Arthur Ashe says it is no great personal tragedy to him that "if I were to ask for a membership, even if I had the money and probably the social standing—which is very subjective—I couldn't join seven-eighths of the clubs where I play." The clubs, after all, "bend over backwards to be nice to me." And they don't stop him from winning on their courts.
Although Ashe seems to be taking an unmilitant view of racial attitudes in his sport, there has been some progress, thanks to pressure brought by him and others. Last April the USLTA—in an unpublicized move—voted, in effect, to take away the accreditation of tournaments that bar Negroes. A player's performance in such a tournament is not considered in the national rankings.
Still, it is shocking that there are tennis tournaments in this country in which Arthur Ashe cannot compete because of his color. And it is shocking that there are many prestigious clubs in the country to which the U.S. men's amateur tennis champion could not belong, if he were so inclined.
September 8, 1968
Perhaps most dismaying of all are those clubs around Washington (Chevy Chase Club, Columbia Country Club and Washington Golf and Country Club) that recently resigned from a tennis league because Mrs. Carl Rowan, wife of the former State Department official, U.S. ambassador and U.S. Information Agency head, was playing in it. She is a Negro.
These country-club follies, though insulting, are not really hard on Arthur Ashe or Mrs. Rowan—but they reflect a racism that wears upon the spirit of us all. And they prove that, as an old country (not country-club) philosopher once said, "You can get a red neck other ways than by plowing a field."
GOOD CARRY, THOUGH
There are bad lies, and there are bad lies, and then there is hitting into a helicopter.
One morning recently Frank Burany, traffic reporter of Milwaukee's WTMJ radio, was cruising in the station's Safetycopter—150 feet over the North-South Freeway, past the Lincoln Park Golf Course—with the copter doors open because of the heat, when he heard a thud.
He looked down and saw a golf ball on the floor. William E. Kaap, a high-handicap golfer who was playing the Lincoln course, had skied his shot off the 6th tee. Without even looking around for a handy green, Burany kicked the ball out of the helicopter. It came down a couple of miles from the golf course. Kaap elected not to play it.
Before he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, Wilt Chamberlain was offered a spectacular deal with the Los Angeles Stars of the American Basketball Association. The Stars were prepared to pay Wilt a salary of $250,000 a season for five years. The other teams in the ABA were going to chip in to provide Wilt with the use of another $500,000 for five years for investment purposes, and with a deferred payment of $500,000 that would be paid in installments beginning 15 years from now. In agreeing to pitch in to help its L.A. entry, the other ABA teams obviously subscribed to a common cause. Or as Shakespeare said: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."
With Wilt gone across town to Inglewood to join Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, the Stars are now in an even more vulnerable position. Namely, they don't have any stars. It is apparently no more than circumstantial, but Bill Russell, who has not signed his 1968-1969 contract with the Celtics, has been in Hollywood all summer. He is an old teammate and business partner of Bill Sharman, the coach of the Stars, and recently Russell went out of his way to praise Sharman, coach and man, in a radio interview. Sharman, however, maintains that he has not so much as even said hello to Russell all summer long.
If that is so, and since all other NBA drawing cards are already under contract for this season, the Stars must be planning just to hang on, weather the Chamberlain-Baylor-West barrage this year and then use some or all of the money Wilt wouldn't take to try to lure Lew Alcindor into the ABA next year.
At the South Willow Campground in Utah's Wasatch National Forest, a forest ranger emptying a recreation-fee container found two dollar bills and a note: "Attached find one dollar for use of this camp. The other dollar is one I owe in Yellowstone National Park. My conscience has been bothering me."
The other day Louis Martin swallowed two radio transmitters, suffered 47 electrodes trailing bundles of wire to be injected into his skin and picked up 1,000 pounds.
Thus does science come to the aid of the weight lifter. Martin (who hoisted the half ton altogether in a press, a snatch and a clean and jerk) is a middle-heavyweight lifter who will represent Britain in the Olympics, and researchers at Loughborough University in Leicestershire are helping him train.
The idea is to get an electronic profile of a good lift—to discover the patterns in which a weight lifter's muscles should operate. Then researchers can tell a man making a poor lift the reason why.
The transmitters in Martin's stomach registered internal pressures. The electrodes in his skin were connected to pens that recorded his muscle movements.
"We want to find out what makes sportsmen tick," said Vaughan Thomas, project coordinator, as Martin strained and radiated data, "and then to make them tick better, faster, higher."
As Thomas' statement implies, it would seem that these procedures could be invaluable to athletes in many sports. Baseball players with hitches in their swings, for instance.
Perhaps the apparatus could even be programmed so that instead of going "beep...beep" and making marks with a pen, it would spit tobacco and say, "Yer dippin' yer levator scapulae."
Before the Winter Olympics at Grenoble tens of thousands of French children participated in a national drawing competition, and the best works of art were used to decorate the rooms of athletes and journalists who came to the Games. A Ukrainian newsman was so delighted with his drawing that he took it home and had it published on the front page of a Kiev newspaper. The drawing consisted of the five familiar Olympic circles. In four of them the young artist had sketched typical Russian scenes and in the fifth circle she had written her name and address: Sonia Verdan, Mions, France.
After the drawing appeared in the Soviet press, Sonia began receiving mail from all over Russia—letters, photographs, drawings, postcards, chocolates, dolls, lace, chinaware and linen. Only a few of the 800 letters are in French, and many are in Ukrainian, which even Sonia's Russian grandfather, who lives in Mions, cannot read. "I am hoping some student at the University of Lyons will be able to translate them for me in the fall," Sonia says.
She may have to look for a Polish translator as well. The picture apparently has been reprinted in Poland. Last month letters started arriving from Warsaw.
The big thing in Cook's Tours this year and next is a trip up Mount Everest. Nepal, which controls most of the approach routes to the mountain, has not allowed foreign expeditions to climb its Himalayan peaks for the past three years, but last week the country announced mountaineers were welcome once again at Everest. The fees to be paid by climbing parties are steep and will provide a significant amount of money for the Nepali exchequer.
Although Cook's itinerary for the Mount Everest climb (it will take place in November and will cost $1,850 round trip from Los Angeles) does not include a stop at the top of the 29,002-foot peak, the tourists will be taken three miles up the mountain to the Everest base camp. The tour company says even little old ladies in tennis shoes can get that far without difficulty. The climb will be mostly along mountain tracks and although some shingle slopes will have to be traversed, there will not be any actual rock climbing. Members need only bring clothes, foot gear and a knapsack. Baggage should be limited (please note, Little Old Lady), but porters can be hired to carry movie cameras and scientific equipment. The high point of the trip will be some lavish meals cooked by Sherpa cooks at the base camp. After that, it's back down to earth.
BOOT THE KICK?
In interleague exhibition games this summer AFL and NFL teams have had to score the extra point after a touchdown by running or passing rather than kicking. The experiment has added a significant measure of excitement. Teams miss the point four out of 10 times, and Kansas City's Hank Stram believes if the run or pass was mandatory in regular-season games, coaches would work out defenses that would probably mean a still greater percentage of failures. In the NFL last season kickers missed the extra point in only 19 of 606 tries.
Reactions to the experiment are widely varied. "I think it's a lousy idea," says Coach Norb Hecker of Atlanta. "I am in favor of abolishing the entire extra-point procedure. But at least the kick gives the weaker team about the same percentage of success as the stronger team." Tom Fears of New Orleans, whose team was beaten by Houston when the Oilers ran in an extra point with less than a minute left, agrees. "The rule would give someone like the Packers an extra advantage," he says. "The more powerful the team, the better chance it has of making two yards."
Understandably, Houston General Manager Don Klosterman sees the run-or-pass situation differently. "When we beat the Saints the crowd cheered the final touchdown much less lustily than the game-winning extra point, which would have been a yawn had it been kicked instead of run in. The fans seem to be all for it."
Don Shula of the Colts thinks the experimental rule makes the field goal too important. "Two field goals can equal a touchdown 50% of the time, and that doesn't seem right to me," he says. And Sid Gillman of San Diego criticizes it because he believes the offensive unit needs a rest, and the run or pass increases the risk of injury.
One of the most interesting, if personal, viewpoints is that of San Diego Quarterback John Hadl. He objects to the possibility of calling a splendid game, yet having people go away saying "that stupid quarterback" because of one crucial extra-point play. "Either take this rule out or pay us more money," he concludes.
SECRET OF SUCCESS?
Horseplayers who have been losing money might give prayerful consideration to a letter from a rabbi that was published recently in The Blood-Horse, a racing journal. Rabbi Tzvi H. Porath of Chevy Chase, Md. tells of the discovery of a fragment of Sefer Harazin (The Book of Secrets), which was written in the second century and lost after the eighth century. The author of the book wrote a special prayer for horses competing in chariot races, which reads: "I entreat you, the angels who run between the stars, that you give strength and force to the horses in this race and to their driver that makes them run, that they shall not be tired and they shall not stumble and they shall run easily, and no beast shall defeat them, and no charm nor magic shall work against them."
One questions the prayer's efficacy, though. If it had been any good, it seems unlikely it would have been lost.
THEY SAID IT
•Kim Hammond, former Florida State passing star, now with the Miami Dolphins: "The ball is shaped the same but the players aren't."
•Jerry Kramer, Green Bay guard, when asked about his former coach, Vince Lombardi: "He doesn't have ulcers, but he's a carrier."