A NEED FOR CANDOR
A proposal that was voted down at the NCAA convention (page 48) would have barred full-ride athletic scholarships except on the basis of need. It lost partly because such respected administrators as Father Edmund Joyce of Notre Dame spoke against it, citing the cheating that went on whenever "need" was the basis of athletic scholarships.
The arguments were strong enough to defeat the proposal, but an important point was missed. "Need" is wrong for Big Football (and Big Basketball), but not just because it encourages cheating and deceit. Any number of things can do that. The practice of players selling game tickets they had been given used to be winked at as a harmless way for the boys to pick up pocket money. Now it is charged that at some schools where sellouts are assured, coaches have organized the process and made it into a sales pitch for recruits, promising them a considerable income from ticket sales.
No, cheating isn't the reason why "need" is wrong. It is wrong because it is hypocritical, at least at the Big Sport level. One delegate arguing in its favor said, "The football player should be treated just like other students" and should not be looked upon as a "hired hand." That's the orthodox view, and that's the crux of the problem. In Big Football and Big Basketball, the players are not "just like other students." They are hired hands, paid in the cheapest way possible, through scholarships and other aid, to spend untold hours beyond the classroom performing valuable services for the university. Those services—perfectly legitimate—help generate the income for the university's multimillion-dollar athletic budget. The wrong—and the deceit—lies in not being willing to acknowledge that fact.
January 31, 1977
The bitter cold afflicting a good part of the country (page 18) is having its effect on wildlife. No one will know for sure what the toll will be until the spring thaw, but heavy fish kills are expected in Midwestern ponds and lakes because the sun cannot penetrate the thick ice cover to allow submerged plants to produce oxygen. In Illinois, Lake Le-Aqua-Na has a record 27 inches of ice. In Nebraska, Norm Stucky, a fisheries biologist, reports that some ponds "probably are frozen right down to the bottom." In Wisconsin, wildlife specialist Ron Nicotera says that because of abnormally low water conditions and the terrible cold, "beavers are having trouble because their ears and tails are freezing. If this keeps up, they ultimately fall off."
In Missouri, quail are having problems finding food and cover in the snow, and doves' feet are becoming frostbitten. In the Northeast, the heavy snow will make life difficult for small mammals such as mice and voles when the spring thaw comes. The snow mats down the grass in fields and pastures that ordinarily would serve as cover from predators.
In Pennsylvania, large numbers of owls, ordinarily nocturnal, have been seen during the day. Stan Forbes of the Pennsylvania Game Commission says, "It's evident they're looking for food." Observers also report wild turkeys and deer feeding together. The turkeys, which can't break through the deep-crusted snow, let the deer dig through to find the acorns on which both species feed.
Even the Atlantic Ocean has been affected by the weather. Off Maryland, codfish, ordinarily found about six miles from shore, have moved 20 miles out, seeking warmer water.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Defying the winter, Manager Whitey Herzog and several of his Kansas City Royals ignored sub-zero temperatures and went fishing at Lake Taneycomo in Missouri. The lake is ice free because of heat from power generators upstream. Shortstop Fred Patek, at 5'4" the smallest player in the major leagues, caught the biggest fish, an 8½-pound rainbow trout. Manager Bill Virdon of the Houston Astros, who skipped the fishing but arrived in time to join the others at dinner, was given the Richie Allen Failure To Show Up Award.
Detroit Tiger Centerfielder Ron LeFlore, who served time for robbery in Southern Michigan State Prison before his remarkable success as a professional ballplayer, was supposed to be the special guest of Dick (Night Train) Lane, the old pro football player, at a Detroit Sports Broadcasters luncheon. When it was Lane's turn to speak he explained to the audience that LeFlore would have been there except that his car had been broken into and he had gone to a police station to report the crime.
The sight of a prodigiously muscled man posing in bikini shorts is enough to reduce most people to giggles—or sneers. But a new movie called Pumping Iron, which deftly portrays the personalities and rigorous training of several top bodybuilders, could change that attitude. Based on the book of the same name by Charles Gaines and George Butler, the movie focuses on Arnold Schwarzenegger, a 29-year-old Austrian with muscle mania and a boyish smile, who in the film is attempting to win his sixth successive "Mr. Olympia" title. We see his steadfast preparations to defend his crown, as well as the efforts of his heartiest challenger, 25-year-old Louis Ferrigno, a 6'5", 270-pound Brooklyn kid, whose every move is dictated by an anxious father.
While Pumping Iron, aided by an energetic sound track, is done in a documentary style, it is not a literal report. "I play a composite of several characters," Schwarzenegger says. "For instance, a scene where I say I 'didn't attend the funeral of my father because I didn't want to break training was a true event, but it didn't happen to me. What the film is trying to show is what bodybuilders have to do, and how they do it."
What they have to do is work, hour after hour, and Pumping Iron is graphic in its portrayal of the sweaty, grunting, teeth-baring efforts involved in building muscles in crowded, noisy gymnasiums. Not narcissism, but tension and fear seem most evident in the competition itself. When Ferrigno finished a disappointed third behind the victorious Schwarzenegger, his father Matty mutters something about "next year."
Next year the confident Schwarzenegger, who with the showmanship of a Muhammad Ali tells the crowd after his win that he is retiring, hopes to be well launched on an acting career. Maybe he'll make it. In any case, this year you ought to go see him in this film.
The basketball coach at George Washington University, a pleasant man named Bob Tallent, is having trouble with three freshmen on his squad despite its 9-5 record. According to Tom Boswell of The Washington Post, the players are driving Tallent to distraction, keeping him awake half the night, making him set curfews and forcing him to change his rules. Misbehaving? Not at all. It's simply that Tallent can't get them to stop studying.
"I've threatened to ban books on road trips," he jokes. "I have had to put in a studying curfew. They can bring the books, but they've got to stop working by midnight."
Tallent, who played for Adolph Rupp at Kentucky, likes to recall a tongue-in-cheek bawling out Rupp used to give him when Tallent was trying to blend his engineering studies with basketball. "I'd be late for practice," Tallent says, "and Rupp would lock the gym. I'd stand there shaking the door, and Adolph would say, 'Hark, sounds like our student engineer at the gate. Hey, Tallent, what did you come here for—to play ball or study?' "
Tallent's George Washington player-students include 6'7" Tom Glenn, who says he no longer "fears math," 6'4" Bucky Roman, an electrical-engineering major with a grade average of 3.8 out of 4.0 ("I can't believe I got that B in calculus," he moans) and 6'10" Mike Zagardo, a pre-med student. "Ziggie was in the motel room above me the night before the first start of his college career," Tallent says. "I could hear him moving around. I thought he was pacing because he couldn't sleep and taking hot showers to relax. Turned out he was studying chemistry until 3:30 a.m. and taking cold showers to keep awake."
Zagardo got a lecture the next day from the coach, who advised him to "Study when the sun is up and sleep when it's down." Nodding dutifully, Zagardo muttered, "I've got to get this pre-med thing in perspective and get serious about my ball."
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT
World Team Tennis claims that its 60 men and women players may well be the highest-paid athletes in the U.S. Since the average WTT player makes only $46,000, it takes a little mathematical sleight of hand to reach that conclusion. Well, says the WTT, our season lasts 13 weeks, which means the average WTT player is making $3,538 a week. Multiply that by 52 weeks and it means a WTTer is being paid at the rate of $184,000 a year.
Of course, the WTT admits its people don't make that $3,538 all year round. But in the weeks that they're not they can wear their sneakers out playing World Championship Tennis (men), Virginia Slims (women), Wimbledon, Forest Hills and a lot of other tournaments.
What the WTT is trying to establish with all this finoodling is simply that while everyone knows tennis players are earning a bunch of money nowadays, the WTT is where a good part of that money is. Its top 11 men averaged better than $86,000 last year, its top 10 women better than $80,000. For 13 weeks' work. Not bad.
Spectators at a golf tournament sometimes get more exercise than the pros playing in it do. Unless you're content to join Arnie's Army or Lee's Fleas and stay with one golfer all afternoon, you can spend half the day charging back and forth from fairway to fairway trying to catch up with the player you really want to watch.
Now, thanks to Suntory, a Japanese whiskey company, and the folks who run the Hawaiian Open, those frantic pursuits may soon be a thing of the past. When play begins next Thursday in Hawaii, spectators who want to follow a particular hero can check either of two "Player Locator Boards." Not to be confused with scoreboards, or leader boards, each of the 8-by-16-foot locator boards at the Waialae Country Club will show a large map of the course on which every golfer's progress—from tee to fairway to green on each hole—will be followed by magnetic markers numbered to correspond with the golfer's number on the daily pairing sheet. And that means the fan can zoom off cross-country and join the gallery around his favorite without going through that old, numbing by-guess-and-by-God search from hole to hole. The scoreboards will benefit from this massive information input, too, because more field operatives with radios than ever before will be scattered around the course, and they'll be updating scores along with locations.
Credit for introducing this laudable gadget to the U.S. belongs to United Airlines, sponsor of the Hawaiian Open, but it was just put into use at the Suntory Open last September. We are obliged to report that Suntory has exported one other thing to Hawaii for the Open—a commemorative whiskey bottle shaped like a hula girl. Aloha. It's the first such ceramic creation the company has produced, and you kind of wish they hadn't. Well, they did come up with the locator board, and that keeps them ahead of the game.
THEY SAID IT
•Howard K. Smith, ABC newscaster and a member of the President's Commission on Olympic Sports: "We're out of date. We shake our old, untended sports tree once every four years and gather whatever plums fall off. Other nations cultivate their orchards day by day, pruning, nursing, root-feeding them and harvesting ever more plums."
•Billy Carter, on the trouble he had arranging a charter flight for Georgians to his brother's Inauguration: "They told me it had to be a special event. I said, 'What's a special event?' They said, 'Like the Sugar Bowl.' "