Thanks to a pair of recent high-level government decisions, ABC-TV's coverage of the Munich Olympics, which will be the most exhaustive in sports history, finds the network caught in an apparent profit squeeze even before the eternal flame gets lit. The squeeze will not curtail this year's 61½ hours of exposure but it must certainly give instant pause to television's decision-makers when they contemplate future extravaganzas of this sort.
ABC will have invested four years of hard labor and more than $20 million to prepare for the 17 days of programming it has scheduled—what with 30 hours of coverage tucked into 10 week-night slots starting Aug. 28 and ending Sept. 8. Each evening will present three hours of prime-time programming, while other networks are offering the final gasp of TV's summer reruns. ABC expects to cash in mightily on the lack of competition.
Because Munich is five hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone, all nighttime coverage will be taped from earlier action that same day. In addition to the tapes, the network will provide some 18 hours of live coverage during three weekends of the Games, including, on Sept. 9, a "Ryun Special," the 1,500-meter finals, which are scheduled to begin about noon.
ABC Sales is figuring an average audience of 9.7 million sports-happy homes, and 20 sponsors have eagerly bought up all 451 commercial minutes (at $48,000 each). Considering that this comes to a very tidy gross revenue of $21,648,000, why the profit-and-loss tears? Well, that's television, and ABC paid the Germans $13,500,000 for Olympic rights and facilities, and other expenses doubtless will push the final total into the red. The two political setbacks since the package was awarded are last year's revaluation of the German mark (a $1.9 million blow) and the FCC's refusal to waive the local prime-time rule, which will cost the network another $1.1 million.
Obviously, the cost of gold, silver and bronze has gone out of sight.
ACC OPENS THE DOOR
After a federal court judged it illegal and discriminatory, the Atlantic Coast Conference, which had been the only major league in the country to have a minimum college board entrance requirement for participation in sports, abandoned its rule. Previously, ACC colleges had not permitted anyone with less than 800 on his college boards to take part in athletics, unless he also had a 1.75 grade prediction average instead of the NCAA's required 1.6.
ACC football coaches, especially Hootie Ingram at Clemson and Jerry Claiborne at Maryland, had been the most vocal in condemning the rule, which impeded their recruiting. ACC basketball coaches, who have built strong national powers under the old rule, had not complained.
Still, Maryland immediately enrolled Maurice (Mo) Howard, Philadelphia basketball star, who almost surely could not have been admitted to college under the old regulation.
SEA CHANGE IN PHILLY
A year ago Philadelphia's Board of Education, in an effort to pry money out of state and city treasuries, threatened to wipe out all 1971-72 school year varsity sports in order to balance its budget. Money came through and the high school athletes got to play, though the football season started a week late.
Now Philadelphia is on its way to becoming the sportingest city in the nation by way of celebrating 1976, the country's bicentennial year. It has been awarded the 1976 finals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament, as well as the All-Star games of the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and major league baseball.
Now, if Pete Rozelle is listening, Philly would like a shot at the Super Bowl. Br-r-r-r.
THE SAINTS MARCH OUT
Among the eight contemporary figures immortalized in the stained-glass windows of the Spaghetti Emporium, a Harvard Square eating place for students, are Joe Namath and Bobby Orr. Another is Spiro Agnew, who is shown as St. John the Baptist, his index finger pointing skyward and a GOP banner in the folds of his sleeve.
Orr guards his flock with a hockey stick instead of a crosier and, in place of a Bible, holds a Boston Bruins program. Namath, grinning like a bear, wears a green and white uniform, reminiscent of St. Patrick, and has a miniature football encrusted on his crosier.
Christy Rufo, an artist who specializes in stained glass, remade the designs from windows in a 60-year-old church. He took out the religious symbols and replaced the heads.
"I make stained-glass windows for a living," he explained, "but I prefer to concentrate on the whimsical and tongue in cheek, even for church windows. They're too impersonal and removed."
HORSEY SETS, ANYONE?
When the horses aren't running, and that is for most of the year, a racetrack is a piece of property going to waste. But Golden Gate Fields near San Francisco already has an infield golf course of nine holes, mostly par-3s, and now is adding 10 tennis courts, to be opened for the Golden Gate Pacific Coast Tennis Classic Sept. 18, when women pros will compete for $20,000 one week and men pros for $34,000 the next.
When that is over, Dennis Van der Meer will conduct tennis classes and rent courts to all comers. Then, when racing returns, nine courts will become parking lots on Saturdays and holidays. Only the center court will remain untouched.
CLOUDS OVER ORLANDO
One reason minor league baseball is so much fun to watch is that so many strange things happen on the field, incidents that remind one of the good old Brooklyn Dodger days at Ebbets Field.
Less than a week after Early Wynn was inducted into the Hall of Fame, his Orlando Twins of the Class A Florida State League did some very fancy losing. They lost not just a twin bill but a tripleheader, scheduled because two previous games had been rained out. The Cocoa Astros whipped them 5-0, 2-0, 4-3. No arrests were made.
And Pancho Herrera, the Philadelphia Phillie from the 1958-61 era, has been reviving a lost art as playing manager of the Key West Conchs. Playing first base, he may have come up with a new baseball record. He has pulled off the hidden ball trick no fewer than 16 times this season, including twice in one game against Orlando.
DANGER AL FRESCO
Books have been written about how easy it is to search around in the wilds, or even in vacant lots, and find delicious and nutritious stuff that cannot be bought in supermarkets. It is true that this can be done. It is also true that it is dangerous fun, as mushroom fanciers will tell you.
Two Baltimore youngsters died recently. One, a 15-year-old girl keenly interested in organic foods, had come across the fact that a tall, coarse herb known as pokeweed is edible when boiled. So it is, but only when the poke-weed shoots are young, gathered in early spring, and boiled not once but several times. She boiled the shoots only once, in summer, and died.
The other victim was a boy who was found dead in a woods. His hobby was botany. In his hand was a list of botanical products, like Solomon's seal and foxglove, which are poisonous. He had died, as Socrates did 2,371 years ago, by drinking an extract from the bark of the hemlock.
The supermarket is not too terribly attractive to the gourmet but it is reasonably safe. Only the very well-schooled should dine experimentally in the woods.
FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE
On his way to an alumni gathering, Mike III, Louisiana State University's Bengal tiger mascot, was injured when his trailer became unhitched and overturned on the highway. The 14-year-old Mike was taken back to the university, where Dr. Robert B. Lank, veterinarian, said he was all right except for a slight laceration of his right rear paw.
Word of the accident spread rapidly, along with rumors that Mike was in a had way. So a group of Tiger fans telephoned an offer to donate their blood, if needed.
GRAND TOUR FOR SOCCER
The world's most popular sport is soccer, but interest in it grows ever so slowly in the U.S. Based on the experience of 13 Maine schoolboys just returned from a 21-day soccer-playing tour of Europe, it will be a long day before the U.S. attains any worldwide stature in the game.
"What we learned," said Bob Doucette of Bridgton Academy, assistant coach of the Maine all-stars, "was that we don't know very much. The way we play soccer in this country would make an Englishman sick, I'm afraid. But the experience, the pure learning experience, was worth a million."
No sports pages anywhere reported the results, but Maine got beaten 5-3 by the Etter Beek Football Club of Brussels, then beat the British School of Brussels 1-0.
"We were lucky in the first one," Doucette noted, with a certain acceptance of fate, "and, come to think of it, we were lucky in the second one, too."
Then came a succession of defeats at scores of 6-0, 11-2, 5-3, 6-0 and the like in Britain.
Even so, Doucette rationalized, "We learned a great deal about kicking, passing and trapping. The thing that improved most was the ball-control skills. The British are just tremendous at this. They do things with a ball like our best basketball guards. At the end of those clinics [the boys had five days of clinics under six top coaches] we had some players who were hurting and some deflated egos. There were a couple of our guys who went over thinking they were pretty good. You can imagine the letdown."
Now, as part of soccer's Great Leap Forward in Maine, the master schedule calls for the Mainers to be ready to beat the English by 1981, in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown.
STRAINED RELATIONS REPAIRED
The crisis was rather different from what Lamar Hunt, owner of the Dallas Tornado soccer team, expected when he dashed up to the hotel room of Lev Deriougin, president of the Moscow Dynamo team. About to conduct the Russians on a tour of Dallas, Hunt had been told that Deriougin had had "an accident in his room."
He found Deriougin sitting in his underwear, a victim of American room service—which until this moment, even at its worst, had never been as bad as Russian room service. He had sent a pair of pants to the cleaner's—the only pair he had for a three-week stay in the U.S.—and when they came back the buttons were missing (the kind of buttons that button up the front of a man's pants, a Russian invention).
Hunt dispatched a police-escorted car to the cleaner's and soon had his show back on the road.
Dynamo played without four of its stars, who had been dispatched to Munich, and the game ended in a scoreless tie.
THEY SAID IT
•Upton Bell, New England Patriots' general manager, whose roster includes graduates of Yale, Colgate, Dartmouth and Princeton: "When some guys come in to talk contract, I may be reading a paperback. When those guys come in I'm reading Dostoevski."
•Al Conover, new Rice football coach, explaining his background: "I have a master's degree. The subject of my thesis was 'What college done for me."
•Selita Sue Smith, who will be Purdue's Golden Girl for Boilermaker football games for the fourth consecutive year: "I've been getting ostracized by the Women's Lib types at Purdue. They say I'm exploited, but I don't think so. As I see it, I'm not going to wear a sequined suit for the rest of my life, so why not enjoy it while I can?"