South Africa continues to stick in the throat of international sport. Last week we noted that Tanzania might not let Filbert Bayi run in the Olympic 1,500 if his archrival John Walker of New Zealand were entered—because black Africa is angry with New Zealand for refusing to break off athletic relationships with South Africa.
Now the problem is coming to a head in tennis. Earlier this year Mexico defaulted in Davis Cup competition rather than play South Africa. Some tennis authorities declared that Mexico's action put politics ahead of sport and was unjustified. The Committee of Management of the Davis Cup voted to recommend to the General Meeting of Davis Cup Nations in July that any country defaulting a match—as Mexico did—be suspended for one year. Mexico, on its part, says that at least 10 countries, including the Soviet Union, will join Mexico in withdrawing from Davis Cup play if South Africa is not banned outright. The U.S. says it will quit if South Africa is banned and, indeed, will quit if Mexico is not punished. Great Britain says the same thing, and there are reports that France will follow suit.
If the opposing sides remain intransigent and the issue comes to a showdown, no matter which side wins, the Davis Cup loses. Tennis loses. And sport loses.
May 16, 1976
Every year, pro football's No. 1 draft choice signs a contract befitting a man who, it is hoped, will turn a franchise around. That is, every No. 1 choice has signed except the first one—Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago in 1936.
Berwanger, also the first Heisman Trophy winner, says, "I remember meeting George Halas of the Chicago Bears in a hotel lobby. He asked me what I wanted. I said $25,000 for two years and a no-cut contract. We shook hands, said good-by and that was it."
Now a manufacturers representative in Hinsdale, Ill., Berwanger was a serious young man, and pro football at that time had little glitter and no solid future. "And I was interested in my future," he says, "because I was going to spend the rest of my life there."
All right, let's set the scene for you. Here we are in the quarterfinals of the Louisiana State high school baseball tournament in Baton Rouge—Jesuit High of New Orleans vs. South Terrebone High. Bottom of the first, Kenneth Retif of Jesuit up, bases loaded, two outs, two strikes on the batter. Pitcher throws. Strike three! But the pitch gets away from the catcher and everybody starts running. The catcher scrambles after the ball, retrieves it, races back to the plate in an attempt to get the man coming in from third, fails, spins and throws to first base. The ball sails beyond the first baseman's glove, rolls all the way to the right-field fence and, before it is recovered and thrown in, everybody scores. Four runs. Give Retif a grand-slam strikeout.
Never mind the stories about violence in hockey. The NHL security office reports that, except for a boyish tendency to pound one another's heads on the ice, hockey players do nothing sinful.
"I know of no homosexuals in the NHL," says Security Director Frank Torpey, apparently alluding to a recent disclosure by a former pro football player. "We are remarkably free of that stuff, thank God."
As for drugs, the National Football League has a convicted cocaine seller but, says Torpey's aide, Al Wiseman, "There is no evidence of any drug use in our league, and I'm talking about all drugs."
Wiseman also said no evidence of gambling has been discovered—the poor old NFL has suspended players for a year for betting—and that "I haven't seen a lush yet. From our standpoint, there are no alcoholics."
No aberrant sex, no drugs (presumably not even marijuana), no gambling, no drunks—the purity is overwhelming. Why, in the Western Canada Hockey League, President Ed Chynoweth made Coach Ernie McLean of the New Westminster Bruins post a $5,000 personal performance bond after McLean reached over the boards and pulled a toupee off the head of a linesman. "There is no way our league can condone this," declared Chynoweth.
In such a heady moral atmosphere it is probably gilding the lily to suggest that hockey go a teensy step further and get the boys to cut down a little on the practice of jamming hockey sticks into opponents' teeth.
BIG BANG-BANG THEORY
When the jogging craze hit several years ago, it was suspect as perhaps just another fad. It has shown remarkable staying power. But for such a simple activity, it continues to stir a variety of views.
Many people jog a mile or more a day. But Dr. Paul Lessack, director of adult fitness and cardiac rehabilitation at the Rutgers Medical School in Green Brook, N.J., says, "Don't go out and jog a mile. Jog for a minute and walk for a minute. Repeat that five or six times, three times a week. That's all you need." Short, intense exercise like this, Lessack says, is more healthful than prolonged, uninterrupted jogging.
But Dr. Don Lannin, the physician for the Minnesota Vikings, thinks people shouldn't jog at all. He favors bike riding. Why? Lannin says there's too much "bang-bang" in jogging, which is particularly damaging to the hip.
And at the University of Wisconsin, Jeff Peirce, who is completing work on his doctorate, is concerned about where a person jogs. Jog upwind, he urges, and at least a block from any street, if possible, to avoid inhaling auto exhaust. Every extra meter you put between the road and yourself helps.
For those of you who have been jogging along roadways for several miles every day, never thinking about downwind or upwind, but always about what good things you are doing for your health, this item is designed to ruin your day.
"Game called on account of cleats," the announcement could have said. When Pitcher Bill Butler of the Tacoma Twins went to the mound last Friday night to face the Hawaii Islanders in a Pacific Coast League game in Honolulu, he was wearing metal cleats. This violated a rule that is in force at Aloha Stadium, Hawaii's new 50,000-seat showcase. "We want this AstroTurf to last 10 or 12 years," says stadium Manager Mackay Yanagisawa, who effectively stopped Butler from walking on the rug by turning off the ball park's lights.
Jack Quinn, president of the Islanders, pleaded with Yanagisawa to turn the lights back on, but Yanagisawa was adamant. Nor could Manager Cal Ermer of the Twins be persuaded to have Butler put on acceptable shoes. "Every pitcher in our organization is required to wear metal cleats, no matter what the surface is," Ermer said. "I got my orders."
The impasse continued. After 30 minutes Umpire Bill Lawson called the game, awarding it to Tacoma on a forfeit. "I have to go by the rule book," he said, "and the rule book states that the home team is responsible for playing conditions."
Maybe the defeat did it, but in any case Yanagisawa got a phone call the next day from Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi. The governor decreed that metal cleats be allowed, at least for the time being, and Saturday night's game was played. Tacoma won that one, too.
HARD AS NAILS
Football coaches like to complain about tough schedules—see Frank Broyles' comment over there in "They Said It"—but it isn't always easy to tell if a schedule is as hard as the coach says it is, in college ball. Pro football is easier to analyze, and the figures give Bill Arnsparger of the New York Giants a prima facie argument that his 1976 schedule is a back breaker. In a rating based on the total number of victories each team's 1976 opponents achieved last year, the Giants will have far and away the toughest slate in pro football next fall. The Giants' rivals had a total of 115 wins last year, compared to a piddling 74 for those facing the Oakland Raiders, whose schedule is the easiest in the league.
Closest to the Giants in the dread-things-to-come category are the San Diego Chargers (103 opponent victories), the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears (each at 102, although the Bears would like you to note that in mid-season they play five consecutive games against teams that made the playoffs last season), the Cincinnati Bengals (101) and the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots (100 each). Other teams' schedules range from 96 to 80, except for the Denver Broncos who, at 75, have almost as soft a schedule as the Raiders.
POSITION IS EVERYTHING
On another aspect of scheduling, this one in baseball, Bob Holbrook of the American League says the Cleveland Indians have about the best geographic location of any of the 12 teams in that league, at least as far as travel is concerned. Clubs along the Atlantic Coast—Baltimore, Boston and New York—travel about 26,000 to 30,000 miles a year, says Holbrook, while those on the Pacific Coast—Oakland and California—rack up between 40,000 and 45,000 miles. The Indians, sometimes going east, sometimes west, have traveled as little as 19,000 miles. Since it costs about $4.50 a mile to move a team from city to city, Cleveland's travel budget is some $30,000 to $40,000 less than those of the Eastern teams, as much as $100,000 less than California's or Oakland's.
And you thought you never heard anyone say anything nice about Cleveland.
An angry fight fan, suspected of being from the anti-Washington city of Baltimore, is up in arms about some antiboxing articles in The Washington Post before and after the recent Ali-Young go.
"An escapee from the Post's editorial page," he writes, "used the sports section before the fight to scourge what he saw as the coming horror of it all. A couple of days after the fight some woman reporter climbed on the sport as if she had seen a mouse. I hope I never go to another fight, she wailed, after protesting what she viewed as mismatches on the undercard. Granted, the undercard was no brilliant piece of matchmaking, but such is the world of four- and six-round boxing. Most of the time only the worst is seen in this area, yet the four-rounder is necessary to the sport if talent is to be discovered and developed.
"But why boxing at all? the Post seems to ask. Well, boxing may have no redeeming social value, but then there is none, for example, in junk food or a lot of other things within the square mileage of Washington, D.C. To come down righteously on boxing is an old, obvious and threadbare trick."
And if any of yez wants a fight, come on over to Ballimer.
In the event you live in an area where from time to time you are approached by gorillas, wildlife photographer Dieter Plage has some advice for you.
"If a gorilla charges you," counsels Plage, "you must stand absolutely still, which is admittedly very difficult—especially the first time. He will charge up to about a foot from your face, scream wildly and rear up on his legs. You must stand still, though. This is absolutely vital."
If you do not stand still?
"Well, the moment you run away, the gorilla will come and catch you, and your chances of getting out of the situation are very slim."
Next week we'll discuss what to do when embraced by a boa constrictor.
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Veeck, Chicago White Sox owner: "We're doing this whole thing backward. Attorneys should wear numbers on their backs and box scores should have entries for writs, depositions and appeals."
•Mike Shaw, publicity director of the NBA Buffalo Braves, on the termination of Coach Jack Ramsay's contract: "He's not fired. He's just not rehired."
•Frank Broyles, University of Arkansas football coach, on scheduling: "A team that is overscheduled begins to lose. Then it loses its fans, its players and then its coach."
•Gordie Howe, on the condition of the World Hockey Association: "The funny thing is, except for the teams going under, our league has never been in better shape."