AWFUL OR LAWFUL?
A suit to force the National Football League to lift the local television blackout of the Super Bowl game in Los Angeles on Jan. 14 was denied by Superior Court Judge David N. Eagleson last week. The NFL has said that if all tickets are sold 10 days before the game, there will be a local telecast. The plaintiffs argued that there should be no "sellout" clause at all because a blackout discriminated against Los Angeles football fans. The judge held that before a violation of the equal-protection clause of the Constitution can be claimed, "You have to have a primary right that is being impinged upon. The only right here is to get a television program piped into your house, and I don't think that is a constitutional right."
He also held that NBC was within its rights in going along with NFL policy, and he said he could not lift the blackout just to provide entertainment for local people. "The NFL has designed a product with enormous public interest," said Judge Eagleson. "The NFL and the team owners have a right to merchandise the product in any lawful way they deem appropriate."
And a blackout, he decided, was lawful.
One of the fringe benefits of playing for the Houston Oilers is listening to Coach Bill Peterson, who does things with the language that have not been heard since Casey Stengel was in his prime. After Miami's Jim Kiick and Larry Csonka ran all over his team, Peterson explained, "We just weren't compared for their backfield." Discussing strategy, he said, "We're changing our floormat this week." Of a limping player, "He has a chronicle knee injury." Of the Oakland Raiders: "That Oakland is tough. They timidate your offense, they timidate your defense, they even timidate the officials."
He has said, "This is the crutch of the problem" and "Things are going bad, but we've got to keep our cools." In training camp, he told his squad, "We're all in this together, and don't you remember it." He also spoke of the team's goal for the year: "Men, I want you thinking of just one word all season. One word and only one word: Super Bowl!" And in the waning minutes of a game with Denver, he proclaimed. "Don't you guys think for a minute that I'm going to take this loss standing down."
One day, reflecting on all the problems a coach has in handling the various personalities among his players, Peterson confessed, "Sometimes I feel like that psychiatrist, Frood."
A team of researchers at Brigham Young University wired two members of BYU's football coaching staff to study their heart rates during games. The purpose of the tests, the researchers said, was to determine the extent of cardiovascular stress caused by vicarious involvement. As everyone knows, your heart can be seriously affected by external stimuli, even if you are not engaged in strenuous physical activity.
The two coaches, Dewey Warren and Dick Felt, were first asked to run in place on a treadmill for as long as they could to determine their maximal heart rates. This allowed the researchers to determine later how close to the maximum the coaches' heart rates came under the stress of watching a game. Electrodes attached to the chest were connected to a small transmitter that sent signals to a receiver. The heartbeats were recorded along with a play-by-play report of the game, so that there would be a precise correspondence of heartbeat with up-and-down moments on the field.
The results? Well, no matter how stolid and controlled a coach appears to be during a game, his heart is going pit-a-pat. In key situations, the heart rate jumped to more than 80% of the maximum achieved during the exhausting run on the treadmill, and during a BYU loss to Arizona State, Dewey Warren's soared to 90%.
The researchers say coaches should undergo careful physical examinations and then follow a strict training program in order to attain a fitness level that will let them withstand the rigors of watching a quarterback throw a fourth-quarter interception or a safety man fumble a punt on his own five.
DREAMS OF GLORY
American boys used to dream of growing up like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or maybe even Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. But Chuck Smith, a 12-year-old running back and linebacker for the Olde Providence Pee Wee team in Charlotte, N.C., says he wants to grow up like Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears.
"I want to be like Butkus," he says. "I've liked linebackers ever since I saw him play on TV. When I was little, I used to watch him a lot. I got the idea of playing football then."
Chuck also likes Dale Lindsey, middle linebacker of the Cleveland Browns, but that may be because Lindsey is a distant relative. He thinks Butkus is meaner looking; even though Lindsey may hit as hard—and hitting hard is why Chuck enjoys being a linebacker.
"I like to hit the quarterbacks hard enough so they have to sit out the rest of the game," he says. "I don't like the other teams' running backs. They're little, and when they get around the end it makes me really mad and I hit 'em all over the field."
BACK AND FORTH
Charlie Morrison coaches soccer and hockey at Mount Allison University in eastern Canada. Coaches who handle two sports sometimes run into schedule conflicts when seasons overlap, but few ever get into the bind Morrison did one recent weekend. On Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. he was with his soccer team in Antigonish, Nova Scotia for a collegiate tournament. It took two 15-minute overtime periods to do it, but Mount Allison won 3-2 to become eligible for the championship game on Sunday. While his soccer players rested Saturday night, Morrison got into his car and drove 180 miles to Moncton, New Brunswick, where his hockey team was playing in another tournament. It lost 4-3, but only after two more overtime periods. Morrison got into his car and drove back to Antigonish. There, on Sunday, the soccer team brightened the peripatetic coach's travels by winning the championship 3-2. Too bad about the hockey team, but it was probably just as well. If they had won Saturday night they would have had to play again on Sunday, and it is a question whether Morrison or his car could have made it.
FULL COURT TACKLE
The Philadelphia Bulletin's Alan Rich-man, sentenced to cover the basketball 76ers (who lost their first 15 and 21 of their first 22 games), brightened the sports pages last week with an All-NBA football team, based on a poll of 76er players. Richman figured a team that has kicked away as many games as the 76ers should know a lot about football.
Most of the players were serious in their selections, although one anonymous voter listed the entire Philadelphia team as a suicide squad. He also picked Elvin Hayes of the Baltimore Bullets as quarterback because "he'd call his own play every time." The Most Valuable Player in NBA football apparently would be Dave Cowens of the Boston Celtics, picked as middle linebacker. "He's vicious," said one 76er. "He blocks your shots and then dives on top of you." Bob Dandridge of the Milwaukee Bucks received support as wide receiver because "he runs the down-and-out pattern in the Milwaukee offense." And Wilt Chamberlain was picked to hold the ball on all placekick attempts. "You'd never center the ball over his head," said a voter.
Here are the final selections. Considering that basketball players are generally recognized as better athletes than football players, and considering the size and speed of some of these men, maybe it wouldn't be a bad football team at that:
I LEFT MY HEART IN OAKLAND
On one side of San Francisco Bay is dull, stolid Oakland. On the other is glamorous San Francisco. For years Oakland was San Francisco's joke town (like Brooklyn for New York and Peoria for Chicago). Sophisticated San Franciscans liked to quote Gertrude Stein when the subject of Oakland came up: "There is no there there."
But with Oakland's determined rise in sports, San Francisco is growing uneasy. Oakland has the world championship A's, the conference-leading Raiders. It has taken the Warriors, it has the Seals. And now—this one really hurts—the sixth annual Cable Car Classic, San Francisco's annual collegiate basketball tournament, will be played in the Oakland Coliseum Arena this year.
Cable Car Classic? In Oakland? Next thing you know they'll be calling it Oakland Bay.
After Lee Trevino was fined $700 for abruptly quitting the Sahara Invitational at Las Vegas and another $150 for criticizing officials for not enforcing rules about slow play, the voluble golfer offered some suggestions to help pick up the turtlelike pace of most tournaments. The most workable of his ideas seems to be one that would stop tour golfers from crossing to the far side of the green to line up putts.
"There would be a saving of at least 30 seconds for every play, or a minute and a half for a threesome," Trevino said. "Multiply that by 18 holes and you've cut almost half an hour from the playing time of each threesome."
Trevino conceded that he has been guilty of circling the hole to study the break of the green but claimed, "I always do it in a hurry." To arguments that his proposal would have an adverse effect on putting, he said, "Not at all. If a golfer can't read the green from where his ball lies he doesn't have any business playing on the tour."
THEY SAID IT
•Errol Mann, Detroit Lion placekicker, asked if he was tough enough to help in tackling the ballcarrier on kickoff returns: "Tough enough? Shoot, I barrel through there and knock those runners right on my fanny."
•Bob Schwalbenberg, only member of New York University's wrestling team, which was depleted by transfers and graduations: "I get lonely at practice. I am going to have to get the school to buy me a tackling dummy so I'll have something to compete against."
•Dave Herman, New York Jet guard with nine years experience in pro football, on what he would consider a good draft by the Jets: "Every February I take a look at the players the Jets have drafted, and if I see there are no guards among them, then I consider that a real good draft."
Jo Jo White
Norm Van Lier
Captain, Suicide Sq.