THE WHITED SEPULCHER
For Avery Brundage the dismissal of Rhodesia from the Olympic Games was a crushing defeat. His beloved International Olympic Committee abandoned principle and bowed to political pressure, and this just as Brundage was announcing his retirement as president of the IOC.
Some say Brundage was the only one to come out of the affair untarnished, for he did personally hold against surrender of principle. The IOC as a whole showed it was as sleazily expedient as any opportunistic government. The Rhodesians had cynically accepted a compromise that made them ignore the fact of their independence, then failed to live up to the compromise. The black Africans, by using the boycott threat, now have made pressure politics an integral part of the Olympic scene.
Against this sorry lot Brundage looked good. But the truth is Avery and his hallowed predecessors brought the trouble on themselves. For decades they boasted that the Olympic movement was above politics. Yet every four years the Olympics have pandered to national pride and arrogance. The raising of flags, the playing of hymns, the marching of athletes in team uniform behind a national flag has been a great show, but it has emphasized political divisions. When Josy Barthel of tiny Luxembourg won the 1,500 meters at the 1952 Games, Brundage crowed, "As far as Luxembourg is concerned, Luxembourg has won the Olympics." A sentimental thought, but one that fired the passions of national pride.
September 3, 1972
If the IOC really wanted to keep politics out of the Olympics, flags and anthems would be barred, national Olympic committees would be dissolved and athletes would appear as individuals. Regional qualifications would allow the fine competitors from Luxembourg and Malagasy and Guatemala and Thailand to make their way to the center of the world. But the IOC ignores the possibility of a truly apolitical Olympics because it relies on the economic support of the governments that sponsor national teams as emblems of national pride. Brundage wanted representation at the Games, and to get it he went along with governmental control of Olympic athletes while piously protesting political interference.
You can't have your cake and eat it, Avery. When you accept nationalism, you get politics. And under the present Olympic structure, we are never going to get rid of it.
SERVE AND VOLLEY
The Davis Cup final between the U.S. and Rumania will be played in Bucharest in mid-October—probably. That is precisely where everyone assumed it would be held until one of the executive officers of the USLTA, who happened to be studying the fine print in new cup rules, discovered that the U.S., not Rumania, should be the home team. That launched a hectic and, as it developed, brief search for a site. Charlotte, N.C. was out because it was host to another tournament, but Dallas was a possibility, and so was Los Angeles. Before anything could be decided, though, Ilie Nastase and Ion Tiriac solved the problem by saying that if the final were played anywhere but in Bucharest, they would not play. Dennis Ralston, the U.S. cup captain, countered with a "Let them forfeit, that's great with me," but the USLTA finally decided to let the angry Rumanians have their way. And so Bucharest it is, Oct. 13-15. As of now.
WHY NOT USE FIRECRACKERS?
Airline precautions against skyjacking, such as they are, now have had their effect on professional football.
Mike Lynn, president of Mid-South Sports, which promotes pro football exhibitions in Memphis, has received a letter from Mel Hin, the supervisor of officials for the National Football League.
"Members of our officiating staff are not permitted to carry on any aircraft blank starter pistol types that are used by our line judges to shoot ending quarters of a game.
"Would you kindly borrow a .22 or .32 caliber pistol with six blank shells from a local official or school for the preseason game scheduled in your city on Sept. 2?
"The pistol should be presented to the line judge one hour before game time in the officials' dressing room. You in turn should have someone pick it up after the game."
TREES' LIB MOVEMENT
Only God can make a tree, but in the opinion of gun fanciers even He doesn't make them quite right.
So every year a group of men move into the walnut groves to beat the younger trees with lead pipes, two-by-fours and stout clubs. The beatings leave scars, the scars form burls, and burls in gun-stocks are highly prized by lovers of fine rifles and shotguns.
A protest movement against cruelty to walnut trees is forming here and there. One of the leaders in the movement is Lydel Sims, Memphis Commercial Appeal columnist.
"A sap-stirring switching, for the tree's own good, is one thing, mayhem is another," he observed. "Nobody wants to be called a tree-coddler, but how long can we go on allowing innocent walnut trees to be mauled for the pleasure of gun collectors?"
TIPS FOR THE TOTS
Winston Churchill might have considered himself a kindred spirit of Edsel Martz, a crusty former catcher who tells players on his sandlot team that they must "sweat, bleed and fight." Martz is also a major league scout and conducts a baseball camp for boys in Arlington, Va.
He has just come out with Baseball Tips, a 42-page booklet, and from the 70 tips on infield play: "A bruise on your body will disappear. One yellow stain on your heart will never disappear in your mind and the minds of those that saw you lose courage. Pay the price."
Tip No. 32 on batting: "Develop emotional maturity. You won't get a hit every time. Like when the monkey kissed the porcupine, learn to take the good with the bad."
The 40th item in the base-running chapter: "If caught in a pickle, fight hard to get out safely. Don't quit, you're a long way from out. Dumb plays sometimes turn out to the great advantage of the dummy."
The printer who made up the application form for the old catcher's school made a typographical error that caught no one's eye until it was too late. "The boy will make terrific progress," the form read, "because it is four hours of hostile, positive and aggressive instruction."
"I wrote 'hustle' but the printer misread it as 'hostile,' " Martz said. "I'm not going to change it."
COME WEST, YOUNG MAN
In his after-dinner talks Bob Devaney likes to say, "There are 800 million Chinese who don't give a damn what happens to Nebraska on a Saturday afternoon." He is probably right. But there is one Japanese teen-ager who does care.
The university has received a letter from Hirotashi Tsuzinaka, an Osaka 17-year-old, addressed to "Football Players of Nebraska University, Board of Education, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA."
"I know that Nebraska University is the best strong in university of America," wrote Hirotashi. "I think it will be wonderful for young people in the world to exchange letters by sports with one another. And I know that Nebraska University won Alabama 38 to 6 Saturday."
Hirotashi admitted that he is a bit small for one who might aspire to tackle the Huskers. "I'm a 5-8 and weigh 130 pound," he explained. "I am rather short for football player. Please teach me about your football. I wish youd write back to me so that we could get friendship between us. So long for now."
Bill Janssen, defensive tackle, volunteered to correspond with Hirotashi, who also will soon receive a packet of Big Red souvenirs.
The idea of a true World Series in baseball has been something normally thought of only in futuristic terms. Spatially, of course, such a Series would be only one jet air flight away so that the best United States teams could play those from Japan or Taiwan or whatever. Now—starting Sept. 10 at Honolulu Stadium in Hawaii—baseball will come closer to such a concept when five teams begin a 10-game, seven-day round-robin tournament to determine which is the best minor league team extant.
Champions of the Triple A Pacific Coast League, American Association and International League will go to Hawaii to play in the Kodak World Baseball Classic against the host PCL Islanders and an All-Star team composed of Latin players who participate regularly in the Caribbean winter leagues. In subsequent years the sponsors hope to include teams from Japan as well as Mexico and Europe and play the tournament in Caracas, Mexico City and Japan. This time neither Japan nor Mexico is available because the Japanese season ends later than our World Series and the Mexican season ends much too early.
Situating the games in Hawaii appears perfect because the Islanders in recent years have drawn as many as 385,000 fans a season to a park once known as "Termite Palace." The players will receive 30% of the gate receipts, and with the Islanders certain to be playing early and with attention building as the round-robin progresses, the World Baseball Classic should draw a lot of people to an area that by 1973 is going to build a $30 million, Astro-Turfed, double-deck stadium seating 50,000. The hope is to lure, or win by expansion, major league baseball and football franchises.
Last week Commissioner Bowie Kuhn said, "The Classic has the complete support of the major leagues. What is developing in baseball today is an international atmosphere, not only in Japan and Taiwan but in Europe as well. I think baseball is going to be added to the Olympic schedule very soon and I will forecast—and not too bravely at that—that this is the start of baseball's future." Amateur or professional baseball, Bowie?
It is customary for prizefighters to 1) make gentlemanly statements about their opponents or 2) deride their opponents or 3) say nothing so long as it is calculated to build up the gate.
But Jerry Quarry, the retired heavyweight contender, no longer has an interest in building up gates for anything but a rock group known as Three Dog Night, which he is publicizing. Therefore, his expressed opinions about Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali may be presumed to come from the heart:
"Frazier, in my opinion, is illiterate. He's just a stupid person. I have no respect for him, other than fighting ability. He's a very obstinate person, particularly when he's around other fighters. He continually has to impress upon you that he's the big man.
"On the other hand, Ali is congenial, relaxed, easygoing, very intelligent and very popular with the people who know him. All this other stuff, like, 'I'm the greatest,' is bull, strictly promotional. He's a very nice guy.
"The first time they fought I wanted Frazier to win. I picked Frazier to win. But then I got to know both of them very well, found out what kind of people they were. If and when they fight again I hope Ali kicks the hell out of him. I think he will, too. Frazier's not the same fighter he was. Ali could make him look like a real jackass if they get back in the ring together."
Quarry really does know both fighters well. Frazier defeated him once, Ali twice.
THEY SAID IT
•Jim Bouton, ex-pitcher, ex-author, TV announcer, whose newest career is acting, on how he got into the movies: "Well, I was sitting at a soda fountain one day in a tight-fitting sweater and...."
•Gerry Cheevers, former Boston Bruin goalie now with the Cleveland Crusaders, on being asked how he was doing in a golf tournament: "I'm one under—one under a tree, one under a rock, one under a bush, one under...."