23 pairs of matching chromosomes plus two X chromosomes. If the subject is a male the examiner will find 23 pairs of chromosomes, one Y chromosome and one X chromosome. Scientists consider this the ultimate definition of why one person is male and another female. It is possible for an individual to have all the right curves and to appear, even under the scrutiny of a close medical examination, to be a woman, but technically to be a man by virtue of the chromosome count.
While scientifically there may be no disputing the chromosome test, there are a multitude of degrees of just how masculine or feminine a person really is. The IOC apparently is not fully satisfied with the completely scientific definition. It is right to pursue the question further.
GRIN AND BEAR IT
A Trenton (N.J.) woman visited a Maryland racetrack recently and played Nos. 2 and 8 in the daily double because her birthday is February 8. No. 2, Frisco Express, won the first race and, sure enough, as the horses turned for home in the second race, No. 8 was leading by five lengths. The lady began to root so exuberantly, her false teeth fell out. Another horseplayer, quick on the uptake, darted over, pocketed the dentures and disappeared in the crowd. Neither the man nor the teeth have been found. However, the lady won her double and collected $101.20. The name of her horse in the second race: John's Smile.
THEY SAID IT
•Roger Craig, ex-pitcher and new manager of the Albuquerque Dodgers: "I lost 24 games my first year with the Mets. You've got to be a pretty good pitcher to lose that many. What manager is going to let you go out there that often?"
•James Garner, actor, describing what it was like to attend a sports celebrity awards dinner: "I felt like my bubble-gum card collection had come to life."