A MATTER OF RESPONSIBILITY
The swift suspension for the season of two Minnesota basketball players involved in the shameful brawl with Ohio State (page 18) is to be commended. But what about the coach, whose philosophy generated the tension that exploded into violence? What about the high university officials, whose bumbling in handling athletic matters (SCORECARD, Jan. 10) was earlier evident and who tolerated and even fostered the coach's ideas because of an unseemly hunger for victory at all costs? The greater guilt—and Minnesota's disgrace—lies with them.
THE NEW ATHLETE
Explanations of Big Eight supremacy in football (SCORECARD, Jan. 17) indicate that part of it was the result of an influx of athletes no longer able to get into Big Ten schools because of stricter admission standards there. This, in turn, could imply that the rise in Big Eight football fortunes has been achieved at the expense of academic excellence, but such apparently is not the case. About 20 members of Nebraska's national-championship squad had semester averages of 3.00 or better (4.00 is equivalent to straight A). All-America Slot-back Johnny Rodgers and Co-captain Jim Anderson both had perfect 4.00 averages. All-America Tackle Larry Jacob-son had 3.30. Offensive Guard Dick Rupert had 3.73. Safety Bill Kosch had 3.44. If brains contribute to athletic success, as all this may indicate, Nebraska's opponents will take small comfort in learning that 13 members of the Cornhusker freshman squad had averages of 3.00 or better.
Another Big Eight school, Kansas State, has five players on its basketball team with 3.00 averages or better. And Oklahoma's brilliant quarterback, Jack Mildren, selected as one of 11 scholar-leader-athletes to receive a Gold Medal Award, wowed a distinguished audience at the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame dinner in New York in December with a fine off-the-cuff speech.
The NCAA likes to use the phrase "student athlete." Perhaps it is no longer an empty phrase. Perhaps it is the athletic dunce who is going the way of the dinosaur.
Brian's Song, the film about the touching relationship between the Chicago Bears' Gale Sayers and his dying teammate, Brian Piccolo, was a rousing popular success when it was shown on TV a couple of months ago, and it has been charging ahead on all fronts ever since. Sayers' book, I Am Third, which provided the basis for the film, has been selling like mad since the TV success, and so has a second book, Brian Piccolo: A Short Season, by Jeannie Morris, wife of the Bears' Johnny Morris. The theme music from the film has been recorded by several artists, including Peter Duchin, Peter Nero and Hank Crawford. The movie itself (President Nixon said, "Believe me, it was one of the great motion pictures that I have seen") has been playing in Chicago and eventually should be in theaters across the country. Its box-office success may put off until sometime next fall a planned rerun on television.
ALI HERE, ALI THERE
In Vancouver the touring Muhammad Ali said: "I've been everywhere, all them continents. Europe, Africa, Arabia, Mecca. That's the bestest place of all, Mecca. I went around and talked to the kings and princes and everything of those Arab countries, and they're all getting together and going to send me $20 million for our Black Muslim college. The money will go to educate and cleanse the black people and purge out their evils and give them pride in themselves, because America won't do that for them. No sir, America won't do it.
"Man, America is really messed up. Not like in England. Oh, I love it there. The police there don't have no guns when they walk the streets. Not like in America, where every cop needs a club, two machine guns and 12 police dogs."
In Hershey, Pa. the touring Muhammad Ali said: "We may have some racketeers and some things we have to change around, but America is like my wife. She has some faults, but the good overshadows the faults. I got nothing but good to say about this country. I'll never leave here talking against America. I don't care what country I go to, I'm very anxious to get back. We came from Africa, but I'm not talking about going back there. We been 400 years building up this place.
"When foreigners ask me about the terrible racial situation in America, I tell them it ain't so terrible like it was. Nixon is doing all he can. The North is forcing the South to respect blacks. Our people have more jobs and money than they ever had. Schooling is better. In fact, if this country keeps going in the next few years like it has been, all those problems people heard about in America are gonna seem like nothing but dreams."
About the dumbest thing in sport is the practice of collecting autographs. For every serious collector, there are 50 idiots of all ages who thrust scraps of paper at athletes for no logical reason except to bask in the sun of the celebrity. The Montreal Canadiens' All-Star Goalie Ken Dryden, who dutifully signs when asked, says, "Signing autographs is a complete waste of time for everyone concerned. An autograph is supposed to indicate a closeness between the signer and the collector. But in most cases you never even see the face of the person you're signing for, since you end up signing one autograph after another, like an assembly line."
Skiers have long had a reputation for being ardent drinkers. Indeed, critics say some skiers force themselves to make one run down the slopes just to be eligible for the apr√®s-ski snort. It seems only right then that Sapporo, where the Winter Olympics are getting under way, has turned into a ski drinker's paradise. There, in the somewhat demimonde Susukino section, which is less than a quarter of a mile square, there are an estimated 2,500 taverns and 60 high-rise drinking establishments known as "bar buildings."
The largest of these, the Green Building, is nine stories high and contains 187 separate and distinct—at least for a time—pubs. The pubs compete with one another, with each having its own staff and its own entrance inside the building. Some have go-go girls or topless waitresses; others are more sedate. Because of this hopefully universal appeal, the Japanese entrepreneurs confidently expect as many as 25,000 people to visit the Green Building each night.
It all seems very efficient. But pub-crawling indoors is a different sport. The welcome blast of cold fresh air as one leaves Bar A for Bar B will be missing, which could be upsetting for skiers who have always assumed that ingestions of well-chilled oxygen help keep them relatively sober. Perhaps it would be wise for Sapporo visitors to begin at the top of a bar building and work their way down to the comforting norm of street level.
Man, who has loved victorious underdogs ever since David put Goliath down for the count, has seldom, if ever, had a more successful member of the breed to love than the University of North Dakota. Last March, in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, North Dakota went against powerful Michigan Tech, ranked No. 1 in the country at the time. Dakota won 6-4. This past October, North Dakota's football team met North Dakota State, which had won 29 in a row, had been unbeaten over 35 consecutive games and was ranked first in the AP and UPI college-division polls. North Dakota stunned North Dakota State 23-7. Last week Eau Claire State's basketball team, which had won 13 straight and was No. 1 in the AP, UPI and NAIA college-division rankings, played North Dakota. Almost inevitably, it was upset 73-70.
Not bad. Or are you aware of some other school that in a year's time has beaten the No. 1 team in three different sports?
DAY TO REMEMBER
Henry Aaron, who is only 75 home runs short of Babe Ruth's career record of 714, passes his 38th birthday this week, a venerable age for a ballplayer. Pragmatic Henry says of his efforts to break Ruth's mark, "If I stay healthy, I'd say I have an excellent chance."
Paul Richards, vice-president of the Atlanta Braves and Aaron's boss, is more specific. Richards says flatly, "If he stays healthy, Henry will break the record on Aug. 31, 1973." You might put a circle around that date.
During the epidemic of campus unrest in the late 1960s, San Francisco State College was a sort of Bunker Hill for student revolutionaries, a haven for the "don't-trust-anyone-over-30" generation. But now the school seems to have come full circle—in basketball, anyway. San Francisco State averages 25.0 years per man, an astonishingly high figure when it is realized, if you compare the first six men on each team, that four pro clubs in the NBA are younger (Buffalo, 24.6, Houston, 24.0, Cleveland, 24.3 and Portland, 24.8).
San Francisco State's oldest is Ray Hearne, a fateful 30. Charles Hammond is an elderly 28. Two others, Vance DeVost and Gary Bradford, have reached the quarter-century mark. Youth is represented by Jack Wilson, 22, and Larry Taylor, 21.
The team had an admirable 11-5 record as of last week, with three of the losses coming by a total of five points. Significantly, two of the defeats came in overtime, which may say something about that age. And, lest the over-30 crowd become smug, it should be pointed out that the leading scorer is Taylor, the baby of the team.
Some sports stars are more outspoken than others. One of the bluntest is a lady named Yolanda Roacho, known professionally as Baby Rocco, the arch villainess of the Texas Outlaws roller skating team. Here are some of Baby's recent comments on her sport and her job: "I quit the game once a few years ago, you know? I couldn't stand the travel and the lousy hotel rooms. I went home to L. A. and got a job—and I nearly went out of my mind. It gets in your blood, you know? I mean, with all the crap you got to put up with it's still better than 9 to 5. I don't like it, but you get used to it.
"The fans are nuts, you know? I mean, I get paid good money to do my job, and my job is to win. I don't care how I win as long as I win, and if some nut up there in the stands don't like it, he can shove it, you know?
"Maybe some of the slugging going on out there is more show than real, but when someone shoves you and you hit the track and bounce three or four times before you stop, brother, that's real. And I got the bruises on my tail to prove it."
THEY SAID IT
•Debbie Meyer, winner of three swimming gold medals at the 1968 Olympic Games, on retiring from competition at 19: "I'm loving every minute of it. Now I get to stay up late and watch the late movies and sleep in. I'm going to continue coaching little kids. I love little kids. They have me wrapped around their little fingers—just like I had my coach wrapped around mine."
•Walter Blackwell, 6'2", 270-pound McKeesport, Pa. All-State high school tackle, asked his hobby: "Practicing to be mean in football."
•Gary Colson, Pepperdine basketball coach, after his team was crushed by the University of Hawaii 125-88: "Hawaii could play anybody in the world, even UCLA. Well, UCLA isn't really in this world."
•Wilt Chamberlain, unimpressed by the Lakers' record 33-game winning streak: "I was once with a team that won 445 in a row—the Globetrotters."