Emphasis on winning led paradoxically to an indifference to defeat in college basketball in the Midwest last week. Morehead State, tied for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference, had a nonconference game at Illinois State, more than 400 miles away. Rather than subject the stars of his team to the 800-mile round trip, Coach Bill Harrell left his top six players at home to prepare for conference games coming up a few days later with Murray State and Austin Peay.
Illinois State, a mediocre 10-8 for the season, trounced the depleted Morehead team 113-74, but got little satisfaction from the hollow victory. Athletic Director Milt Weisbecker said, "It was a hoax on our team, our coaching staff and our fans. That man should not be in coaching, and I told him so." Coach Will Robinson said, "We were tuned to play the first-place team in the Ohio Valley Conference. This took all the fun out of it."
Harrell was unapologetic after the game, although a few days later he said he would resign as coach because of "lack of support" from the school. "We did what we felt was best for our chances," he said. "It's a long trip, and we've got two tough games this weekend. If our starters made the trip, there's no way we could prepare for them. Our kids would have no sap in their legs. We play in a very physical league, and our seniors have their hearts set on winning the conference."
February 17, 1974
Harrell made one more revealing remark. He said, "If Illinois State had come to our place and left their top players home, that would have tickled me. I'm always glad to get a win."
But despite that attitude and the reverence accorded Vince Lombardi's dictum that winning is the only thing, it isn't. The often misunderstood Olympic concept of "taking part" is fully as important. "Taking part" means trying to win, and trying to win is as vital to sport as winning. Maybe more so. Winning is what you want to do, and what you try your absolute best to do—because if you don't try, if you don't really take part, you cheat yourself and you cheat your opponent and you cheat your sport. If Harrell and Morehead State felt that the game with Illinois State was unimportant, they should not have played it. Once they committed themselves to it, they were bound by the basic concept of competitive sport to do their best.
Stanford's wrestling team was wiped out by Oregon, beaten so badly that in 10 matches Stanford failed to score a point. Pretty sad, but the final result was even worse. Stanford Coach Joe DeMeo was hit with a technical when he disputed a call during the match. A technical violation costs a team one point. Final score Oregon 48, Stanford -1.
When the American Basketball Association held a luncheon before its All-Star Game in Norfolk, Va. last week, 10 of the 20 All-Star players were missing. They bypassed the lunch, apparently because they were miffed that gifts had not been placed in their rooms. Gifts had been given to the players last year. Al Bianchi, coach of the Virginia Squires, said, "The players are paid $500 and $300 for this game, depending on whether they win or lose. Who says they're supposed to get anything more? Some of them are making $70,000 and $80,000 a year. Why are they worried about a little gift in their rooms? This is absolutely ridiculous."
People who paid $10 for the luncheon had been assured they would be sitting with the players. Because all 10 of those absent were black (16 of the 20 All-Stars were black), some felt the action was a boycott, but the black players insisted it was not. The nonexistent gifts were the reason.
"Only three things were asked of the players," said Bianchi. "They were to practice, attend the luncheon and play in the game. I think they should be fined."
WHAT'S THE USE?
Skiers hurt with pride, according to Dr. Arthur E. Ellison, a former medical adviser to the National Ski Patrol System.
"There is an aura of mystique about a ski injury in many cases," Dr. Ellison said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. "Someone will break a leg and find it humorous. Soon you will find him enshrined in some local saloon. But skiing has had a bad rap. Its injury rate is dramatically lower than that of football."
Ellison said skiing is the only sport in which people like to joke about injuries. He has a cartoon in his office showing a woman, dressed for a warmer climate, skiing with her husband. "As soon as George breaks something," she says, "we're leaving for the Caribbean."
The sport suffered further comment from another medical man. Dr. Lewis J. Krakauer, of the Corvallis (Ore.) Clinic, told a conference on injuries that downhill skiing—in sharp contrast to cross-country skiing—is not exercise. At least, it is not in the true physiological sense of the term. Dr. Krakauer said it did little to train muscle endurance or to increase cardiac conditioning, and may be harmful to the poorly conditioned heart by creating stress from excitement, cold, altitude and overdressing.
Obviously, the only thing to do is to bypass the slopes and get right to the apr√®s-ski activity around the fire in the lodge, and in the bar.
A "night at the races" scheduled by a group of Democrats in Maryland was scratched recently. It was to have been a series of films of old thoroughbred races, on which those in attendance would make bets. A nifty fund-raising gimmick, except that the local state's attorney ruled it out of order. "I had to do a little research on the subject," says Warren B. Duckett Jr., the attorney for Anne Arundel County, and a Democrat. "I first determined that the Democratic Party is not a volunteer fire company and therefore can't conduct such a fund-raising affair. The party also isn't a fraternal organization or religious group." (Some Democrats might dispute that.) "I checked with the Internal Revenue Service," adds Duckett, "and it says the party definitely isn't a charitable organization. The state law does say a 'civic group' can conduct such an affair. Is the Democratic Party a civic group? That was too close to call."
In order to protect chairs and couches in its main lounge from stains left by sweaty players just off the courts and still wearing tennis shorts and shirts, the Racquet Club of Victoria, British Columbia posted a sign that said cryptically: NO WHITES ON UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE. The sign soon disappeared and was later found on display in the living room of an amused member of the club—who happens to be black.
YEAH? WELL, YOU'RE ANOTHER
Some pointed comments zinged back and forth during a two-hour discussion of sports broadcasting that was put on the air last week by WBZ radio in Boston. Among those talking on the program by phone hookup were Broadcasters Curt Gowdy, Howard Cosell, Ray Scott and Chris Schenkel, as well as Roone Arledge, head of ABC-TV sport, and Carl Lindemann, Arledge's counterpart at NBC. High point—or low point—of the heady discussion came in a childish exchange of acrimony between Scott, who did the Super Bowl for CBS last month, and Arledge.
Arledge: "I think there has been more entertainment and certainly more journalism on our Monday night telecasts than there has been anywhere else in football."
Scott: "In what area could you label any part of it as journalism?"
Arledge: "Telling it like it is about trades, about people on the teams and not treating it like a religion, like you do."
Scott: "A religion?"
Arledge: "Yeah. You said Howard is colorful but inaccurate."
Scott: "Totally inaccurate."
Arledge: "Well, I think you're dull and inaccurate. You made more mistakes in the Super Bowl than Howard made all season."
Scott: "That may be the most ridiculous statement that's been made so far, and you could never back it up."
Arledge: "I certainly could."
Scott: "I'll tell you something. Monday night football this past season contained more mistakes of fact than a lot of high school broadcasts I've heard."
Arledge: "Ray, you're just jealous."
Scott: "How could I be jealous?"
Arledge: "How could you be jealous?" Scott: "I couldn't care less about being recognized in the street."
Chris Schenkel (breaking in): "Ray, you love it. I love it."
Scott: "That's not my aim in life." Stay tuned. Or don't stay tuned.
THEY SAID IT
•Johnny Rodgers, 1972 Heisman Trophy winner, on his selection as Canadian Football League Rookie of the Year: "I'm only an average superstar."
•Dave Maurer, football coach at Wittenberg (Ohio) University, after sitting for four hours at a football banquet next to Ted Bell, Ohio's No. 1 high school player, sought by Southern California, Notre Dame and Ohio State: "Wittenberg is on his recruiting list; we're 223rd."
•Stan Musial, expressing his pleasure at still being connected with baseball: "I have a darn good job with the Cardinals, but please don't ask me what I do."
•Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers hockey star, noticing Charley Young, the Philadelphia Eagles' rookie tight end, at a banquet: "When I look at Charley Young, all I can think is that if I was his size playing my sport, I wouldn't have to take my teeth out and put 'em in my pocket before I play."