Arthur Ashe behaved with dignity and restraint when he applied for a visa to play tennis this spring in South Africa. South Africa's ruling politicians reacted with typical boorishness in denying the visa. The tiny cracks in the apartheid wall have been sealed up and South Africa has totally exposed itself as unreconstructedly racist, which is as much of a tragedy for that country's athletes—whose opportunities for international competition are rapidly becoming nil—as it is for the rest of the world.
According to Walter Byers, executive director of the NCAA, the accusation has been made that the NCAA is anti-Semitic because it refused to sanction a U.S. basketball team for last summer's Maccabiah Games in Israel. Byers properly refuted the charge, which had no basis in fact—the failure to sanction was part of the jurisdictional war between the NCAA and the AAU—but he neglected to say who, if anyone, made it. That is important, because proving it is not anti-Semitic does not absolve the NCAA from blame for its series of faux pas this year, including the Jack Langer case. (Langer is the Yale basketball player who went to the Maccabiah Games anyway, with his college's approval; the NCAA reacted by suspending Yale.) It is not racial bias the NCAA is being accused of but stupidity, a more difficult charge to refute.
Curt Flood's suit against baseball and its famous reserve clause (which, in effect, binds a player for life to the club that holds his contract) may have historic significance, particularly if Flood wins his case, but it might turn out to have a relatively minor effect on the game, despite hysterical cries that baseball will die if it can't keep the clause. Realistically, what will happen if the reserve clause is abolished or drastically revised? The presumption is that players with expiring contracts would go into a free-agent pool each year and could then sign with any one of the 24 big-league teams, presumably the ones who came up with the most money. Stars would be able to sell themselves to the highest bidders and would be a cinch to draw impressive bonuses to jump to other clubs. And the rich clubs would end up with all the good players.
February 9, 1970
But will it work this way? Will a baseball club pay large bonuses to sign players it knows it can lose at the termination of their contracts, particularly when it knows that one raid invites another and that a club burned by the loss of a star is bound to retaliate by nosing around in your roster to see what it can pick up?
Look at pro football. A pro football player can free himself from his contract by "playing out his option." Theoretically, then, the game should be teeming with free agents seeking to better themselves, and the weaker clubs should be tossing around bags of money to attract them. But it hasn't happened. Teams are noticeably reluctant to take on a man who has played out his option—partly because pro football insists that a player of comparable quality must be transferred to the new man's former club—and the list of football players who have switched teams this way is significantly small. There may be a brief flurry of club-jumping in baseball when the reserve clause goes, but the major leagues are certain to establish a similar one-hand-washes-the-other system to maintain stability of rosters.
HOME AND AWAY
Al McGuire, the outspoken Marquette basketball coach, says he learned something about scheduling from Ray Meyer, his counterpart at De Paul. "Play at home early, on the road later," says McGuire, whose team was 14-1 after playing 13 of its first 15 games at home. "That gives the players confidence and makes them mentally tough, and that's what they have to be. Otherwise, they get upset by little things. You might blow a game because a plane lands a few minutes late, or because their room keys aren't waiting when they check into the hotel. You've got to lead them upstairs and put their legs in the air and feed them Jell-O."
Alien referees and hostile crowds are factors, McGuire claims, only when a team travels more than 500 miles. "Then you might get different interpretations from different officials, and different weather can have a psychological effect."
McGuire's team finishes the season with seven out of nine on the road. It will be interesting to note the results.
Three boys in Arlington, Va. have come up with a new sport—it's new to us, at any rate—and an association to govern it. The group is called the National Crabapple Association of America (that's NCAA for short, in case you're not too alert today), and the sport is, well, crabappling. The way you play it, according to Jeff Carpenter, one of the founding fathers (the other two are Mike Snowa and Mike Murray), is you "throw the crabapple out in the street and have it get run over by either a car, truck, bus or motorcycle." It is an autumnal sport because you don't find many crabapples around in, say, March.
There is a clearly defined code of rules in the Official NCAA Rule Book, and a few of them bear mentioning here. For instance:
•Four nips (being hit but no real damage) count as one hit.
•A hit by a motorcycle counts as two points.
•Two crunches (at least a third of the crabapple is smashed) count as one hit.
•If you have three pickups and on your third toss you get a crunch you may pick it up and throw it again.
•A limit of two may be thrown at the intersection of Little Falls Street and York-town Boulevard.
Sounds like a fine sport and should remain so, unless the other NCAA gets its teeth into the crabapples.
AMATEUR PRO SCOUT
Although some teams draft according to their needs and others draft according to their checkbooks, it is always fun to study the pro football draft and figure out the grand, final, unofficial All-America team. One does this by looking at the first players chosen at their respective positions, the idea being that they must be the best at these positions. Here is how it works out:
E—Steve Zabel, Oklahoma
E—Ken Burroughs, Texas Southern
T—Bob McKay, Texas
T—John Ward, Oklahoma State
G—Doug Wilkerson, N.C. Central
G—Chuck Hutchinson, Ohio State
C—Ken Mendenhall, Oklahoma
QB—Terry Bradshaw, La. Tech.
B—Larry Stegent, Texas A&M
B—Bob Anderson, Colorado
B—Norm Bulaich, TCU
E—Phil Olsen, Utah State
E—Cedric Hardman, N. Texas State
T—Al Cowlings, USC
T—Mike McCoy, Notre Dame
LB—John Small, The Citadel
LB—Jim Files, Oklahoma
LB—Jack Reynolds, Tennessee
B—Bruce Taylor, Boston U.
B—Steve Tannen, Florida
B—Ray Jones, Southern U.
B—Alden Roche, Southern U.
Fewer than half of these made the AP and UPI All-America teams, but that does not mean they were unknowns. For example, Peter Marasco of Tarrytown, N.Y., who makes a hobby of keeping track of top college players, made up a list of leading pro prospects three weeks ago. In it he tabbed all but six of the 22 players noted above. Not bad for a fellow who doesn't have a staff of professional scouts, or a travel budget, or access to game films.
IN THIS CORNER
The Metropolitan Toronto Hockey League, which has 450,000 boys in its ranks, has banned the traditional post-game practice of handshaking between rival players. Is Toronto against sportsmanship? Not at all. It is merely that after a hotly played game the kids tended to use the ritual as in the prize ring: they shook hands and came out fighting. Some were even quicker than that; they shook with one hand and swung with the other. The league thought it prudent to remove the temptation.
It sounded like a particularly successful attack by a band of grizzlies, but all the Chicago Tribune was trying to do was sum up the machinations of its favorite football team when it ran an eight-column head last week that said: BEARS GET TWO COWBOYS AND FARMER.
Speaking of bears, an all-out fuss erupted in Maine a few weeks ago when a man on TV's Today Show said that bears in that state were being shot in cages by hunters. Assistant Chief Warden John Shaw of Augusta admitted at the time, "I understand it's being done. It's not very sportsmanlike, but it's legal. A hunter with a license is allowed one bear, and it doesn't matter whether he shoots it in the woods or in a cage."
Until last September, when a one-bear limit went into effect (bears carried a $15 bounty until 1957), it was legal in Maine to trap or kill as many bears as you could find. Some trappers killed a supply and put them in deepfreeze until a customer came along who wanted a bear to drape over his car when he drove home from the hunt. Trapper Clayton Fraser of Houlton keeps his bears alive. He and his wife raise them for zoos and animal farms, and Mrs. Fraser says the only time any were shot was when the herd needed culling. Last year, for example, they bought an old male for breeding purposes. He couldn't be used, and eventually he was bought and shot by a hunter.
"I don't think of it as inhumane," Mrs. Fraser says. "It's better than hunting them in the woods where they may be only wounded and crawl off to die because a hunter is afraid to follow them. They were shot humanely here." Only old bears or those that won't breed were shot, she says, and fewer than five a year were thus dispatched. Hunters wanted them for trophies or rugs or just to prove they had shot a bear in Maine. "We didn't ask them," Mrs. Fraser says. "After they were sold they were no longer our responsibility."
However, Ronald T. Speers, commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Game, said that he saw "nothing particularly sporting about shooting a caged bear," and he endorsed a bill, since passed and signed by the governor, to prohibit it. Speers said he did not believe the instances of shooting caged bears were widespread. "Probably no more than 10 or 15 a year, but it was still a damned poor situation."
AND FOR BLOOD
At a training-table meal at the University of Rochester, Basketball Coach Lyle Brown was discussing card and table games. Trying to remember the name of the old Chinese game mah-jongg, he asked, "What's the name of that game that little old ladies in Brooklyn like to play in the afternoon?" One of his players answered, "Handball."
THEY SAID IT
•Richard M. Nixon, President of the U.S., on the allegation that G. Harrold Carswell, his nominee for the Supreme Court, once belonged to a restricted golf club: "I can only say with regard to the restricted golf club that if everybody in Washington in Government service who belongs or has belonged to a restricted golf club was to leave Government service, this city would have the highest rate of unemployment of any city in the country."
•Joe Schmidt, Detroit Lions coach, on hearing that his quarterback, Bill Munson, might be subpoenaed to testify in the Detroit gambling inquiry: "I know Munson hasn't done anything wrong; I'd bet my house on it."
•Chuck Hixson, SMU quarterback: "At our football banquet I got a clock that didn't work. At the Columbus, Ohio dinner I got a plaque with my name spelled wrong. That's what happens when you have a 3-7 season."