ROZELLE AT BAY
The dispute between NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and Players Association Executive Director Ed Garvey over testing players for evidence of drugs is slightly more complicated than whether or not a man should be asked to urinate in a bottle. For one thing, detection of drugs by urinalysis is neither simple nor foolproof, as anyone who has worked in such a program will concede. For another, the players feel they should have been consulted on the drug problem and how to cope with it; unilateral imposition of an inspection program by the owners makes it appear that all players are suspect and must be policed.
Beyond that—and more important, really—is the simple matter of power politics. Rozelle, a superior administrator during his years as NFL commissioner, has been sniped at recently by owners, some of whom feel he is not as stern with the help as he should be. Giving in to Garvey, or even inviting the players to help establish a drug-detection program, could jeopardize his position as absolute czar of the sport and possibly turn him into another Bowie Kuhn, a sort of super publicity man without real power.
Rozelle feels, with considerable justification, that he has been a very able commissioner whose decisions have benefited both owners and players, and he is fighting to reestablish his authority over both.
July 1, 1973
LITTLE RED SHIRTS
An investigation into a Pennsylvania school district by a state authority has raised a question about redshirting of pre-high school football players. Auditor General Robert P. Casey said the probe of the Mount Carmel Area School District was "inconclusive" but he recommended that certain steps be taken to make sure redshirting did not occur, which seems a classic bit of where-there's-smoke-there's-fire reasoning. State law says a boy entering ninth grade has only four years of athletic eligibility, yet Mount Carmel had a rather high percentage of 12th-grade football players who were in their 13th year of schooling. This apparent contradiction of the law was valid because the boys had been left back, or "retained," in the eighth grade, before their years of eligibility began. The state audit noted that in one group of 14 football players so retained, all had better than fair marks, the lowest grade average being 81.
However, deliberate redshirting by athletic officials was not charged. Indeed, it was found that some parents had requested that their sons repeat the eighth grade, ostensibly so that at graduation from high school they would be a year older and thus more mature socially, mentally—and physically.
The trouble with eight-oared crews, suggests a letter to Technology Review, is that everybody rows together. You know—the coxswain crying his "Stroke, stroke, stroke," and the boat leaping ahead as the eight men dig their oars into the water simultaneously.
Ben Drisko of Camden, Maine feels this may be wrong, that rowing in unison imposes a "large alternating component" on the "constant component" of forward velocity. Go-and-stop rowing, in other words. Eliminating the alternating or stop component, Drisko argues, could increase the direct or go component. That is, if the eight oars each entered the water at a different time, the boat would have a more constant forward impetus and a greater sustained speed.
Instead of a slow "Stroke, stroke, stroke" call, the cox could count rapidly and repetitively from one to eight over a period of, say, two seconds. Each oarsman would start his stroke when he hears his number. Thus, the oars would dip into the water at quarter-second intervals and the last man's stroke would be rhythmically followed by the first man's next stroke, with no arresting interval.
Drisko says it might be fun to experiment with this idea. He might also noodle around on his drawing board and see if he can come up with something to replace the cox, whose voice is going to become a non-functioning component about a third of the way down the course.
LIFE FOLLOWS ART AGAIN
You may recall the fun some of our readers had in making up names for a proposed European professional football league (the London Bridges, the Warsaw Concertos, the Nice Guys). This one is real. The new Southern Hockey League expects to have a team in Georgia called the Macon Whoopees.
THE CIRCLED SQUARE
Such a week. Staggered rowers are not enough, now we get round boxing rings. Marv Jenson, who managed former middleweight champion Gene Fullmer, has devised a perfectly round ring (an almost round, octagonal one was tried some years ago) and is trying to get it patented. "I have always been worried about the safety of boxers," Jenson says. "I was the one who came up with the idea of four ropes instead of the traditional three. When I saw Benny Paret trapped between the top two ropes and takings such a beating that he died, I knew we had to make a change. The round ring is another safety idea. No longer can a fighter be pinned and punished in a corner. And it will make for more action."
Instead of the standard 18' by 18' square, Jenson's ring has a 20' diameter, although it can be made bigger or smaller. The circle—the four "ropes" are actually tubing covered with a foam rubber material—looks distinctly larger than the square, but looks deceive. "It's an optical illusion," says Jenson. "The 18' by 18' ring has 324 square feet of space. This one has 314 square feet."
One minor problem remains. How do you introduce the fighters? "In this arc, wearing purple trunks..."?
Every year Leon Greenberg, the ebullient head of New York's Monticello Raceway, swoops down out of the Catskills with a new idea to promote harness racing. One year he instituted superfecta wagering, then got a man on a bicycle to race a horse, and now he has decided Monticello needs rock 'n' roll music.
Greenberg, sometimes referred to as the P.T. Barnum of the Borscht Belt, goes all out in his promotions—last week he brought a trotter appropriately named Sound of Music to Central Park's Tavern on the Green for lunch and a performance by a rock group called The Disciples—but his reasoning is valid. So far, no track in the country, thoroughbred or harness, has been able to get the young crowd interested, and yet new blood is what horse racing needs. "In some ways," says Greenberg, "racetracks have become old-age homes. I'm trying to prevent that by merging entertainment and sports. And, of course, I'm hoping this will help cure the economic ills."
It is an expensive hope. Monticello has invested almost $100,000 in a summer schedule featuring 13 groups, including Ike and Tina Turner, Blood, Sweat and Tears, the Everly Brothers, Chubby Checker and Jay and The Americans. Performances will take place before the races start. "I'm the biggest square in the Catskills," Greenberg admitted, "but if rock is what will get the young to the track, then I'm betting rock and racing are here to stay."
ANY NUMBER CAN PLAY
Teddy Brenner, the Madison Square Garden boxing matchmaker, said (SI, June 18), "I see that the World Boxing Council has rated Joe Roman No. 10. That's terrible. They can rate anybody they want.... The World Boxing Association is just as bad. Now when I put on a fight, I say the guy is rated No. 3, or No. 5. Who rates them? Me. Hell, I'm more qualified than a bunch of politicians."
Last week the qualified Brenner went boldly beyond No. 3 and No. 5 and announced plans to create an entire new set of champions. Pointing out that only two world boxing championships are currently held by Americans and implying that we deserved something, Brenner said a series of upcoming bouts would produce U.S. champions in each of boxing's eight major divisions.
Newspaper stories about Brenner's plan for instant champions had barely time to be wrapped around the night's fish before Abe J. Greene, New Jersey's boxing head, got his state into the act. Greene announced that the winner of last Saturday's fight between Ernie Terrell and Chuck Wepner would be declared the new U.S. heavyweight champion. (George Foreman, the world titleholder, would not be American champion, despite his flag.) To prove it, Greene increased the number of rounds the Terrell-Wepner bout was scheduled to go from 10 to 12. What more could you ask? Particularly since other prefight publicity had revealed to a waiting world that Wepner was already the New Jersey state champion. Wepner's disputed victory in the fight thus made him champion of the United States and New Jersey, a title anyone would be proud to have.
Some people say American boxing has deteriorated, but everywhere you look there are champions.
Bobby Fischer was supposed to have destroyed Boris Spassky's psyche in their famous chess match last summer, but now Fischer is in hiding, shying away from publicity and refusing to play chess, while Spassky has emerged apparently serene and well-adjusted. The London Sunday Times reports that Spassky says there is no chance of another match between him and Fischer before the end of 1975. "Our chess authorities in Russia are against it, and they are right," he says. "I'm not at all satisfied with the quality of my game. I'm still suffering from depression. It's quite normal; every chess player has it.
"Another thing is that I know my best chance of beating Fischer is by going through the qualifying rounds like the other challengers. There'll be eight of us, and of course I may not win. But if I do, I'll have the right impetus and morale. To beat a new world champion you have to be in the right spirit. You have to be sure inside that you've beaten all the others and that now is the time to knock the eagle off his perch."
As for Fischer's withdrawal into himself, Spassky observes, "I said a longtime ago that Bobby was going to be a very unhappy man. He has terrible problems. He is afraid of people. He thinks they're getting at him. And he has this need to be admired and worshiped. He needs to build a monument to himself.
"As well as this, he has his after-the-match depression, like I do. It all makes a strong cocktail and it's bound to have a bad effect on his chess. It'll be a long time before he's able to pull himself together.
"If we play in 1975 the position will be the reverse of 1972. He'll have had three years of troubles, and I'll have had three years of chess."
AWAKE AND SWING
A 23-year-old Michigan golfer with the rather splendid name of Chip Iceberg was scheduled to play a first-round match in the state amateur golf tournament at 8:24 a.m. on June 21, but he slept through his starting time and the match began without him. By the time he got to the course his opponent was on the 4th tee, an automatic three up. Iceberg jumped into action and managed to even the match, but eventually lost, 3 and 2.
This would hardly be an unusual story, except that Iceberg did precisely the same thing two years ago at the same course. He did not arrive then until he was four holes down, and he was eliminated that time, too.
"It's embarrassing," Iceberg said. "I'm getting paranoid about it."
THEY SAID IT
•John Schlee, U.S. Open runner-up, on how he likes living in Texas: "It's great. Texans have a lot of state pride. You don't hear anybody coming up and saying, 'Hi, I'm from Pennsylvania,' do you?"
•Bill Zeigler, Texas Ranger trainer, on the ethyl chloride he and others of his profession spray on wounded athletes: "I'm not sure it has much value, but I've reached the point where I think the public would think I'm incompetent if I didn't take it with me whenever I go on the field."
•Bob Addie, Washington sportswriter, on why he would not issue a Bobby Riggs-type challenge to his wife, former tennis champion Pauline Betz: "She could beat me carrying a bucket of sand in one hand."