A somewhat startling new practice is being followed by the American League this season to record attendance. The traditional method (still followed in the National League) is to count the bodies actually passing through the turnstiles each day. But the new way is to add up the number of tickets sold and release that as the attendance—and never mind how many of those tickets are still lying unused in a desk drawer someplace, which frequently happens when season ticket holders feel disinclined to come out on a chilly, misty night to watch the Boston Red Sox, say, take on the Seattle Pilots.
It may be valid business practice (visiting teams get their full share of all tickets sold), but when the box score says, "Attendance—22,542," it seems that should mean 22,542 fans were right there in the ball park.
Last week members of the city council of Macon, Ga. rejected what they said was a request from Muhammad Ali to box in their fair city. "This man has refused to fight for his country," said Mayor Ronnie Thompson, "but he wants to fight for the dollar under a free-enterprise system that other Americans, both black and white, are fighting and dying to preserve. I would prefer that he not come to Macon."
Said the heavyweight champion: "They turned me down? That's pretty funny. I didn't even know I was asking. Who in his right mind would want to fight in Macon, Geeoorgiia?"
What happened was, some time ago a group of black Georgia citizens called Ali. Would you, they asked, be interested in fighting an exhibition to help our people? The money from such an exhibition, Ali was told, would go toward the purchase of sewing machines. "They said they'd use the machines to make clothes to give to the poor black people. I said that if that was what the money would go for then I'd be glad to fight an exhibition. That's the last I heard until now. They must be the ones that asked."
While the requesting and subsequent denying was going on, Ali was in Miami Beach where he spent 10 days—and 42 rounds—sparring with Jimmy Ellis, his old sparring partner, who will defend his WBA share of the heavyweight championship against Henry Cooper in London this month. Ali was paid $50 a day plus $32 for hotel expenses.
"People were getting all excited to see me jumping around in a ring," said Ali, "but I was just getting in shape. I don't know why they think I'm getting ready to fight. Everybody knows I'm going to jail."
"You know he's going to jail," said Lou Gross, a Miami Beach trainer who noticed that Ali came alone to the Fifth Street Gym each day. "Remember when he was fighting? He must have had 20, 30 guys around him, courting him, spending his money. Now he's got nobody. The bloodsuckers know. That man is jailbound."
TALL IN THE SADDLE
No handicap is too great to overcome if you have the drive and ambition. At the Longacres track in Renton, Wash, there is a jockey named Eldon Hall, who is 6'1".
THINGS TO COME
With an eye to pro football's realignment next season, the Cleveland Browns have had Mike Nixon, former head coach of the Washington Redskins and the Pittsburgh Steelers, visit AFL training camps this summer and size up teams and players. Most of the AFL clubs welcomed Nixon cordially, though Buffalo and Oakland refused him access to their camps and agreed only to let him study game films.
Nixon's reaction to the AFL is revealing. He thinks that five of the 10 AFL teams—New York, Oakland, Kansas City, San Diego and Houston—are capable of playing evenly with the NFL. "The others," he says, "have some catching up to do." However, he adds that before the season is very far along Buffalo may be up with the top five. Nixon is impressed by the Bills' defense and predicts, "With O.J. they'll be a real contender this season."
In a masterpiece of timing, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board has sent out an attractive color brochure to prospective travelers from Great Britain saying, "Come shooting in Ulster."
The brochure adds: "We hope that our visitors who decide to take these shooting holidays will not only obtain the utmost enjoyment from them but will see some of our famous attractions, tour our green, unspoilt countryside and come back with friends in succeeding years to taste again the hospitality of the Ulster people."
But it warns, "Visitors must apply to the Royal Ulster Constabulary for firearm certificates. Though subject always to public safety, every effort is made to avoid elaborate procedures."
BETTER THAN NONE
Placekicker Charlie Durkee, who was annoyed by the new NFL rule on trick kicking shoes (SCORECARD, Aug. 18), has been released by the New Orleans Saints—but not because his metal-reinforced shoe was declared illegal. What brought about Durkee's downfall was another kicker with the Saints named Tom Dempsey, who booted Charlie out of a job. Dempsey, a free agent who spent 1968 on the San Diego Chargers' taxi squad, was born without a right hand and with only half a right foot. Yet in one exhibition game this year he used his incomplete foot to kick field goals of 16, 49 and 54 yards, the last only two yards shy of the NFL record. Dempsey wears a sort of half-shoe with the kicking surface covered by a horseshoe-shaped piece of leather. Mark Duncan of the commissioner's office, who banned Durkee's metal-reinforced shoe earlier, approved Dempsey's, even though the oddly shaped shoe, developed last year by the Chargers, cost $500 to produce. Duncan said the key factor was the lack of metal in Dempsey's shoe. "I've examined some shoes," Duncan said, "that I could hardly lift."
Even so, Charlie Durkee was miffed—by everything. One Saint player said, "There is no question that the combination of having his shoe outlawed and Dempsey kicking those moon-shot field goals psyched Charlie." As for Dempsey, the new Saint placekicker says, "A shoe hinders me. I'd rather kick barefoot. I once kicked a 61-yard field goal without shoes."
The Novosti Information Service, a press service of the Soviet Union that specializes in notes on sport and physical culture, issued Bulletin No. 8275 on Aug. 11. With a perfectly straight face it offered two not necessarily related items: the first was a statistical report on Physical Culture Day (45 million people engaged in organized sport in the Soviet Union, 208,000 sports organizations in factories, schools, farms and institutions, 201,000 instructors, 2,000 sports doctors, 3,065 stadiums, 34,318 sports grounds, 91,882 football fields, 419,027 basketball and volleyball courts, etc.); the second noted that Medjid Agayev of Tikyaband in Azerbaijan had just celebrated his 135th birthday and had received a telegram of congratulations from 164-year-old Shirali Muslimov, also of Azerbaijan. There was no mention of what sports Medjid and Shirali took part in.
Plans for the Munich Olympics of 1972 are moving along briskly, but not too briskly. West Germany, hypersensitive to anti-German feeling left over from the Hitler era, is pushing a low-key, soft-sell image and likes to refer to the Munich games as the "friendly, human Olympics of '72." This was evidenced in the decision to let the eccentric refugee Russian Timofey Prokorov (SCORECARD, May 27, 1968) remain in his jerry-built home right spang in the middle of the area designated as the site of the Olympics. Plans were altered, and the Olympic equestrian course will now be built around Timofey. Also rising are an 80,000-seat stadium, a 10,000-seat arena for boxing and basketball and an 8,000-seat pool, all to be covered by one huge, fiber glass, tentlike roof that will also cover access roads to the subway. Nearby will be another indoor arena, a velodrome, a press building, a television center and apartments that will house 12,000 athletes and officials.
And there, too—already constructed—is the spectacular centerpiece of the Olympics, the $6.5 million concrete tower called the Olympiaturm, which is topped by a television spire, an observation deck and a revolving restaurant. The really significant thing about the Olympiaturm is its height, 290 meters (951 feet), which is only 10 meters less than France's Eiffel Tower, the tallest building in Europe. Now it is hardly likely that German technology was unable to add another dozen or so prestige meters to the tower and thus make it the tallest in Europe. No, indeed. The Olympiaturm was deliberately kept 10 meters short so as not to hurt the feelings of the French and to reaffirm the theme of the friendly, human Olympics.
Adolf Hitler must be spinning in his bunker.
Bethune-Cookman College of Daytona Beach, Fla. is a member of the predominantly black Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, but it is actively recruiting white football players. Nine white boys, all from Florida and Georgia high schools, came to Bethune-Cookman this year and the college has added a white assistant coach, Bud Asher, to Head Coach Jack McClairen's staff. McClairen, who has brought Bethune-Cookman football from relative obscurity to comparative strength, says, "We talked to a lot of the boys at the Georgia high school all-star game. Some of the players' parents were reluctant to have their sons come here, but we invited them down to see our physical plant and they decided to come into the fold."
THEY SAID IT
•Sam Jones, Boston Celtic star who retired this spring, explaining that it did not surprise him when Bill Russell announced that he was resigning as player-coach of the team: "What would you do if Sam Jones retired?"
•John Brodie, 49er quarterback: "When Joe Namath throws the ball, they call it a quick release. With me, they say I unload."
•George King, Purdue basketball coach, commenting on the lecture he gives at summer coaching clinics on the Purdue offense and its star, Rick Mount: "I call it my sermon on the Mount."