HERE WE GO AGAIN
The Montreal Olympic Committee already has received more than 20,000 requests for tickets to the 1976 Games, but the director of spectator services, Maurice Forget, says they are all in vain. "We don't even have a seating plan for the main stadium," he says, "and we won't have one until sometime in the first quarter of 1974." Lest someone think Montreal is being terribly casual about this, Forget adds, "Traditionally, Olympic tickets have not been available until about a year before the Games."
When things are ready, an agency in each of the Olympic nations will be assigned to handle not only ticket sales but housing needs. This is the way Munich did it, and in some areas, notably Britain and the U.S., it created a rather loud stink. It may be the efficient way to deal with the situation in most countries, but in the major tourist powers it could lead to problems like those in 1972, when tickets and rooms for Munich seemed nonexistent for the casual fan without travel-agency ties.
Prices have not been established yet, but officials say it is hoped that "a lot of seats" will be in the $3 and $4 range. But for which sports?
The Chicago Cubs' annual summer swoon has inspired a disgruntled fan to suggest that the team move to the Philippines, where it could be called the Manila Folders.
The response of some gun enthusiasts to any effort to establish gun controls reached ridiculous heights in the campaign against, of all people, the Young Women's Christian Association. The YWCA's sin was in coming out for federal gun-control legislation, which does seem rather outside its normal sphere of activity. But if the YWCA's action appeared to be uncalled for, take a look at the other side. Overreacting, such groups as the National Rifle Association, the National Association of Sportsmen, the Northeastern State Council of Sportsmen and various conservation clubs all decided to boycott—what? The YWCA? No. They elected to boycott the United Fund, which includes the YWCA among the organizations to which it distributes financial assistance.
Why? A member of one sportsmen's association explained, "Every month some group of little old ladies in tennis shoes passes a resolution opposing the use of guns. Most we can't do a darn thing about. Here comes one we can do something about."
William Loeb, publisher of the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, was in the middle of the pack. Loeb bayed in a front-page editorial: "There have been rumors that the YWCA has been penetrated by certain radical, left-wing forces. Certainly, this stand on gun control, which is quite in line with Communist and Socialist viewpoints, indicates that this rumor may have some validity."
After this remarkable echo of Senator Joe McCarthy's casual methods of indictment, Loeb threatened to withdraw his paper's support of the United Fund, thus by extension also withdrawing support from hospitals, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Red Cross and others tarnished by association with the YWCA.
The YWCA's executive director, Edith Lerrigo, complained that the tactic of threatening withdrawal of contributions to community funds was "coercive and smacks of intimidation." And she's right. Shame on you, gentlemen.
BEST AND WORST OF ARNIE
Arnold Palmer grew up about a shanked wedge from his father Deacon's golf shop at the Latrobe (Pa.) Country Club, and now the former caddie with the bullish swing owns the place. Perhaps to give his members something to shoot for, Club President Palmer has figured out his best and worst "ringer" scores for the hundreds of rounds he has played over the 6,374-yard par-72 course during the last 30 years. A ringer score is the best or the worst a player has ever had on a given hole.
Palmer's collective best at Latrobe is a neat little 27-under-par 45 with nine birdies and nine eagles (one a hole in one). The eagles include 2s on par-4 holes of 335, 330 and 341 yards. His worst scores he took from only the past 20 years—since he was National Amateur Champion. They add up to a rather humbling 103, with seven bogeys, nine double bogeys and two triple bogeys.
Somewhere in between, Palmer also set the course record, 30-30-60.
BLUNT AND TO THE POINT
Dull spikes on track shoes are better than sharp spikes, according to Bill Thomson, an assistant coach of a U.S. team that toured Europe this summer. That is, dull spikes are better on the all-weather surfaces that most tracks are made of nowadays. Sharp spikes penetrate more easily and give superb traction, but because they penetrate they must be extracted, which requires a certain amount of extra effort. Blunt spikes do not penetrate the surface but compress it. They sink in far enough to give traction, but as the runner's weight moves forward the compressed surface is pushing the spikes up and away. The resulting rebound helps to quicken and lengthen a runner's stride.
Thomson says that the stride of Steve Williams, currently the best sprinter in the world, increased by five inches when he wore blunt spikes. But they are not an advantage in all events. When Rod Milburn, world-record holder in the 110-meter hurdles, used them in the AAU championships his stride lengthened so dramatically that he lost his finely tuned rhythm between hurdles, hit several of them and finished a blunted fifth.
A STEP CLOSER
Although merger of the ABA and NBA is still at least a season away, ABA Commissioner Robert Carlson's revelation that a federal court has given the two leagues authorization to come together without congressional approval is a signal step forward. Still blocking the way is acceptance by the players, who stopped the original merger plan by obtaining an injunction against it. The leagues' effort to negate the injunction by obtaining congressional sanction for unification foundered in hearings before a Senate subcommittee run by Senator Sam Ervin (before he became busy with another committee). The court order neatly gets the two leagues around both the injunction and congressional delay.
But not around the players. The court said the players must be represented at talks on rights and contracts and that any agreement must be approved by the court. "As long as player rights are protected, we're not against the merger," says Peter Gruenberger, NBA Players Association counsel.
What that means is the reserve clause, which the players want abolished. The ABA, eager for peace, is willing to drop the clause if that will bring about an end to the war with the NBA. But the richer, more secure NBA remains cool to the idea, and—at least for the moment—to the merger, too.
Memphis has hopes—admittedly slim—of landing an expansion franchise in the National Football League. Sometimes the hopes get in the way of reality. Faced with the probability of an embarrassingly small gate in Memphis for an exhibition game between the Baltimore Colts and the Detroit Lions, a member of the Shelby County Court called a special meeting at which he proposed that $30,000 in county tax money be used to buy tickets to hype the gate. He suggested that the city of Memphis match the sum. The tickets thus purchased could be distributed among underprivileged youths, there would be a nice crowd and the pro people would not be too disappointed.
"It's a lot of nonsense," said a fellow member of the Court. "The NFL people aren't a bunch of fools." A third said the plan would "just draw attention to the fact that the public has not supported the game." Abashed, the man who had called the meeting joined in voting to table the idea and forget it.
Local people thought he might have been inspired by certain members of the Tennessee state legislature, who last winter proposed that state funds be provided for the legislators to go to St. Louis to see Memphis State play UCLA in the NCAA basketball finals. They, too, backed down amid guffaws.
STRONG MORAL FIBER
Nobody is actually saying that things are exciting at Purdue University, but the Midwestern school's 1973 football brochure describes the "Boilermaker Special," a truck-train that has gone, among other places, to the Rose Bowl, as "a mascot which symbolizes invincibility, immorality and ingenuity."
Bobby Orr is hockey's best player but not its highest paid. The reason: he signed a five-year $1 million contract two years ago, before the all-out bidding war between the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association sent salaries sky high. Now Orr's representative, Alan Eagleson, who is also the legal representative of the NHL Players Association, is trying to renegotiate the final three years of Orr's contract. The Boston Bruin management has no objection; it wants Orr, and it wants him happy.
Not that Orr is discontent. "I've always been happy in Boston," he says. "The Bruins have treated me well. However, Al transacts all my business for me."
Eagleson began the business by telling a Toronto columnist he intended to write to each WHA club stating that Orr would become a free agent on Sept. 30, 1976 and asking if they would be interested in acquiring his services after that date. "It's merely an exploratory measure," Eagleson says. "Bobby has never expressed a desire to play anywhere but in Boston, and he's perfectly happy with the contract he has. At the same time, some of those WHA teams could come up with a proposition that has never even occurred to us. After all, if Bobby Hull is worth $250,000 a year to any hockey team, we think Orr is worth at least twice that much. At least, I think he is. Bobby doesn't seem to attach as much importance to himself as I do. You give me Bobby Orr and 16 bodies and I'll make any franchise a success.
"And we have to think what a merger between the leagues would do to a player's bargaining power. The money paid to pro football players just before the merger of the NFL and AFL was far greater than that offered today."
The supposedly indestructible Dick Butkus has complained about training-camp scrimmaging, which is understandable for a man of 30 with eight seasons of pro football behind him, but he also says he wants to get off the specialty teams.
Butkus? Still on specialty teams? Yes, sir. "I'm going into my ninth year and I'm still on specialty teams," he said the other day. "You don't see that on other clubs. I wouldn't mind if they didn't have anybody else, but they're always saying the way for a rookie to make the club is to do well on the special teams. But they don't get the chance. I'm out there and guys in their second and third year who have no other way to get into the game are sitting on the bench."
THEY SAID IT
•Steve Patterson, Cleveland Cavalier reserve forward: "Just think, in 20 years I'll be the answer to the sports trivia question, 'Who played center for UCLA between the careers of Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton?' "
•Duffy Daugherty, ex-Michigan State coach and ABC color commentator: "All those college football coaches who hold dressing-room prayers before a game should be forced to attend church once a week."
•Si Burick, Dayton Daily News columnist, on Secretariat: "He is everything that I am not. He is young; he is beautiful; he has lots of hair; he is fast; he is durable; he has a large bank account; and his entire sex life is before him."
•Jim Parker, former Baltimore Colt guard, on pass protection: "The first game I played with John Unitas he passed 47 times. We all knew the rules. If we kept the other guys away from John, we all ate well."