THE OLYMPICS, LIVE
This is an article from the Nov. 4, 1968 issue
It was a relatively discordant and unsheltered Olympics. The world's much-heralded gaps, between nations, races and generations, were several times made visible, and there were more disgruntled interviews than usual. Russia expressed displeasure with its team before the Games were over, and American officials publicly scolded and then cast out two of the best U.S. competitors.
But in any other competitive international convocation—a United Nations session, say, or a peace conference—such notes would have seemed only mildly sour. It was still the Olympics, and it brought some of the world's best people together on common ground and in mutual respect. There were still the traditional scenes of Pakistanis mixing with Kenyans and Aussies in wildly heterogeneous congeniality. Sociological considerations did not obscure the muscular and spiritual crises of individual athletes, rising to the occasion or being mastered by it. There was plenty of beautiful motion.
And Americans got a better look at it all than ever before. Dedicated U.S. home viewers, in fact, had a better view than any VIP guest in Mexico City. ABC television was on hand with 464 gold-jacketed personnel, 24 miles of cable and a camera seemingly ready to pick up every sweat suit that moved. The network's orchestration of live, taped, slow-motion, stop-action and split-screen coverage of events at 16 different sites for 16 days has been criticized as too jumpy and as overlarded with commercials, but on balance it was a laudable job of comprehension and analysis. The filmed studies of the leading contenders' forms were edifying, and the on-the-spot pursuit was typified by the sight of Howard Cosell chasing Charlie Greene around the track after the 100-meter final. It is good to know, firsthand, what an Olympian has to say when he's still out of breath.
ABC says the 44 hours of telecast time cost $12 million and will turn no very sizable profit, but there is no doubt that the big enterprise paid off. The cameras' scrutiny deprived the Games of a purely athletic appearance and made them a deeper ceremony.
HORSES OF WORSHIP
Last Sunday, for the first time in three years, the Rev. Paul Bryant of Columbus, Ohio did not commemorate the Ohio Western Horse Association roundup by conducting church services in the Columbus Coliseum astride a horse. As usual, a good percentage of the congregation was on horseback, but Rev. Bryant, whose own back was bothering him, just rode into the arena, dismounted and preached from his feet. Fortunately, the event had not been billed as the Sermon on the Mount.
FORGING A LITTLE NATURE
The symposium, Man and Nature in the City, held Oct. 21-22 in Washington, D.C. under the auspices of the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, was given over largely to the traditional pursuits of planners, beautifiers and parks, fish and wildlife men, some 250 of whom attended. Nature, it was generally agreed, is good for even a city man, making him healthier, happier and less inclined to throw fire bombs. The lack of nature in the cities was pointed out and deplored. It was recommended that whatever nature could be found near cities be publicly acquired and that more symposia be held.
Somewhat at odds with the consensus was Dr. Robert N. Young, executive director of the Baltimore Regional Planning Council. He gently chided his colleagues for being at heart, despite their new concern for urban problems, rural-type men with rural-type notions. The inner-city citizen, said Young, seldom has the means or the inclination to seek out and take advantage of traditional forms of nature, even if they are only as far away as the nearest suburb.
Therefore, Young said, Baltimore planners see the need for manufactured nature. On the Baltimore drawing boards are blocklong brooks babbling down decorative concrete valleys, miniforests of potted trees, and inner-city hills and dales made of tastefully arranged and camouflaged rubble piles.
"It is cheaper to throw up a hill with a bulldozer than to find and buy an existing hill," said Young. "Also, manufactured natural features can be made out of materials and put in places that are familiar and reassuring for inner-city dwellers." A spontaneous, nonsynthetic natural feature, the implication seems to be, would be too rich for an urbanite's blood.
A GOOD-SIZED BACK
How do you defend against a 415-pound fullback? That is the question opponents of Central High School, Charlotte Court House, Va., must answer this year. For Central is blessed with Carlton (Tiny Tim) Vaughn.
Carlton, a 17-year-old junior, is 6'3½", has a 20" neck and 54" waist, and wears a uniform pieced together by Central's home economics department out of three pairs of pants and two jerseys. He opened the season as the entire left side of Central's defensive line, but, since nobody ever ran to his side and he wasn't getting any experience, Coach Howard Williams started using him at fullback. He has averaged 7 carries a game and 6 yards a carry, without blocking. "When Carlton is going to run," Williams says, "we tell our offensive line to just get out of the way. They could be hurt badly if he happened to fall on them." Since the defense must generally commit 10 players to dragging Carlton down, Central has scored 6 touchdowns after faking handoffs to him.
So Carlton deserves much of the credit for the all-Negro team's 7-1 record in the Virginia Interscholastic League. Williams also sees him, although his grades are not good enough for college, as an eventual pro prospect, if he brings his weight down to a solid 325 pounds through weight lifting and grows a few inches taller.
If he doesn't slim down, it won't be because of inactivity. He gets up at 4:30 a.m. to work on a nearby dairy farm until 6:30 and goes back to the farm after school to work from 9 to 10:30 p.m. If he does become svelte, it should add something to his speed, which Williams has never bothered to time, but it may detract from his style, which is known as "the earthquake trot."
THREADS INSTEAD OF STICKS
Yogi Berra has an explanation for the fact that hitters have been overshadowed by pitchers lately. "I don't like Little Leagues," he says flatly. "Look, those kids play—what, five or six innings? They may get to hit twice. They get a fancy uniform and they hit twice. When I was a kid, we'd get to bat 100 times a day."
Yogi may be right, but he's bucking the trend in more than junior baseball. With the major leagues expanding as they are, more and more kids, whether they can hit or not, are going to be wearing those fancy uniforms.
SOME BOOBY PRIZE
When the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 6-3 last Sunday in Pittsburgh, they lost the O. J. Simpson Super Bowl. The Steelers-Eagles game was a match made in hell, or at least in the basement, but its stakes were high. Since both teams entered the game winless and deadlocked for last place in all of pro football, the Eagles, by refusing to depart from form, gained the inside track on the first pick in the postseason player draft—an opportunity to claim Southern Cal's precious O. J.
From the attitude of Pittsburgh fans during the weeklong buildup to the contest, however, you would not have guessed that so much was at stake. Not only did the term "Futility Bowl" gain wide currency, but the word around town was that both teams would run onto the field backward.
Thus do Steelers fans stave off their despair—thus, and by leaving early. Since spectators at Steelers games have been departing Pitt Stadium in droves during the third quarter of most games, saloon wits had advice for persons holding tickets to the Futility Bowl: "Wait till the game is over and beat the crowd." If such black humor spreads to Philadelphia, O. J. may start trying to figure a way to beat the draft.
STANDS ON LAND
Democratic incumbent Bert Cole has 52 years' experience as commissioner of public lands in the state of Washington, but as a campaigner he is a little stuffy, at least in comparison with his opponent, Richard A.C. Greene.
Greene, a big, round-faced, bespectacled Republican with a thick black mustache, promises to return law and order to Washington's forests by requiring deer hunters to stop shooting each other. His other stands include:
On Indian fishing rights, "Individual catches will be limited to four Indians." On land use, "Land should be used gently but firmly." On Whidbey Island, "Whidbey Island must be replaced." On Quilcene oysters, "Baked at high heat with a little chive, parsley, garlic and wine...."
A Seattle newspaper has called Greene's campaign a joke, and overseeing a state's land is to be sure no laughing matter, although many of the things that happen to America's diminishing store of unused land are absurd. But Greene, who trounced three other Republicans in the September primary, says he's serious. "If elected, I shall be the sort of land commissioner who will go out fearlessly and commission the land."
THEY SAID IT
•Mrs. Maxine Mitchell, 51, a member of the U.S. Olympic women's fencing team, on the sex tests prior to the Games: "I must admit I was worried for a while. I have four children and eight grandchildren. I wondered what I was going to tell them. 'Call me grandpa'?"
•Terry Hanratty, Notre Dame's star quarterback, after breaking a record held by legendary George Gipp: "I feel as if I just broke a piece of my mother's expensive china."