PERISH BY THE SWORD
On Monday night football a week ago, the unflappable Howard Cosell was distinctly flapped during a halftime interview with Heavyweight Champion George Foreman when Foreman said on camera, "I like football, but I don't like you. You're a racist." And walked out of the broadcasting booth. It soon developed that Foreman was needling Co-sell. Earlier, in a pregame gathering of sportswriters, broadcasters and celebrities, Cosell, a friend of many black athletes, including Foreman, greeted the heavyweight champion in his usual abrasive way. "Hi, you big black——," he said. Everyone in the crowded room laughed. That Howard.
When Foreman joined Cosell for the interview, he decided to respond in kind. Thus the racist comment and abrupt departure that hit Cosell, as the broadcaster himself might say, where he lived. "I was just jivin' around," Foreman explained later. "Of course, it was facetious. Anyone who thinks I was serious never heard athletes talk to each other."
Cosell thought he was serious. Still shaken, he told Milton Berle after the game, "It's the worst thing that's happened to me in my broadcasting life."
Texarkana (Ark.) High School decided last spring (SCORECARD, April 23) to pay a $20,000 salary to lure Coach Swede Lee back from Texas A&M, where he was an assistant. Lee had been a big success at Texarkana before going off to A&M, but the high school's football fortunes plummeted during his absence. A minority of citizens objected to the salary, which was higher than that paid to any other member of the faculty, including the superintendent of schools. Now, however, the returns are in, and the opposition would have a rough time rousing any anti-Lee sentiment. The Arkansas high school had not defeated its state-line rival, Texarkana (Texas), since Lee's last previous year of tenure in 1964. This year it not only beat the Texas high school, it won 13 straight games and the Arkansas class AAA championship. If that isn't worth $20,000, what is?
Honolulu's brand-new 50,000-seat stadium, under construction near Pearl Harbor, is having a hard time defending itself against Mother Earth and unrequited gods. When the state legislature okayed the stadium and work began two years ago, there were hopes that it would be ready for the 1974 Hula Bowl game. But support piles at one end of the site began to sink and the builders had to redo things. That delay took care of the Hula Bowl, and the opening was rescheduled for the first baseball game of the Hawaii Islanders' season next spring. Then last summer a windstorm ripped off metal sections of the partly constructed stands, and the Islanders were advised that their new home would not be ready until next August.
In November, further delays were feared because of more serious difficulties. During ground-breaking ceremonies in 1971, a controversy over the housing of people who had been displaced by the stadium project kept the Rev. Abraham Akaka from giving the traditional Hawaiian blessing. In Hawaii every new building from a gas station to a high-rise office building is blessed in proper Hawaiian style by a man of the cloth to keep the spirits from messing around with construction. "I did not bless the ground at that time," says the Rev. Akaka, "because, as young people say, the vibrations were not right."
Last month a workman fell 80 feet to his death only minutes after another man had his arm broken when he was pinned by a beam. Their fellow workers promptly called a boycott on stadium construction until the site was properly blessed.
"It's a matter of good luck and bad luck to the workers," said a representative of the builders. "The only thing that can turn it around is to get it blessed."
Finally, last week, the Rev. Akaka went back to the stadium site to lift the curse. "The folks have been relocated," he said. "I feel the problem has been resolved. We are now ready to complete the blessing." With that, he sprinkled salt and water from a hallowed Hawaiian koa wood bowl onto the future 50-yard line. The workers returned to the job. Hopefully, Honolulu will have its new stadium by next autumn.
As cross-country skiing becomes more and more popular, the problem of keeping up strength on long treks becomes more acute. Alpine skiers do not have the same problem; their sport requires skill, grace and coordination, but even the longest downhill run does not last very long and there are always mechanical lifts to take the skier back to the top again. Cross-country skiing, on the other hand, is physically exhausting even for the expert. Because this is so, Randy Fort of the YMCA Community College in Chicago, who teaches a course in cross-country skiing and winter camping, tells his charges that a continuing supply of food is vital. In other words, they must eat early and often. He tells them to carry oatmeal in envelopes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, M&M candies, heavily salted chicken soup, things like that. "I begin eating lunch shortly after breakfast," Fort says. "The whole idea is to nibble your way along the trail."
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO
The National Hockey League, which generally is quite healthy at the box office, is not as successful on TV, at least not when it goes head to head with basketball. In an effort to hype interest in the ice telecasts, NHL stars are being readied for drop-in-and-chat appearances on talk shows such as Johnny Carson's, and NBC, the network that telecasts the Sunday afternoon hockey games, has decided to ape the one-on-one competition that pro basketball had on ABC last season (and which was dropped, much to the players' disgust, when CBS took over the telecasts this season). Between periods of the hockey games, top forwards will take shots at top goalies and—well, you know how it works.
NBC has also moved the time of the games forward in an effort to get them on the air before the basketball telecasts. The obvious move for CBS is to start its basketball games (sorry, the NBA's basketball games) even earlier. If NBC responds in kind, pretty soon we will be enjoying big-league sport with the breakfast Granola.
YOUR AVERAGE BIG TEN TEAM
As the argument raged last week over whether Ohio State (with no passing attack) or Michigan (with a second-string passing attack) was "the most representative team" for the Big Ten to send to the Rose Bowl, a bemused Chicagoan suggested the conference turn instead to Northwestern. Not only did Northwestern have the best passing attack in the Big Ten, he argued, it was as representative as a team could get; it finished in a four-way tie for fourth place and thus finished ahead of three teams, behind three teams and in a tie with three teams.
The continuing dilemma of television's impact on sport, both good and bad, came to a head this fall in Kentucky, when it was announced that the University of Kentucky, perennially one of the top college basketball teams in the country, was awaiting a Southeastern Conference O. K. to televise four important road games over a statewide network. The university had signed contracts for the telecasts with TV stations in Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green, Hazard, Paducah, and Evansville, Ind., and other schools around the state screamed in protest. They said the proposed telecasts would be in direct conflict with 10 Ohio Valley Conference games, two Kentucky Wesleyan home games, and one home game each of Bellarmine and Transylvania. Because interest in Kentucky's renowned team is always high around the state, the others said the telecasts would have a devastating effect on attendance. Folks in their towns would stay home and watch the Wildcats for free, they argued, instead of coming out to watch the local team.
"This is contrary to guidelines established by the NCAA," Dr. Dero Downing, president of Western Kentucky, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "I hope the local TV station will not carry live games that conflict with our schedule." His athletic director, Johnny Oldham, said, "I wouldn't think you could sell advertising time to local businessmen when Western is playing a home game. I don't think there are any such people living here."
But the general manager of the local TV station said he had many requests for the Kentucky telecasts. He did say he would delay the UK games and show them later on tape—if Western Kentucky would let him telecast the conflicting games live. Then, of course, Western Kentucky would be competing with itself.
But that's television.
The twin modern curses of higher costs and less service have struck the Matter-horn. The altitude of the famous Swiss peak remains constant as each year more than 3,000 tourists, a third of them women, make the climb to the top. But the number of professional guides that shepherd the climbers has declined in the last 30 years from 180 to 70 as young Swiss men turn to less dangerous and more lucrative professions. Not that hiring a guide is cheap. The Association of Zermatt Mountain Guides recently announced that next year their Matterhorn fee will be $110, a 57% increase over the current charge of $70.
Everything is going up.
British Columbia is suffering from a plague of—you'll never guess—snowy owls. You think that's nothing? How would you like to be up to your hips in owls? The birds, which usually hang around much farther north, have moved south because of bad weather and a lack of lemmings, upon which they normally feed. The lemmings apparently have been running off to sea, as they do from time to time. Unhappily, the owls face death by starvation or, eventually, disease because of a lack of food in British Columbia. They are not scavengers, and they need live food. But because, oddly for owls, they are diurnal rather than nocturnal hunters, they won't find many mice, their normal substitute for lemmings. Instead, they'll have to make do with an occasional rabbit, pigeon or housecat.
THOSE ARE THE BREAKS
Les Austin, a Miami bar owner, has the misfortune to be able to top a lot of hard-luck-at-the-track stories. Last June, minutes after he claimed Alias Mr. Roth for $7,500 at Calder Race Course, the colt fell in the second race, fractured a shoulder and had to be destroyed (SCORECARD, June 25). Under the rules, Alias Mr. Roth belonged to Austin from the moment the starting gate opened, although former owners would have collected any purse, and he had to pay for the colt.
Now there has been a rerun. Last week at Calder, Austin claimed La Cimas Court for $3,500. Watching the 5-year-old lead the field in the 10th race, Austin exclaimed, "The only way this horse can lose is to break a leg." Seventy yards from the wire La Cimas Court fractured both sesamoid bones in his left foreleg. He had to be destroyed, and for the second time in six months Austin was the stunned purchaser of a dead horse.
THEY SAID IT
•Ed Weaver, Ohio State athletic director, asked if it would be fair to inquire how he voted on whether to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl: "Yes, it would be fair, but it sure would be stupid."
•Ray Fosse, Oakland A's catcher, asked the difference between Cleveland, where he played the previous year, and Oakland, where he cashed a World Series check: "Twenty-four thousand six hundred dollars."
•Bobby Layne, former pro football quarterback, now living in Lubbock, Texas: "Since the fuel shortage we Texans are wearing two-gallon hats."
•Stan Greeson, Harlem Globetrotters president, explaining why he missed a luncheon engagement: "My social schedule was being handled by Duane Thomas."