MAMA KNOWS BEST
More battle news from the tennis front: Jimmy Connors, the one-man war, withdrew from last week's $150,000 Grand Prix Masters in Houston to play in the $320,000 Challenge Cup in Las Vegas. This angered the Masters people, who felt that World Championship Tennis, which puts on the Challenge Cup, should not have scheduled their event in conflict with the Masters and, in any case, should not have lured Connors away. WCT said it was Connors' choice, that Jimmy could have played in Houston if he wanted. "He decided to come here," the WCT's George Pharr said blandly.
Connors' decision to play in Las Vegas not only disturbed those responsible for the Masters, it rankled U.S. Davis Cup officials, too. Connors said he would be unable to take part in cup play against Mexico next week because of injuries—reportedly a bad back and sprained ankles—but after that news was made public Jimmy, injuries and all, went off to play in Las Vegas (he beat Vitas Gerulaitis, won $50,000 and upped his 1976 winnings to $657,335).
Connors' mother Gloria declared that passing up the Davis Cup was her idea. "I must decide what's best for Jimmy in this situation," she said. "He's got to be sat on. The decision is not his." Right, Jim? Right, Mom.
December 13, 1976
More cheerful news comes from the women's side of the net. When World Tennis magazine released its annual international women's rankings, with Chris Evert on top for the third straight year, it noted that Chris is only 21, the fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-ranked are only 20 and the 10th is 21. Thus, despite Evert's domination, the future of women's competition seems bright.
As though to endorse this, an announcement from London reports that the prospect of the women boycotting Wimbledon next year unless they receive parity in prize money with the men, as they threatened last summer, has been averted. Under a new agreement, prize money for women's singles will be 90% of that for men's singles, which may not be exact parity but apparently is close enough.
The NFL owners' decision to show their support of Commissioner Pete Rozelle by renegotiating his contract was a direct reaction to earlier grumblings against Rozelle (SCORECARD, NOV. 1), the most pointed coming from Carroll Rosenbloom, the outspoken owner of the Los Angeles Rams. On TV last Saturday between halves of the Rams' division-clinching rout of the Atlanta Falcons, Rosenbloom beamed affability, saying the hatchet had been buried. What seems closer to the facts is that Rosenbloom and Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders were sharply repudiated by their fellow owners for their incessant carping at the commissioner. Leonard Tose, who owns the Philadelphia Eagles, said the overwhelming vote in support of Rozelle indicated that the owners were in strong agreement that "in these times there can be no question about the authority of the commissioner in anything relating to football."
ALOHA, YOU ALL
When Lamar University's basketball team plays Hawaii in Honolulu next week, there'll be one spectator in attendance who can thank Coach Billy Tubbs for the trip from Beaumont, Texas.
Tubbs had decided to promote attendance at Lamar's home games by staging a basket-shooting contest at halftime during the Cardinals' home opener. If a fan chosen by lot from the crowd could hit a shot from midcourt, he would win a free trip to Hawaii. Naturally, Tubbs was not too worried about his chances of actually having to spring for the trip.
At the game three program numbers were drawn. The selectees shot from the free-throw line first, with the winner there getting the chance for the big shot from midcourt. After eliminating his rivals at the foul line, predental student Dale McCall stepped to midcourt and on his first try swished the ball through the basket. He explained later that when he was a high school senior he used to practice that midcourt shot and got so he was making it 60% of the time. "I'm loaded down with studying," he said happily about his prize, "but I wouldn't miss this trip." A glum Tubbs muttered to himself, "You've just lost $500, you dummy." But, Billy, think of the publicity.
AND WHEN WE YELL
There are summer camps for football, baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, soccer—just about every sport. And if you don't feel like being in a sport but would rather just cheer for one, there are camps for cheerleading, too. There is even a National Cheerleaders Association, based in Dallas, which supervises yell camps in 46 states and Canada, as well as a couple of places in Europe.
The campers, about 90% of them girls, pay from $50 to $75 a week for room, board and five days of instruction in cheering and chanting and otherwise firing crowds to a fever pitch. The NCA says the camps, most of them on university campuses, handle about 100,000 students each year and generate revenues of about $7 million. California is a particular rah-rah hotbed, with clinics scattered each summer from Chico in the north to San Diego in the south.
We wonder if football coaches, with their fanatic insistence on paying attention to every detail relating to their sport, are scouting the camps. We can imagine an assistant's report on a prospect: "Sally Pompon, 5'5", 118. Yells good. Sings real good. Can do five backflips in 4.5 seconds. A blue-chipper."
Exceptionally foul weather—snow, fog, sleet and rain—knocked 30 games out of Great Britain's soccer schedule last weekend, creating the possibility of turmoil in the nationwide football pools to which the British are addicted.
Was there an uproar? No. This sort of thing has happened before, and a very civilized sort of plan was ready for just such a contingency. The Marquis of Bath convened a panel consisting of himself, a former referee and several former soccer stars. They all sat down in a BBC studio and decided among themselves how the canceled games would have come out if they had been played. On their conclusions the multimillion-dollar payouts on the pools were made, with hardly a murmur anywhere. If it is true that there will always be an England, this is one of the reasons why.
DID FOR DEAR OLD RUTGERS
Undefeated Rutgers' claim to national recognition as one of the nation's top college football teams (SI, Dec. 6) cooled a little when it was discovered that a devastating miscall by an official helped the Scarlet Knights to their squeaky 17-9 win over tough little Colgate. In the third period Rutgers, trailing 6-3, had to punt from its 46. The snap from center sailed over the head of Kicker Joe Moss, and Colgate's Pat Horan, chasing after Moss, shoved him aside and fell on the ball at the Rutgers 16.
Colgate's high over the break deflated rapidly: there was a flag on the play. Clipping call against Horan. "I saw the kicker get belted," veteran official John Goldsmith explained. "Pushing or shoving from behind is a clip under normal circumstances." The ball was returned to the line of scrimmage—the procedure on a loose ball before the exchange of a ball—and a 15-yard penalty stepped off against Colgate. Instead of the Red Raiders having a first down on the Rutgers 16, Rutgers had a first down on the Colgate 31. Whatever momentum Colgate had was gone. So, in time, was the game.
But Goldsmith, as he freely admitted later, was wrong. "I blew it," he said. "I regret the call." The rules say a player attempting to recover a loose ball can push an opponent out of the way without incurring a clipping penalty. After reviewing films of the game Art Hyland, supervisor of Eastern College Athletic Conference officials, said, "He called a clip when it was not possible to have a clip. In retrospect, I would have hoped the other officials would have overruled the call."
Fred Gruninger, Rutgers' athletic director, reacted peevishly to Hyland's comment. "The supervisor of officials shouldn't be saying that," he declared. "I'm going to make a strong complaint. He'll have to review the entire game to see if there weren't other mistakes."
As for Colgate Coach Fred Dunlap, he said he was glad Horan, who had been called the goat of the game, was off the hook. He also said, "I have no ill feelings toward Rutgers. It wasn't their fault. It was a wonderful game between two fine teams."
Goldsmith said, "I have a lot of respect for Dunlap and his assistants. They didn't get on my back the rest of the game, as many teams do. In fact, I'd like nothing better than to work the Colgate-Rutgers game next year."
SOME CHANGES MADE
The Oakland A's lost more good players through the free-agent draft (page 28) than any other team. As of the moment, next year's Oakland lineup looks like this:
First Base: Ron Fairly
Second Base: Phil Garner
Shortstop: Rob Picciolo
Third Base: Tom Sandt
Left Field: Denny Walling
Center Field: Bill North
Right Field: Claudell Washington
Catcher: Jeff Newman
Vida Blue may be around to pitch, and Manny Sanguillen could be a dangerous designated hitter, but what a comedown from the team of stars that won world championships in 1972, 1973 and 1974.
Four years ago officials decided to expand the 17,000-seat Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla., where Oklahoma State is scheduled to play Brigham Young on Dec. 17, and turn it into a big-league 51,000-seat stadium. Construction was delayed for two years by court wrangles that ended at just about the time the stadium's only steady tenant, the Florida Blazers of the World Football League, went into bankruptcy and folded. Despite that and despite building costs that were far higher than original estimates, work began. But when the expansion was completed in September 1975, alarming bends were found in some of the supporting steelwork (SCORECARD, Oct. 20, 1975) and the bowl remained closed another year for further repairs.
Two weeks ago, the reopened T-Bowl had its first big game: Florida vs. Miami. More than 40,000 were on hand, including Ed Weiss of Apopka, Fla. and his son Robert, who were in the upper deck on the stadium's east side.
"When the national anthem was played we all rose, moving forward to stand," Weiss says. "The stadium moved forward with us. It was amazing. People looked at one another to see what was happening. A few, maybe 30 or 40, moved toward the exits as soon as the anthem was over." Patricia Dowling, a schoolteacher who was one of those who left, says, "It was frightening."
Weiss and his son remained. They thought of moving to seats elsewhere in the stadium but, feeling that a rush to the exits could lead to a stampede, decided it would be better to sit down and stay. "But I'll tell you this," Weiss says. "We really didn't jump up and down much after that."
Stress tests were made after the game and officials reported that nothing was structurally wrong. Orlando Director of Public Safety Howard McClain says, "The movement in the stands is normal. Engineers expected it. People were just overreacting to publicity the stadium has received in the past."
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Battle, forced out as head football coach at Tennessee: "Class is, when they run you out of town, to look like you're leading the parade."
•Adrian Buoncristiani, head basketball coach at Gonzaga University, a Jesuit school in Spokane: "Like all coaches at the beginning of the season, I'm optimistic. And righteously so."
•Jack Faulkner, Los Angeles Rams assistant coach, on the placekicking Mike-Mayer brothers, Steve of the 49ers and Nick of the Falcons, who between them in the same game missed two easy field goals and an extra point and had a third field-goal attempt blocked: "I'm just glad they aren't a trapeze act."