PARSIMONY IN THE PARKS
Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall has ordered that the operations of national parks and campgrounds be cut back. Because Congress reduced funds for the recreational service, the Secretary said mournfully, there was no other recourse. Accordingly, as of this week, Carlsbad Caverns National Park will be closed every Tuesday and Wednesday. Other national parks and monuments in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma and elsewhere are also closing down two days a week—different days for different parks. Tourist brochures were already out when the shutdowns were ordered, so there are going to be some very confused and disappointed park visitors—and the tourist trade (in New Mexico the third largest industry) will suffer.
Not only will communities lose business and individuals pleasure, but the government seems likely to lose more in taxes than it gains in piddling economy—and semiskilled employees of parks, motels and restaurants will be added to the welfare rolls. As Secretary Udall pointed out in his statement ordering curtailment, visits to the national parks have increased from 103 million in 1963 to 152 million in 1968, with 42 new areas added. And yet park staffs must now be reduced. Congressmen often orate about America's scenic beauties and the need for recreation, but they apparently think that these—as opposed to congressional junkets—are good things to scrimp on. The National Park Service, although it is wary of saying so, would be happy to see a public outcry and a flood of mail to Congressmen.
HOME AND HOME
December 9, 1968
The theory that the home field confers an advantage in football was put to a test recently in a game between the Kansas high school teams of Eskridge and Alta Vista. The game began, as scheduled, on the Eskridge field, cut to 50 yards in length because half the field was under water. Eskridge was ahead 13-0, when, just as the half ended, an Eskridge punt struck a field light, shorting out the lighting system and plunging the field into darkness.
Whereupon school officials loaded teams, spectators and cheerleaders into buses and moved them the 25 miles to Alta Vista, where the second half was played on a 100-yard field. In that half Alta Vista outscored Eskridge 12-0, making the final score 13-12, Eskridge. So the home-field advantage would seem to have been demonstrated conclusively. But it just may be that Eskridge is the better 50-yard team.
Stu Aberdeen, assistant basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, has bought a new broom to use this season. Not that his job entails a little light sweeping. He is only 5'6", and when he demonstrates defensive techniques he uses the broom to block shots.
RACE IS ON
Matters of black and white keep cropping up in collegiate sports. At the University of Wisconsin, racial discord on the winless football team became open last week when 18 black athletes boycotted the annual football banquet. The Wisconsin situation has an unusual feature; the father of Quarterback Lew Ritcherson, one of the discontented blacks, is an assistant coach, Les Ritcherson. After Head Coach John Coatta told an interviewer earlier in the year that any racial problems had been ironed out, the elder Ritcherson told the same interviewer: "There is a black-white problem. Coatta just doesn't realize it." One of the reported black grievances was Lew's early-season loss of the starting quarterback slot.
Meanwhile, at San Jose State College, seven black members of the team refused to play in last week's game with Brigham Young on the grounds that Mormon doctrine is insulting to Negroes. The boycotters had been told that such an action would cost them their scholarships. The student council has said it will suspend all appropriations to the athletic department if any scholarships are withdrawn. San Jose Coach Harry Anderson's resignation became effective after the game. The black athletes are sponsoring Walt Roberts, a former San Jose star, as his replacement and are said to have approached an established Negro coach for permission to submit his name also.
It looks as though college sports, already ablaze with racial politics, are now in for a wave of racial rebellions, and the issues are not always going to be clear-cut. Black and white, but not clear-cut. Let us hope that the people who administer college athletics are doing some clear thinking.
Picture the expression of a man who casts out an illegal small-mesh net and brings in a nice batch of fish and a game warden. It could happen off Oahu.
Conventional Hawaiian wardens find it hard to catch boat or scuba fishermen in the act of violating state laws, because the violators see the wardens chugging up in their 16-foot patrol boats and desist. All that has changed around Oahu, because the marine wardens have landed, or rather sounded.
Now whenever a fisherman in the waters of Oahu ventures to do such a thing as fish with chemicals, spear undersized or out-of-season fish, spear or take lobster out of season or use one of those illicit nets, he runs the risk of being surprised in flagrante delicto by a scuba-diving warden. The moment a suspected violator is observed from the shore, a marine warden is dispatched 'neath the waves to investigate. It must be awful to hear someone say "Aha!" or "Gotcha!" or "J'accuse!"—or even, in such circumstances, "Aloha!"—through an underwater breathing apparatus.
If the program works—and at the very least it ought to give guilty fishermen the creeps—it will be extended to all Hawaiian waters. We just hope there are stringent penalties for spearing or otherwise illegally taking a game warden.
The Navy football team cannot say the Army did not give them fair, or maybe foul, warning. Last Friday, just as the Midshipmen left the academy dining hall after lunch, a civilian airplane hired by the West Pointers bombed them with 169 pounds of psychological-warfare leaflets. "Your situation is hopeless," the message began. "You support a hopeless cause. Your football team couldn't even beat Boston College." The Middies were urged, at some length, to surrender, so as to avoid "a humiliating defeat." For the sake of U.S. security, then, it is probably a good thing that Navy lost. There is no telling what would be the effect on a nation's army of having to eat 71,130 leaflets.
Last year the popular English bicycle racer Tom Simpson collapsed and died climbing a mountain in the Tour de France, and now two French athletes have drugged themselves to death.
Jean-Louis Quadri, 18, played soccer on a local amateur team near Grenoble, but dreamed of becoming a national star. Several weeks in a row he distinguished himself by playing aggressively and tirelessly, and local soccer officials promised he could play soon for a bigger team. In a game six weeks ago Quadri dribbled past the opposing eleven's defenders and prepared to boot the ball into the goal. Instead, he collapsed on the field and turned blue in the face. On his way to the hospital he died, leaving a widow of 19 with a baby of two months. An autopsy revealed the presence of amphetamines. Police investigators guessed he acquired the illegal drugs from a psychiatric hospital where he worked.
A week later, in the same region, an unheralded 23-year-old bike rider, Yves Mottin, wowed local fans by out-pedaling regional stars and winning a cross-country race. Two days later his parents discovered him dead in his bed. The family doctor refused to allow him to be buried without an autopsy. It revealed that he had been taking amphetamines. Police suspect a friend of Mottin's had smuggled the illegal drugs into France from Italy.
As in the case of Tom Simpson's death, it has not been officially announced that the soccer player or the cyclist died from an overdose of drugs, but French doctors, sports officials and fans and the entire press take it for granted. The Grenoble district attorney is investigating, the Ministry of Youth and Sports is following the case closely, the outraged press is denouncing drugs in sports, and perhaps fewer young athletic hopefuls are giving in to this form of Faustian notion.
Up in Kittil√§, a small Finnish village north of the Arctic Circle, an elk shot another elk. That's what all the Helsinki papers said. Three hunters had stacked arms, the story went, and were making a fire for coffee. Three elk sneaked up on them and started stamping on the rifles. When the men tried to shoo them away one elk, a big bull, advanced threateningly. The men hid behind the fire, and the other two elk went on kicking the rifles around, until finally one went off, shooting the threatening elk through the heart.
After carrying the story for two days the press shamefacedly admitted it was a hoax. But we believe it, in principle. And we have a feeling the surviving elk will be back, and next time will know how to aim.
As everyone who has tried it knows, weekend skiing in the East is a sport closely related to rush-hour subway riding. One ski resort, however, is going to make it possible for skiers to run into fewer people this year.
The owners of the Windham (N.Y.) Mountain Club in the Catskills have found business to be so good and waiting lines so long and restive that they have decided to convert the public facility into a private membership operation, as in golf, tennis and yachting. Anybody can use the club on weekdays, when crowds are generally light, but on weekends only members can ski. This year, at least, the membership will be limited to 400 so that everyone can count on 12 descents a day. Last season, believe it or not, a skier could seldom count on more than four.
THE BEAT GOES ON
This week's Gorgeous George Memorial Award, for the person who has done the most to integrate televised sports into his daily affairs, goes to Jerry Zapata, a Dallas drummer now playing with a Las Vegas combo. On nights when the Dallas Cowboys play on national television, Zapata, an avid Cowboys fan, takes the top off a bongo, puts a small portable TV set inside it and watches the game while banging away.
If you are looking out for something fresh in the way of boxers—and who isn't?—you might keep an eye on a 26-year-old Fresno ex-marine named Mack Foster, 6'2", 214 pounds. Foster didn't start boxing until he was 21, has been a pro for only two years and is being brought along cautiously by his manager, Pat De Furia, but he claims 19 victories in 19 professional fights, all by knockouts before the eighth round. He has a powerful build, moves well for his experience, has a good left hook and hopes to fight in New York in February, maybe against Leotis Martin. He is hungry for a shot at the title, when the time comes.
THEY SAID IT
•Don Bryant, Nebraska Sports Information Director, asked after the 47-0 loss to Oklahoma why the Nebraska coaching staff had selected no Husker nominees for Big Eight back of the week: "Be serious."
•Terry Leiweke, Houston kicker, on the pressure involved in trying the final extra point against Tulsa with the score 99-6: "I was very nervous. I felt I couldn't let the other guys down after they had got the score that close to 100. I was really on the spot."
•Kenneth W. Smith, chemist who conducted the urinalysis on disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Dancer's Image, replying to a question at the case's hearing in Louisville, after having said about a hundred times already that he could not recall certain things: "As I recall, I don't recall."