HIGH COST OF PLAYING
Athletes do eat rather more heartily than most of us and the effect, complicated by soaring food costs and other inflationary factors, is beginning to tell on college sports budgets. In particular, athletic directors at Penn State, Pitt, Dickinson and Bucknell are concerned, especially since Department of Agriculture officials in Washington have indicated that food prices will increase 10% overall for 1973, the biggest jump since 11% was posted in 1951.
Penn State submitted its 1973-74 food budget for athletics in February. Now it must amend its estimates. "Not only are food costs going up, but hotel prices, equipment and everything else associated with athletics is continuing to rise," Edward M. Czekaj, State's athletic director, explained. "Without our TV or bowl game income we would be in a deficit financial position right now."
Last year Penn State's training-table costs for varsity sports was $77,400, an increase of $7,400 over the previous year. The figure did not include food expenses on the road.
"With the rising cost factor I think you'll see most of the small colleges returning to intramural and club sports," Czekaj predicted. "I don't see how they can survive with varsity sports."
Robert A. Latour, Bucknell's athletic director, advanced the suggestion that small colleges near Bucknell enter into a cooperative program for the purchase of meat, which could be bought more cheaply in quantity and then stored in freezers.
"There are ways to try and keep costs down," Latour said. "For instance, for a game against Colgate we could leave at 5 o'clock on a Friday instead of 3:30. This would allow us to have the evening meal at home, rather than pay hotel prices."
In the somber opinion of Casimir Myslinski, athletic director at Pitt, smaller colleges will be "forced to chop some sports programs." "One morning they'll wake up and find they have more intramural sports than varsity and revert strictly to intramural programs," he said.
"PLAY THE FIFE LOWLY"
It's a rare sports movie that nets a nickel for Hollywood, largely because it is so difficult, the moviemakers think, to make a woman an interesting figure in a picture about a fight, a football game, or most especially a baseball season. Yet, female interest or no, good sports movies are possible. Requiem for a Heavyweight comes to mind and so does Golden Boy. There have been others.
Now there is one more. It is called Bang the Drum Slowly, based on Mark Harris' novel about a baseball catcher who is dying of Hodgkin's disease but persists in playing out his season. No one will admit that he is dying, least of all the catcher. In due course others learn of his sickness and rally to protect him, to prolong, for no matter how short a time, his participation in the sport he loves.
It sounds sentimental and, of course, it is. But the movie treats it all with wonderful restraint. Nothing sloppy intrudes. It will be well worth seeing when it comes your way this summer.
THERE'S GOLD IN THEM WHEELS
Mike Maaranen of the Amateur Bicycle League of America is considered an expert in cycling bylaws and is certified to act as the final rules authority at meets all over the world. He is not unlike many amateur officials, however, who turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the professionalism that abounds in their particular sports.
"Our rules are tied to the International Olympic Committee, like those of most other amateur sports, and we are bound to at least say we enforce them whether we do or not," says Maaranen. "It is quite obvious to everyone that the rules are being broken. Prize money is given, expense money is given, athletes are subsidized by governments. To me an amateur is someone who doesn't make a living from his sport. But even by that standard there are five or six riders in each of the 10 or 12 top cycling countries who probably wouldn't qualify."
Maaranen says the International Cycling Union will act against professionalism "only when it is forced to. Besides, no one has anything to gain by making a big issue of the undercover stuff, because everyone is involved. The only mandatory penalty is a 30-day suspension."
Amateur cycling rules allow room, board, transportation and a modest per diem ($5 a day at the recent Grand Prix of the United States), but cash prizes and appearance money are supposed to be no-no's. In reality, the top cyclists can make several hundred dollars just by showing up at a big meet, and several wins might put their take in four figures. Even at that, no amateur cyclist is getting rich. "It's money for a stereo or something like that," says one Olympic gold medalist, "not anything you could live off of year-round."
TRAIL OF THE GRAIL
One of the oldest of sporting trophies is hockey's Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup, which goes back to 1893. In prestige it ranks with the Davis Cup, first presented in 1900, and those horse racing trophies, the Woodlawn Vase and the Queen's Plate, both first presented in 1860.
Recently a $25,000 replica of the Stanley Cup has been transported from Toronto to Chicago to Montreal and back to Chicago in the custody of Maurice (Lefty) Reid, curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Even the replica (the original is securely ensconced in the Hall of Fame in Toronto) is a treasure and Reid carted it about in the trunk of his automobile as the playoffs progressed. Safer there, he says.
"I don't fly it," Reid explains, "because I feel more certain when it's in my car. Baggage gets lost too often on airplanes for my liking. I like to know where it is at all times."
There was sometimes a bit of difficulty at the U.S.-Canadian border.
"If the customs officials were hockey fans, I got through in a few minutes," Reid said. "If not, it could take up to three quarters of an hour. It makes a difference whether it's going into a country to stay, for presentation, or just for a few days. It can send the customs men leafing through their book for quite some time." Reid's system was sound. The cup was on hand in Chicago when Montreal won it Thursday night.
Another hockey trophy, the World Cup—donated by Avco Corporation to the World Hockey Association—was not present when the New England Whalers defeated the Winnipeg Jets for the WHA championship at Boston Garden. It is still being built. So Ted Green, Whaler defenseman and captain, had to parade around the Garden ice with the unnamed cup given to the Whalers when they won the divisional championship.
There are anglers of means who rent planes and fly to faraway places to charter fast boats and expensive guides in search of record fish in virgin waters. Rick Wotring, a young junior high school phys ed teacher in St. Petersburg, Fla., does not have that kind of money.
What he has is an open 16-foot boat he built himself and tackle that Abercrombie & Fitch would not deign to sell. What he also has is probably a world-record tarpon—218 pounds of fighting fury that is 7'1" long and measures 44 inches around the midsection.
Wotring took his silver king in the busy channel of Tampa Bay. He was using 60-pound-test line, and for bait had a pin-fish that he had frozen after some futile efforts on the previous day. His tarpon jumped only twice, once clear out of the water and in plain sight of motorists on nearby Bayshore Boulevard. Wotring boated him in 40 minutes.
The International Game Fish Association said Wotring's prize is as yet an unofficial record for tarpon taken on 60- to 80-pound-test line, but when approved it will top a 214-pounder caught in 1953 off Lagos, Nigeria, which is a faraway place indeed.
Taxidermy costs being what they are, Wotring had a certain hesitancy about having his fish mounted. But Al Pflueger, eminent among taxidermists, offered him "a great price," and parents of kids he teaches are rounding up the money as a sort of appreciation for what he has done for their youngsters.
LET THEM EAT ICE CREAM
To celebrate National Nutrition Week, Indian schoolchildren of Bethel, Alaska have chipped in $500 to have a cow flown in from a dairy in Palmer, Alaska—the first cow ever to be seen in Bethel. The idea is to teach the kids to drink milk, or something.
The trouble with this notion is that most Alaskan Indians and Eskimos have had little or no experience with cow's milk and would seem to need none.
The Bethel project reminded an old Alaska hand, our own Dolly Connelly, of a similar experiment in the remote Siberian Eskimo village of Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island. Dolly got there just in time to observe the week's lessons in the village school. Subject: the seven basic foods and the vital necessity of including them in a proper nutritional program. Blackboards were covered with large pictures of fresh strawberries, oranges, butter, beef, eggs, asparagus, lettuce, carrots, whole grains and such stuff, plus instruction on how to milk a cow. The children were required to memorize the nutritional benefits of all these foods, though none of them had ever seen them or were likely to.
What they did and do eat are seabird eggs, gathered from cliffs of the Kookooligit Mountains in the nesting season, but all the rest of the foods were totally incomprehensible to children whose diet revolves seasonally around walrus meat, Arctic char, dried cormorants and puffins, seal grease, seaweeds and, for a brief season, sour, wild cranberries. No cow's milk.
Add swimming to your list of endangered Olympic species. If the IOC gets its way, swimming will be a watered-down affair at the 1976 Games, and there is even a possibility that there won't be any swimming at Montreal at all.
The International Olympic Swimming Committee and the International Swimming Federation (FINA) are at odds over the importance of swimming as an Olympic sport. The IOC wants to eliminate 12 events, and the Olympic committee in Montreal wants to reduce the seating capacity at the swim stadium to 5,000. FINA says, through its president, Dr. Harold Henning of Naperville, Ill., "We are discriminated against. We don't want to go backward. They haven't shown us that they are serious even about wanting us at the Olympics. I have indicated, and 600 coaches around the world agree with me, that we would rather pull out than give up a number of events."
Dr. Henning is planning to present a protest by FINA at a meeting of the executive committee of the IOC in Lausanne on June 23.
In 1936 the Germans seated 20,000 around the pool, but in Tokyo in 1964 the seating capacity was 18,000, in Mexico in 1968 it was 16,000, and in Munich last year it was about 10,000—with all seats sold out a year in advance. During the Games, tickets were scalped for as much as $200 apiece. Montreal's projected aquatic complex physically limits the seats to 5,000. "Swimming will just have to be happy with 5,000," Technical Director Pierre Charbonneau said.
THEY SAID IT
•Pete Newell, general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, asked if he would be interested in drafting some of the rugged Russian Olympic basketball players: "No, I don't think so, but the Rams might."
•Bob Waligunda, balloonist, on why he enjoys the sport: "Flying in a balloon is so totally irrelevant and beautiful. You don't know where you are going until you get there."
•Bob Hope, on Lamar Hunt's manifold sports interests: "Let's see, Lamar, you are big in football, tennis, basketball, and even soccer. Have you thought about marbles?"
•Joe Duff", Naval Academy baseball coach, on why he kept his selection of his team's pitcher secret for an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles: "If I had told one of our pitchers he would be pitching to Earl Williams, Boog Powell, Merv Rettenmund et al., he probably wouldn't have gotten any sleep the rest of the week."