Emprise, the Jacobs brothers corporation that runs concessions at sports arenas around the country and often lends money to sports organizations (SI, May 29), is under direct attack in Wisconsin. The state's attorney general has challenged the legality of the beer license granted Wisconsin Sportservice, an Emprise subsidiary, at Milwaukee County Stadium on the grounds that state law requires each officer and director of a firm holding such a license to be a citizen of Wisconsin. The Sportservice officers listed are Jeremy, Max, L. D. and G. B. Jacobs, all residents of New York state. Others dispute the attorney general's view, contending the stadium is exempt from the law because it is technically a restaurant.
The implication of the challenge is considerable. Emprise has used large long-term loans to cement its business relationship with various sports organizations. The Milwaukee Brewers, for instance, who play in County Stadium, have a loan of more than $2 million from Emprise. The money was loaned to the ball club when it was still in Seattle and Emprise received a 25-year concessions contract in return. When the franchise was transferred to Milwaukee in 1970 the new owners assumed both loan and contract. They also borrowed an additional $500,000 from Sportservice, although that loan has since been substantially reduced. But the Brewers are concerned about the status of the earlier, larger loan if Sportservice is forced out of County Stadium. And there is also a question of how amenable the Jacobses will be about future loans to sports organizations if their concessions contracts cannot be guaranteed.
While controversy over the use of artificial turf on football fields continues to simmer, complaints are now being heard about synthetic surfaces used for basketball. Jack Hartman, Kansas State basketball coach, is so exercised by ankle injuries his players have suffered on K State's Tartan playing surface that he has talked about reinstalling the old wooden court. "There is obviously more traction on the new floor than on the old one," Hartman says. He suspects the abrupt stops on the court are causing the ankle injuries. Athletic Director Ernie Barrett says, "It definitely does not have the slippage you get on wood. It kind of grabs. It's partly because special shoes for synthetic courts have not been developed as rapidly as special football shoes have been for artificial turf."
February 5, 1973
A new way to stimulate a horse's performance in a race, and an apparently legal one, is to put rubber plugs in the animal's ears. Swedish harness horse trainers in France are experimenting with the idea. A lightweight cord is attached to the plugs, and when the horse comes into the stretch the cord is pulled. The plugs pop out, the horse suddenly hears the roar of the crowd and, because of fright or excitement, surges forward. Some trainers claim an unplugged horse can gain half a length on its rivals down the stretch.
Bettors will not be impressed. One can imagine a disgruntled loser muttering, "The bum pulled the plug too soon."
PRO SHOW STILL GO
Criticism of the Pro Bowl as an unnecessary addendum to an already over-long football season led Tex Schramm of the Dallas Cowboys to suggest it be played before the preseason exhibition games begin. But with coaches afraid of players getting hurt and players objecting to even longer preseason practice than they have now, Schramm's suggestion seems to have little or no chance. And the Pro Bowl will not be dropped even though 1) the players are not wild about it (they like the honor of being picked but not the chore of playing in it), 2) as an artistic performance it is usually a flop and 3) as a gate attraction it is usually a bomb. But it is a big hit on TV, probably because it is the only show in town and football's last gasp until next season. Thus, it makes money, and because a good part of that money goes to the pension fund, the players will dutifully rally round and Super Sunday will continue to be followed a week later by the Anticlimax Bowl.
MITTY ON THE TEE
Even middle-aged men have adolescent daydreams of running back a Super Bowl kickoff for a touchdown or hitting a grand-slam home run in the World Series. What happened last week to a 44-year-old Californian named Bill Flowers was less melodramatic, but it was good enough.
Last year Flowers' 20-year-old daughter wrote to the Oakland Tribune's "Action Line" department asking for help in getting her golfing father invited to play in the Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur tournament. "I know it is hard to get an invitation," she said, "but I would like very much to see him play in it." She added that he was an excellent golfer, which was true. Flowers plays to a two handicap, has won his club championship six of the last eight years and won a fund-raising tournament for the U.S. Open by eight strokes.
Months went by. Then last November a letter came from Crosby himself saying he would see what he could do, and in December Flowers was officially invited. "I was in shock," he said. "It was a super feeling." The Walter Mitty experience did not end there. At the Crosby, Flowers found himself paired with Orville Moody, who but for a missed short putt would have won the tournament. Which meant that last Sunday Bill Flowers, the club golfer, was on nationwide television. What a shame he could not somehow have been home at the same time to watch himself.
THEY SAID IT
•Steve Carlton, Philadelphia Phillie pitching star, who was signed by General Manager Paul Owens for a reported $165,000: "I'd have played for nothing, but Paul insisted I take something."
•Marvin Barnes, Providence College center, on what it would mean to beat UCLA: "You beat those guys and you've beaten history, an institution and the gods. You're famous for life."