Whether or notwomen athletes will follow men into the big-business hoopla of college sportwas the topic of long debate at last week's meeting in Memphis of theAssociation for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. The AIAW worried, forexample, about Nancy Lieberman of Far Rockaway, N.Y., a high school basketballstar who played on the U.S. team at the Olympics and who last spring wascourted by more than 70 colleges. Coaches sat on her doorstep; one offered hera free car and an apartment if she would accept a scholarship.
The AIAW finallydecided that, beginning in August 1978, scholarships will be limited to tuitionand fees (no room and board and so on). It also forbids schools from payingcoaches for recruiting-trip expenses. Some who object to these rules protestthat limiting aid to women penalizes Jane while John breezes through college ona full ride.
"Denyingyoung women what is given to men is not only illegal, it is immoral," saysLinda Estes, women's athletic director at the University of New Mexico. On theother hand, Christine Grant of Iowa, head of an AIAW committee that analyzedthe proposals, warns that liberalized recruiting and broader scholarship aid"would lead us down a path where we would think of the student as aproperty who performs prescribed tasks."
Others opposed tothe AIAW restrictions feel that bigtime sport for women is here already. HoraceMcCool, athletic director at Delta State, which has won the women's nationalbasketball championship twice in a row, says, "Our whole region is in favorof recruiting. I don't care what they're talking about. When we play the gamewe play to win, and therefore we want to go look for the finer high schoolathletes. Our young ladies this year will play 12 home ball games and eight ofthem will be sellouts."
The question, ofcourse, is whether women's athletics should continue to be part of theeducational process or drift into the sports-entertainment business. It's notan easy question to answer.
In the old days,the Big Ten used to prosper in the Rose Bowl—when it was the Big Ten instead ofthe Big Two. From 1947 through 1968, the first 22 years of the pact that bringsthe Pacific Coast and the Midwest together in Pasadena on New Year's Day, theBig Ten had a 16-6 edge, and every school in the conference made at least onetrip to the Rose Bowl. Since 1969, when Michigan and Ohio State took over, onlythose two overinflated powerhouses have gone to Pasadena. And they have lostseven of the nine games they've played there.
The obviousconclusion seems to be that the Big Ten was far more effective when it was acompetitive conference, when playing talent was more evenly distributed, whenits eventual champion had to win more than a two-team race.
Personal note.For the past month or so this magazine and other people and institutions insport have been acclaiming the outstanding individuals, teams and events of1976: Chris Evert, Nadia Comaneci, Joe Morgan, Tony Dorsett, Dr. J, theCincinnati Reds, the Montreal Canadiens, the Olympic Games.... The editor ofthis department now takes a few lines to salute one more memorable event and anadmirable individual.
The person? EdwinMoses. The event? The 400-meter hurdles at Montreal. This most demanding oftrack events requires not only speed and stamina but meticulous technique andunflappable poise. You cannot compete seriously in the 400-meter hurdles unlessyou possess all four qualities in abundance. At Montreal, Moses sustained themat maximum levels to win decisively in world-record time. More than that, hewon with style and dignity, with a clear understanding of what he hadaccomplished. Perhaps the best moment of all came 10 or 15 yards past the tapewhen the victorious Moses, realizing he had done what he had set out to do somany months before, slowly clapped his hands together three times in a sort ofprivate ceremony of self-congratulation, richly deserved.
Although more andmore young girls give as much time and attention nowadays to practicingcross-court volleys and executing backflips √† la Nadia as they do to dolls anddresses, not too many are into boxing. As a matter of fact, we don't know ofany, other than 11-year-old Amber Edwina Hunt of Murray, Utah, who would ratherbe called Amber Jim.
Amber Jim, boxingagainst boys, which doesn't seem to bother anybody, has won eight straightfights, all by technical knockouts. The last two TKOs came in Junior OlympicGolden Gloves competition (one in the first round, the other in the second).Now she has her sights on winning the Utah State championship in March. She isthe first girl to compete in the Golden Gloves in Utah and, her Coach TonyBullock believes, is probably the first female Golden Glover in the country.She's also an outstanding-swimmer (freestyle and butterfly) and runs threemiles to and from school each day.
Amber Jim'sparents are all for her boxing activities. "I've always allowed my childrento use their own minds," says her mother, Mrs. Jack Hunt, noting that herthree sons, all younger than Amber Jim, are not athletically inclined. "Hertomboyish aggressiveness started when she was a baby, when she continually toreup her crib. She's all girl, but she h-never really cared for dolls and such.She didn't care for boys' toys, either. She just "became wrapped up inathletics, and boxing and swimming are her two loves."
"She's quitea fighter," says her father. "She's tough and a good boxer. She's likethose Polish and Russian fighters—aggressive, always on the attack."
As for Amber Jim,she says, "I want to prove a girl can do anything a boy can do. I want togo to the Olympics and be the first girl to win a gold medal combination inboxing and swimming."
Watch yourlanguage, Amber Jim. Not girl. Person.
WHAT DOES LOSEMEAN?
Coachesrecruiting high school football players like to tell young prospects thatthey'll be joining a winning "program" if they come to old HardnoseTech, but too often they have to admit, "Well, yes, we were upset byWishbone U."
Not so for thestaff at Texas A&I of Kingsville, Texas. The Javelinas, champion of theNAIA, have won 39 straight games, the longest winning streak in collegefootball. The streak is so long that the veterans returning to the squad nextfall possess in common a unique status among college players. None has everplayed in a losing game. Now that is what you call a winning program.
Bill Talbert,former tennis star and one-time captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, is worriedabout the infighting in his game. Noting the plethora of governingorganizations in tennis—ATP, WTA, ILTF, MIPTC, USTA, TDA, as well as sponsoredtours such as the Colgate Grand Prix, World Championship Tennis and theVirginia Slims circuit—he says, "The struggle for power and control of thegame is heating up again."
Talbertrecommends a "single unified circuit and a strong, well-funded satellitetour." He feels it is vitally important that the pros have the opportunityto compete in a different tournament every week of the year, without having toworry about conflicting events. He wants Davis Cup competition included in thetournament schedule. He wants a system of credits for good play so top playerscan qualify automatically for major tournaments, as top golfers do.
The satellitetour would let untested players—the Everts and Connors of tomorrow—hone theirskills and develop tournament toughness. "Every kid can hit the ballwell," Talbert says, "but some are exceptional. With the chance to playregularly in satellite events, it wouldn't be long before such kids move upinto major competition. Right now, with so many events starting with fields ofonly 16 players, it is almost impossible for an unknown to get a shot at astar."
Commercialsupport of the game would continue under Talbert's plan, but a player mightappear in a WCT tourney one week, an ATP tourney the next, and so on. Certainevents would be mandatory for top players, just as certain golf events are"designated" must events for golf stars.
"Tennis willsurvive in spite of itself," Talbert says, "but for it to flourish,greed must be replaced by the realization that the game as a whole is theimportant thing. A single unified major league is the lock. Effective,unselfish management is the key."
Zebras, theplayers call them, those men in the striped shirts with the whistles and the"flags" you see on so many plays. But who are these energetic arbitersof the law? Unlike baseball umpires, pro football officials are amateurs, in asense, for whom the game is an avocation. Take the men who ran things on thefield during last Sunday's Super Bowl, the biggest single sporting event of theyear. In real life the referee, Jim Tunney, is an assistant superintendent ofschools in Bell-flower, Calif. The umpire, Lou Palazzi, is a landscapearchitect in Scranton, Pa. The head linesman, Ed Marion, is an insurance man inPortland, Maine. Line Judge Bill Swanson is vice-president of a bank inLibertyville, Ill. Back Judge Tom Kelleher is an executive with a laminationcompany in Philadelphia. And the field judge, Armen Terzian, is director ofphysical education for schools in San Francisco.
Zebras are yourneighbors. Be gentle with them.
Sooner or latersomething will have to be done about football helmets, and if Dr. Don Cooper,team physician at Oklahoma State, has his way, it will be sooner. Helmets andshoulder pads are supposed to be protective armor for players, but Cooperargues persuasively that they have become offensive weapons and that they causefar too many injuries. For example, he says the rib injury the PittsburghSteelers' Franco Harris suffered against Baltimore—which kept him out of theAFC championship game with Oakland—was caused by the impact of a rock-hardhelmet.
Cooper evensuggests that the future of football is threatened by injuries caused by hardhelmets. He cites a $4.5-million dollar judgment (now under appeal) against afootball-helmet manufacturer in a suit brought in Florida and says two othersporting goods manufacturers have stopped making helmets because of lawsuits.He believes other manufacturers may follow the same route. "Withouthelmets," he says, "we'll have no football."
Cooper wants softouter-shell helmets made mandatory; he also favors soft outer-shell shoulderpads. "We have soft thigh and hip pads, and there's no reason why we can'thave soft helmets and shoulder pads, too." He says the chief opponents ofsoft helmets and pads are coaches. "Coaches think they need to hear thesound of hard helmets hitting together to make it sound like football," hesays. "If they want to arm the players, they might as well issue helmetslike the Germans wore in World War I, with spikes on them."
Cooper notes thatsome people say the soft helmets tend to stick and therefore cause neckinjuries. "That's not true," Cooper says, "but even if it were, allthat the manufacturers would have to do is coat the soft shell with Teflon, andit would slide just like hard helmets do."
THEY SAID IT
•Claude Charron, Quebec's Sports Minister, on thefuture of Montreal's Olympic facilities: "The stadium is a white elephant,and if you throw in the velodrome and swimming pool, you have to say I'm incharge of a herd of white elephants."
•Bruce Munro, former Harvard basketball assistant,asked what kind of player West Virginia Governor Jay Rockefeller was when hewas on the Crimson squad in the '50s: "He was tall."
•Weeb Ewbank, former Colt and Jet coach, on life inretirement in Ohio: "All that's happening to me is that my self-windingwatch has run down."