BOWLING THEM UNDER
College football coaches are strong on the benefits of competition, but after what happened to bowl-bound teams last weekend, when several that had already been tapped were beaten (page 62), even they might agree that it can be overdone.
Bowl selection committees, under pressure from TV networks with which they are affiliated, have always pressed for earlier dates for choosing their teams. In response the NCAA adopted a rule in 1967 barring selection before the third week in November. It was honored in the breach, and this season the rule was dropped. The pressures against holding that dateline, apparently, were too great.
The NCAA, the bowls and the networks will do better for the game and themselves by readopting the bid-date rule and setting it back to, say, Dec. 1, when most teams have completed their schedules and the country has a fairly good idea who should be playing in the postseason games. If the three do not, they will get exactly what they deserve—large blocks of empty seats and TV ratings that won't stand up against those of "Mickey Mouse" reruns.
November 18, 1974
THE FALLS OF ACADEME
Sociologist Gideon Aran gives every impression of being a man who is onto something. The question is, what?
Jumping straight into his subject, he wrote in the American Journal of Sociology, "The unusual social aspects of parachuting provide a rich potential for sociological study." Then he turned the air cloudy.
"Within a few moments, the highly integrated collectivity that has dominated its individual members (prejump phase) changes drastically into a tenuous, anomic social situation that gives rise to a very egocentric individuality followed by a return to the former state (postjump phase). This bipolarity of parachuting provides a rare opportunity to study a nearly ideal-typical manifestation of extreme opposite social forms contained within an organizational setting. The sequence of the three phases of the jump, and the dialectical relationship between them, is analyzed here in terms of personal regression leading to social regression, and vice versa."
Sort of makes you hope the parachutes never open.
BAD SKATES (CONT.)
The crackdown on hockey violence (SCORECARD, Nov. 11) continues, this time in the place where most observers think it is long overdue, the National Hockey League. For their disgraceful conduct during a game in Oakland on Oct. 23, the Philadelphia Flyers' Mad Dog Kelly and Don Saleski were suspended for six games without pay by League President Clarence Campbell.
Earlier, the Ontario Hockey Association, which supplies the bulk of the amateur players to the pros, voted stiff penalties for fighting, including 10 minutes in the penalty box for starting a fight and a misconduct penalty and automatic two-game suspension for a player receiving a second major penalty in a game for any combination of infractions.
Penalizing the players will help to cool off the bully boys but it will not stop them. Eleven days after the Oakland incident, in which Kelly and Saleski invaded the penalty box to assault California's Mike Christie while the Flyers cordoned off the area, Philadelphia was in another Pier 6 brawl, this one with the New York Islanders. The Flyers' Moose Dupont drew a double game misconduct, meaning he was kicked out.
Flyer Coach Fred Shero, who, incidentally, supported the amateur rules changes, is directly responsible for his team's behavior, but the ultimate responsibility has to lie with management, which for the time being is profiting royally from the Flyers' deliberately rough tactics. If somebody does not knock sense into some team officials' heads, one of these days a riot on ice is going to spread to the stands with tragic consequences. There is a difference between hard play and outrageous roughness and if the Flyers cannot see this the league should, and impose far harsher sanctions than any so far.
DON'T LOOK NOW BUT...
It is early yet, but last week the No. 1 major league city in the country was tied for first in the American Conference East of the National Football League, first in the Adams Division of the National Hockey League, first in the Atlantic Division of the National Basketball Association. Place named Buffalo.
WHAT A WAY TO GO
Every section of the country has its own version of the nation's No. 1 football fan, but until a more dedicated one comes along the title will have to sit on the throbbing brow of Charlie Winkler, who lives—and is planning to die—with the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Charlie is given to the usual extravagances of genus extrovertus—the 200-mile round-trip drive between his home in Grand Isle and Lincoln for scrimmages, years of perfect attendance at home and road games, the red wardrobe, the visits alone to empty Memorial Stadium just to sit—the whole bit. It is what he has planned that sets him apart. Charlie, who is 52 and takes tranquilizers before games to steady his nerves, has told everybody that if he has a seizure at a game he wants them to take him down to the respirator and roll him over so that he is facing the field.
"That way maybe I can see one last touchdown," he says. "Then I want a helicopter to drift slowly over the stadium, spreading my ashes. People can look up and say, 'Hey, cover your Cokes and hot dogs. Here comes old Charlie floatin' down. Ain't he a prize.' "
It was not a good election year for sportsmen. While the voters did send old AFL Quarterback Jack Kemp and ex-Olympian Ralph Metcalfe back to Washington, Wilmer (Vinegar Bend) Mizell, the onetime Cardinal pitcher, and Olympic decathlon champion Bob Mathias got their unconditional releases. So did the nation's first conservationist-turned-governor, Francis Sargent of Massachusetts (SI, April 22). Baltimore rejected a stadium improvement bond issue and, perhaps most interesting, the New Jersey electorate went heavily against casino gambling.
Many factors beat the casinos. The amendment was poorly drawn, its proponents weak and disorganized. Garden State sports personalities like Bowie Kuhn and Bill Bradley spoke against it. So did the churches, including the Roman Catholic, which raises considerable revenue through bingo. Mostly, though, New Jersey citizens went for the scare argument that the presence of casinos in Atlantic City must also mean underworld domination.
Perhaps they are right and the state cannot enforce its laws. It is a sad admission, but sadder will be the further deterioration of that once grand watering spot, at about the time some other Eastern state—New York, Florida, Maryland, Rhode Island—gives casinos a chance to prove they can be run in as civilized a fashion in this country as they are in, say, London. Casinos don't have to be bad medicine.
If one man should be able to get an international bet down he is John Schapiro, who as president of Laurel Race Course promotes the Washington D.C. International. He did not, and he is still trying to figure out where he did wrong.
Three weeks ago he went to Toronto to scout Dahlia, the fine filly that came in a disappointing third in this year's International (page 80), and paused for what he thought was going to be a moment to venture $300 on the horse for a friend. Before placing the wager, his U.S. currency had to be exchanged for Canadian, for which there is a 2% charge. He approached the exchange clerk and gave him the $300 plus $10 and said, "Give me $300 Canadian and take the 2% out of the $10."
"Can't do that, sir."
"If I accept the $10, I will be exchanging it also and will have to charge exchange for that."
"Can't, sir. I would actually only be taking $6 and would have to charge the 12¢ for exchange."
"Let's start over. Give me 10 U.S. dollar bills for the $10." The clerk did. "Now, here's the $6 for exchanging the $300. Take the 12¢ for exchanging the $6 and keep the change for yourself."
"Can't, sir. We must deal in the exact amount. You will have to give me $6 American and 12¢ Canadian."
"But I don't have the 12¢ Canadian, and won't unless you exchange the seventh dollar."
"Impossible, sir. We don't deal in change at these windows. I had better accept only your $300 and give you $294 in exchange."
"How, then, am I going to be able to bet $300 for my friend?"
"I don't know, sir."
"Let's forget the whole affair. Give me back all the money."
The clerk did. Dahlia won, of course, paying $2.90—Canadian.
EYE IN THE STORM?
Good grief! That bonehead play that made a cartoon caricature of Washington & Lee Defensive Back Charley Brown (SCORECARD, Oct. 21) wasn't dumb after all. Movies showed that Brown made a touchback and not a safety. The goof was strictly the officials'.
This comes as no surprise. Bad calls happen all the time in football. The wonder is that, with the bewildering array of rules they must enforce and 22 men dashing all over the large field, referees don't blow more of them. Ohio State's Woody Hayes, who even before this weekend (page 28) held strong views on the subject, agrees and says the time has come to help out officials with instant-replay television. He puts the argument tactfully: "Officials don't like to make a bad call and they don't like to be criticized for making a good call. There are angles and intervening objects that keep officials from seeing what they think they saw."
It is no exaggeration to say that millions of fans also agree, but should they? After hearing out Art McNally, superviser of the NFL's officials, we doubt it. What on the surface seems a practical solution does not hold up under closer examination. For instance, McNally asks, "How would the fans in Minnesota, on a cold day late in the season, enjoy sitting there all that extra time while the officials studied replays somewhere off on the sideline?
"Which plays—if not all the plays—are subject to review? Scoring plays? It may not be the touchdown run from four yards out that upsets the team scored on but the pass interference call at the four-yard line that set up the touchdown.
"Who should be allowed to bring up complaints? A coach? A team captain? A defensive left end who was held on the play? And who changes the call if the replays indicate the play had been called incorrectly?"
McNally thinks it would take 12 cameras to give proper coverage. The networks use four to six on telecasts, he says, and many times only one gets the play. And the angle on that one can be misleading; often enough, nobody would have discovered the fact until Tuesday when a spectator appeared with a picture he took that showed the officials never should have changed their call.
Better the Charley Browns of this world suffer occasionally the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune than the game get into the hassles McNally envisions.
THEY SAID IT
•David Hobbs, race driver, on Formula I sensation Jody Scheckter: "Jody can retrieve a car from the edge of disaster—and instantly put it on the edge of another disaster."
•Gardnar Mulloy, tennis pro, on aging: "The eyes, not the legs, are where you lose that fraction of a second."
•Jim Cadile, of the World Football League Hawaiians, on switching from center to guard after 11 years: "It's like saving up all your life to move out of a grubby tenement. When you finally do, you find you've moved next door."