Criticism of the Soviet Union for the ugliness that pervaded the World University Games is justified, yet it is almost certain that the International Olympic Committee will award Moscow the 1980 Olympic Games. The IOC really has no choice. No other city appears to be seriously in the running for 1980 and, in any case, Moscow's selection seems logical if only because the Soviet Union has been a dominant factor in the Games since its return to the Olympic fold in 1952.
But it is idle for the Russians or the IOC to assume that Moscow or any other city is ever again going to put on an Olympics that will be all sweetness and light. Tight security may prevent a repetition of the insane violence that ruptured Munich in 1972, but inevitably at Moscow—and at Montreal in 1976—there will be political demonstrations of one sort or another no matter what the Russians—or Canadians—try to do to prevent such disruptions.
This is because the Olympic Games are slowly sinking under their own weight. Ideally, they are supposed to be an athletic competition among the youth of the world. In fact, the sporting aspect has been all but drowned under quasi-religious panoply, nationalistic fervor and commercial tie-ins. The Olympics, by virtue of the interest they have generated, have become an international political stage, a living theater occupied by all sorts of hangers-on, and there is nothing the IOC can do about it except reduce the size of the Games or abolish them.
September 9, 1973
STICKY MY WRISTS
Lots of football players tape their wrists, but the Dallas Cowboys' Billy Joe DuPree, a tight end from Michigan State and the club's No. 1 draft choice, does it differently. Team Trainer Don Cochren, who supplies the tape, says, "I saw he was wrapping his wrists with the tape inside out, with the sticky part away from his skin." DuPree explained to Cochren that his method of taping helped him hold onto the football, particularly after a difficult catch when he was trying to bring the ball into his body while the defensive back was trying simultaneously to break him in two and take the ball away.
"Most of our other receivers are trying it, and it seems to help," says Cochren. "Just imagine. I not only learned something new about football, I learned it from a rookie."
In its continuing war with the infant World Hockey Association the National Hockey League went all out to sign every team's No. 1 draft pick from the Canadian amateur leagues. The NHL did not worry as much about subsequent choices, but it wanted the propaganda success of signing the top draft picks. Money was spread around ankle deep ("Pay any price," was the theme), and the NHL achieved its coup.
But the victory rang a bit hollow when the young player generally acknowledged to be the best untapped amateur in Canada, Dennis Sobchuk, signed a 10-year, $1 million contract with the WHA's new Cincinnati franchise. (Cincinnati doesn't swing into action until next year, but Sobchuk probably will be assigned to another WHA team in the interim.)
The NHL reacted angrily to the Sobchuk signing. For years it has had an agreement with the Canadian amateur leagues that it would not draft underage juniors, those who had not reached their 20th birthday. Sobchuk is only 19. And the WHA earlier signed Gordie Howe's two teen-age sons, Marty and Mark, and 18-year-old Tom Edur, an outstanding defenseman. WHA President Gary Davidson said his league had no obligation not to sign a player before his 20th birthday. "Underage junior is NHL terminology," he said.
"If they want to kill junior hockey," said NHL President Clarence Campbell, "the sky will be the limit for us, too. We'll reach down and take the cream of the crop when they're only 17 or 18. We don't want to, but we can't let things go on this way."
A GLUTTON FOR PATRIOTISM
Ersin Aydin, a Turkish chauvinist endurance swimmer, may not have set a record during his 43 hours and 20 minutes in the water, but he did set one for eating more in the water than anyone else. While swimming through the Bosporus, Aydin consumed 14 lamb chops, 13 chocolate bars, 20 cheese sandwiches, nearly eight pounds of peaches, 25 glasses of lea and three jars of honey. "I've done it for the Fatherland," he said.
The Japanese have long been big on such Western sports as baseball, golf, bowling and even horse racing (for the past couple of years they have been top bidders at thoroughbred sales in the U.S. and Britain), but now they may have gone one step too far toward sports insanity: they have taken up baton twirling.
Five baton twirlers from Purdue were invited to Japan to give clinics and demonstrations of their art in preparation for Japan's first international baton-twirling festival in 1974. Professor Al G. Wright, director of Purdue's marching band and a director of the Japan Band Association, says, "Japan is going big in twirling. The bands started about 10 years ago, and the twirling about five years ago. They're going in a different direction from us. They're going for mass twirling. We go solo, because we're a nation of individuals. The Japanese like to be regimented. They'll put 2,000 twirlers in a routine."
Baton twirling and mass band formations are associated with football in the U.S., but Wright says that will not be the case in Japan.
"They won't ever go big on football," Wright says. "They can't stand the physical strain. Their twirlers and bands appear at baseball games. The bands don't march, they sit in the stands. But they send hordes of twirlers on the field to do routines to band music."
Wright believes the Japanese will become very good twirlers because, he says, "They have a great deal of finger and arm dexterity. But if it comes to an international showdown, I think we'll continue to dominate."
OH, SAY, CAN YOU SEE?
The former Baltimore Bullets, who have moved to a suburb of Washington called Largo, have been renamed the Capital Bullets, and Owner Abe Pollin has gone all the way to make capital of the new name. The seats in the new Capital Center will be red, white and blue and will be adorned with patriotic symbols: the flag, the Liberty Bell, the American eagle, the Capitol building. The players will wear red, white and blue uniforms; the shirts will have red and white horizontal stripes, and the shorts will have blue stars on a white background with red and blue trim. Opponents won't know whether to guard them or salute.
Pollin, chairman of the National Basketball Association's merger committee, has been a strong advocate of peaceful union with the rival American Basketball Association. He must want merger more than ever now, if only so his gaily bedecked team can complete the picture by using the ABA's red, white and blue basketball.
DAVID AND THE GOLIATHS
Little Fred Patek, the 5'4" shortstop of the Kansas City Royals, blew his low-level top recently at American League umpires, all of whom tower over the tiny shortstop. Patek, who used to play in the National League, said that instead of plumping for interleague play, the majors should adopt interleague umpiring, just to even things out.
"The difference between the two leagues is the umpiring," he argued. "The National League is so much better. American League umpires don't take pride in their work. They don't know what they're doing, and they don't care.
"The whole system is wrong. The umpires are always on the run and out of position. Take a steal of second. They're behind the base, on the wrong side to see the play, and they have to run to get into position to make the call. They're always running. In the National League the umpire stands in front of the base on the edge of the grass. All he has to do is turn his head and lean, and he's got the play in front of him.
"And they should do away with those big balloon chest protectors they wear behind the plate. The National doesn't have them. They get in the way. The plate umpire stands there behind that balloon and calls every pitch from the same angle. I'm 5'4" and the average player is maybe 6'1", and yet these umpires stand at the same eye level all the time. They're calling strikes on me up around the eyes. It may be a strike for taller guys, but it isn't for me. It's the same with low pitches, because they don't get their faces down there to see where the pitch is.
"I'll bet there's more griping about the umpiring in the American than the National. You come on a field and see who the umpires are, and you say to yourself, 'Oh, no, not them.' And the first thing you know you're fighting two elements, yourself and the umpires. You can't be relaxed."
SHRIMP BOATS AIN'T COMIN'
A Sarasota, Fla. lawyer named Gerald C. Surfus took his family to Key West earlier this summer for some vacation fishing aboard his new 26-foot twin-engined boat, which was equipped with several thousand dollars' worth of electronic fish-finding gear. For several days the boat performed beautifully. Then one day, about 35 miles offshore, a large crack appeared across the bow. Moments later the entire front end broke off and sank. The 10 people aboard (Surfus, his wife, his sister, his parents and his five daughters) spent more than 24 hours hanging on to the remainder of the hull, which fortunately stayed afloat. During this lime they were passed by five commercial shrimp boats, none of which stopped to pick them up, even though Surfus stood on the overturned hull and waved frantically.
Finally a sports fisherman stopped and took them into Key West. As soon as the rescuing boat moved off, one of the shrimp boats that had not responded to Surfus' earlier signals went over to the hulk and stripped—or salvaged—it of its two engines and electronic gear.
After a brief recuperation in a Key West hospital, Surfus, either a notably unbitter man or a really zealous fisherman, bought another boat and took the family off for another two weeks of fishing. Got three sailfish and a boatload of dolphin this time, but not one commercial shrimper.
WHAT'S IN A SIGN?
Agnes Biggs owns 640 acres near Rosebud, Alberta. Her land is full of deer, geese, pheasants, rabbits, coyotes. Each year this private game preserve used to be invaded by armies of hunters who, along with shooting the geese, pheasants, deer, et al., shot up her NO HUNTING signs for good measure. She tried to chase them off with the help of her big German shepherd Major, but to no avail.
Last fall she replaced the NO HUNTING signs with a dozen new ones that read, ECOLOGICAL PRESERVE, PATROLLED, NO TRESPASSING. When the bird season opened, very few hunters ventured onto her property and nobody even shot up the signs. During deer season she and Major ran off only two trespassers.
For the coming season Mrs. Biggs has ordered another dozen of the miracle-working signs, and some of her neighbors, with larger landholdings, are following her example. Never underestimate the power of words.
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Garagiola, sportscaster: "Everybody on the Cardinals used to fuss about Preacher Roe's spitball except Stan Musial. He'd say, 'What's the difference? I'll just hit the dry side of the ball.' "
•Craig Breedlove, former world land-speed record holder, describing how he knew he was in trouble when his rocket-powered auto became airborne at 377 mph: "The sky was in the wrong direction, and I saw it go round and round."
•Johnny Miller, pro golfer, on Jack Nicklaus: "When he plays well, he wins. When he plays badly, he finishes second. When he plays terrible, he finishes third."
•Hank Stram, Kansas City Chiefs coach, dismissing the theory that exhibition games are meaningless: "I think we are all such creatures of habit that if we establish a winning habit, it's easier to maintain. If you lose six in a row there's no way you can convince me that you wouldn't go into the season feeling pretty shaky."