LET TV BE YOUR GUIDE
Merrill Panitt, editor of TV Guide and a man who knows where the dollars and cents are in television, thinks the NCAA is all wrong in its football-on-TV policy. The NCAA makes up its TV schedule before the season begins, rather than wait to see which game each week shapes up as the liveliest attraction. It does this so that the telecasts can be distributed equitably among NCAA members and thus be, so to speak, a showcase for both college football and the colleges themselves.
Panitt argues that this policy is hurting college football, relatively speaking, and that interest in the college game should be much higher than it is. He cites all sorts of figures to prove this (example: 75 colleges have dropped football), but his clincher is that the NCAA will get $12 million a year for its TV contract, compared to the NFL's $25 million. The reason for this vast difference, he says, is simply that more people watch NFL games than NCAA games, even though college football has great appeal (he notes that when ABC exercised its "wild card" option last year and televised USC-Notre Dame, the game drew the largest TV audience of any regular-season football game ever, pro or college, and that the Rose Bowl, which by happy coincidence matched the two best teams in the country, had a better rating than the Sugar Bowl).
Panitt feels that as long as the NCAA is involved with commercial television, it could enhance college football by going all-out for TV money, instead of loafing along at half-speed. Select the game to be telecast five days in advance instead of five months. Look into the possibility of playing and telecasting games at night, to avoid conflict with stadium attendance in the afternoon. Start a postseason playoff to determine the national champion "and charge the TV people a fortune to carry it." Put on the best show possible and get full value for it.
Maybe he's right. Then again, college football is more than USC vs. Notre Dame maximum ratings every week, the top dollar. Sometimes you can't sell tradition, but it is kind of nice to see it on TV once in awhile.
DUM-DUM DUM DUM DUM
Robert A. Brown of Cody, Wyo. has invented an ashtray that can be attached to a riding saddle (U.S. Patent No. 3,457,702). This should relieve conservation-minded Smokey the Bear fans, who have been worrying about all those cigarette butts the Marlboro cowboy gets rid of out in the wild country.
Whether the NCAA's television policy is good or bad doesn't seem to matter to Ohio State. The Buckeyes have led the country's college football teams in average attendance per game for 11 straight years and for 17 of the last 18. The ease with which the big stadium—it seats 81,455—is sold out is the envy of virtually every other college team in the land and most pro teams, too.
This season, for example, after reserving a substantial block of seats for faculty, staff and students, Ohio State put its season-ticket books (for the five home games) on sale June 1. It distributed applications to priority groups such as alumni and longtime ticket holders, with a deadline of 30 days for applications to be returned. By June 12, every available ticket had been sold.
A howl of anguish immediately went up from almost 10,000 applicants who had been shut out, even though they had sent their applications in well before deadline. But after last season, when Ohio State was unbeaten (10-0) as it won Big Ten, Rose Bowl and national championships, the demand for tickets was extraordinary. And when they were gone, there was nothing Ohio State could do. It has been proposed, usually by those who have tried vainly to get tickets, that the open end of the Ohio Stadium be closed in with new grandstands. But Athletic Director Dick Larkins says, "There is no point in adding bad seats," and, anticipating other arguments, the faculty council flatly states that nothing would be solved by adding an extra game to the schedule.
The discontent could conceivably cause Ohio State difficulty in the future if it runs into a couple of lean years on the field, but right now the whole thing is the kind of problem a college can enjoy.
WITHOUT A SCOREBOARD
The National Brewing Company, majority stockholder of the Baltimore Orioles, nowadays does not bid high enough to get the advertising space on Baltimore's municipally owned Memorial Stadium scoreboard.
Jerold C. Hoffberger, president of the brewery and board chairman of the Orioles, is unperturbed that brewing competitors have been presenting their messages to baseball fans since 1957.
"If they think it's worth that much, more power to them," Hoffberger said, with no particular concern, when the F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company outbid National. "They'll just have to sell that much more beer."
What Hoffberger well knows is that operation of the Memorial Stadium scoreboard is so erratic that only the strong of will can bear to look in its direction for long. The Baltimore scoreboard does not explode, belch flame or roar like a passing train. It just sits there and fizzles, no matter what the operator tries to make it do. Some panels remain blank. Sometimes numbers are superimposed or cannot be read because only some of the bulbs are lighted.
The trouble, apparently, is not bulbs or fuses or overdue bills. It is squirrels. The bushy-tailed rodents get in the scoreboard and for some reason known only to them and nature, chew on the wires, cutting them, shorting them out and causing strange things to happen, or not to happen.
For instance, after seven innings of play in Houston, the score was presented as Houston 9, Cincinnati...4, which apparently meant the Reds trailed in runs but led in dots. Earlier this season the lights in the "outs" panel didn't work, and those totals were transferred to a space usually reserved to flash numbers explaining official scorers' decisions. At the time of baseball's earlier expansion in 1961 a miniscoreboard was set up alongside the outmoded larger structure to allow all nine out-of-town scores to be posted. But nothing has been done about the 1969 expansion. Two National League scores are omitted when there is a full schedule because there just isn't any room.
City officials are hoping to install a new $l million squirrel-proof scoreboard someday. Meanwhile, Hoffberger knows what he's bidding on.
Fairly substantial rumors have been popping around Los Angeles that the warring pro basketball leagues are about to follow the lead of pro football and announce a merger, possibly within a month. Paul Caruso, a Beverly Hills attorney who is also counsel for the ABA's Los Angeles Stars, was approached by three NBA owners—reportedly Sam Schulman of the Seattle Supersonics, Dick Bloch of the Phoenix Suns and Franklin Mieuli of the San Francisco Warriors—and asked to present the merger idea to the ABA's executive committee. The NBA trio proposed two separate leagues with a common draft and, after the ABA has been upgraded to the level of the NBA, a championship playoff or Super Hooper Bowl (SCORE-CARD, May 19). The Stars and the Oakland Oaks would relocate to avoid conflict in Los Angeles with the Lakers and in the San Francisco area with the Warriors. Each ABA club would pay a $500,000 indemnity to the NBA.
Jim Gardner, president of the ABA, denied the merger report, and Walter Kennedy, NBA commissioner, said he had no knowledge of any meeting. Jim Hardy, general manager of the Stars, and Alex Hannum, general manager of the Oaks, insisted that neither team will move. But Caruso confirmed that the meeting took place.
"I'm disturbed that it's out," he said. "There have been some tentative discussions, but nothing is firmed up. No meetings are planned for the immediate future, but we hope to get something started real soon."
HELL HATH NO FURY
Elinor Kaine is a New York City sports-writer. Her specialty is professional football. After the New York Jets and the New York Giants scheduled a preseason exhibition game at the Yale Bowl—the first meeting ever between New York's two pro teams—Miss Kaine, a regular habitué of pro football press boxes, applied for working-press credentials.
Her routine request stirred up a storm. Impossible, she was told. Women are not allowed in the Yale Bowl press box. The reasons were vague. Tradition and all that. Or the fact that there is only one rest room and it is for men. (Miss Kaine replied, tartly, "I didn't ask to go to the john. I just want to sit in the press box.")
Miss Kaine has threatened to sue for full credentials to the game, which is to be played on August 17, and she seems to have a case. There is a precedent. In April 1954 a prepublication issue of this magazine ran an item about a girl named Ann Morrissy, who had made history of a sort by becoming the first girl sports editor of the Cornell Daily Sun. That fall Miss Morrissy (now Mrs. Wendel S. Merick) made even more of a stir when on October 17 she drew herself up to her full 5'2" and marched into the Yale Bowl press box to cover the Yale-Cornell game. Cornell lost 47-21, but Miss Morrissy didn't, and we have a feeling Miss Kaine won't, either.
On the off-chance that there is still someone out there who has not yet made his vacation plans, we pass along this really fun fishing trip that Pan Am has worked up with a Chicago travel agency. First, everything is provided: accommodations, all meals and ground transportation, fishing licenses, all tackle, guides and boats. And off you go on the trail of trout in Ireland; salmon in Norway; on to Yugoslavia for huchen; dry-fly fishing in Austria; over to Mozambique for black marlin; then to New Zealand and Paraguay for trout and Ecuador for striped marlin; on to Costa Rica, Mexico and Nicaragua for tarpon; a bit of bonefishing in British Honduras; back to Canada for lake trout and big muskies, then home again.
As any vacationer knows, timing is everything. The travel agency figures that, with any luck at all, the trip can be made in 33 weeks. Air fare comes to $2,585.75. And, let's see, now, adding that to the agency's price, it brings the total trip to $33,763.75. Per person, of course.
Then there is the 316-foot yacht Antarna, which once belonged to dictator Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, among others. It has a 55-man crew, 31 sails (34,000 square feet), 12 double staterooms, eight of them with fireplaces, and gold-plated fixtures in the marble-paneled bathrooms.
You may charter the Antarna for $7,800 a day, although Bob Fisher, vice-president of the yacht brokerage firm of Northrop and Johnson, adds that, "Of course, for longer trips, we make downward adjustments."
The Athletic Goods Manufacturers Association reports that of the $384 million spent for sporting goods last year, almost half—$ 187 million—was spent on golf equipment.
THEY SAID IT
•Dick Radatz, 6'6", 265-pound Montreal Expo pitcher, to 5'6", 165-pound Freddie Patek, Pittsburgh Pirate shortstop, at the beginning of a fight between the Expos and the Pirates: "I'll take you and a player to be named later."
•Gerry Philbin, New York Jets end, on the emotional statements of some teammates that they would not play this year if Joe Namath did not: "George Sauer said he'd rather dig ditches. Right away I knew that George had never dug ditches."
•Vince Lombardi, Washington Redskins coach, after a TV crew moved too close while he was talking privately to Quarterback Sonny Jurgensen at training camp: "You guys would stick that equipment in a coffin."