Next month a U.S. swimming team is scheduled to compete in dual meets in East Germany and Russia. The coach was to be Doc Counsilman, the famed Indiana University coach who directed our men swimmers in the Montreal Olympics. But the AAU has announced it is dismissing Counsilman. Why? Because he went to South Africa last fall and conducted clinics—for white and black coaches. The Fédération Internationale de Natation, to which the U.S. belongs and which opposes sports contacts with South Africa because of the government's apartheid policy, has suspended Counsilman from any international competition until September 1979.
Said Counsilman, "It would be easier for everybody if I just quietly stepped aside." But he is not going to; indeed, he is threatening to sue the AAU to be restored as coach for the East Germany-Russia swimming meets. He has this suggestion: "The AAU could say, If you don't take our coach, you won't get our team.' I think coaches have to stop being made sacrificial lambs just to keep up goodwill with all of the foreign sports associations."
Counsilman contends there have been other occasions when nations have stood up to the international organization and won, and that this could and should be one of the times. "It is typical of American politics that we always back off and never take a stand," he asserts.
July 24, 1977
It may be argued that Counsilman is putting himself above the sport by contemplating actions that could torpedo the competitions. But the truth may be that the AAU has meekly yielded to a bluff in its anxiety not to rock the boat and perhaps deprive U.S. swimmers of valuable international competition.
Says Counsilman, "I don't think the Russians should be allowed to select the coach of the U.S. team."
Counsilman is clearly right in principle (he says he went to South Africa as a private citizen and not as a representative of the AAU or any other group). At the very least, the AAU should mount a spirited defense in his behalf.
Usually if you put $2 on a 50-to-1 shot, you tear up your ticket after the race. But last week at the Atlantic City racetrack, every loser had a chance to, well, lose even bigger. In an effort to show some appreciation and recognition of its also-rans, the track offered a number of prizes. They were enough to dampen any loser's hopes of winning. The top prize was a 1959 Edsel and it went to Mrs. Juliet Perri of Philadelphia, who was absolutely underwhelmed.
For other (un)lucky losers who selected the post positions of horses finishing last by the most lengths (racegoers filled out cards with their choices but bet no money), additional plums included a crate of lemons; a free tow off the Walt Whitman Bridge; a BORN TO LOSE tattoo applied to either arm; a pair of tickets to the 1978 Super Bowl (providing Philadelphia is in it) and a one-way trip to San Clemente.
NO ACADEMIC HAMSTRINGS
Houston McTear, co-holder of the hand-timed 100-yard-dash world record of 9.0, is showing some foot in the classrooms of Santa Monica (Calif.) City College. Not only did he pass Afro-Dance during his first academic year, but he earned an A for track, which somehow seems justified.
THE LONGEST MATCH
Last year, Bill Austin, tennis pro at the Club Continental in Orange Park, Fla., broke his neck in a car wreck, and doctors thought his walking days might be over, not to mention his tennis days. This month, Bill Austin, 35, played tennis for 103 hours, 23 minutes, eclipsing the former world record by more than three hours.
Club members paid $10 an hour to provide the continuing competition (proceeds went to the American Cancer Society) and to savor the joy of beating their own pro—sometimes. Austin's record for the 1,835 games was 1,236 wins, 599 losses. Under the rules, he was entitled to a five-minute break each hour.
Is so much tennis fun? Says Austin, "Not at all. I certainly don't advise anyone to do it."
The people who run the Atlanta International Raceway have decided to try an experiment. For their Dixie 500 on Nov. 6, there will be a special section for non-drinkers. The idea came from fan response to a questionnaire: many expressed disgust with high-spirited fellow spectators.
Bobby Batson of Atlanta International says, "Race fans can get pretty obnoxious if they've been drinking all day." Atlanta newspaper columnist Lewis Grizzard suggests that tipplers detected in the no-booze zone have their Confederate flags burned and be declared ineligible for the Cale Yarborough look-alike contest after the race.
Bob Hope, spokesman for the Atlanta Braves, was reminded that he once got a suggestion that the Braves should "divide the stadium into two sides—one for the decent people and one for the indecent folks."
Chris Ault, football coach at the University of Nevada, Reno, is telling everyone who will listen, "We'll play this fall with enthusiasm and reckless abandon." That's O.K. Summer football talk is cheap. But then he adds, "And if you go to a game and don't think we played with enthusiasm, we'll give you your money back."
With 8,000 fans at $4 a head expected for each contest, a game could be a $32,000 debacle if hustle content is low, the seven-game home season a potential $224,000 disaster. Says Ault, "I just know we aren't going to fail."
Even in depressed moments he only allows himself to think of "maybe one or two" refunds. To get money back, a disgruntled ticket-holder must report to Ault's office Monday morning and explain to the coach what was wrong. But what if 1,000 people are waiting at Ault's door some Monday? "That's no problem at all," he says, "because I will have already been fired."
WAITING FOR BRAD
The name Brad Maxwell may not mean much to many, but it meant nearly everything to the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL and the Birmingham Bulls of the competing WHA. And the other day there was plenty of competition.
It began when Maxwell took a plane from Vancouver to Birmingham to talk terms with the Bulls. In the meantime his agent, Bill Watters, had informed the North Stars that the 20-year-old defense-man would have a two-hour layover in Chicago en route. Perhaps, said Watters, the North Star brass would like to feast their eyes on a kid who might win somebody a Stanley Cup someday. The North Stars' president, general manager and treasurer all discovered they had nothing better to do that particular evening than to go to Chicago.
Maxwell was three hours late getting to Chicago. From time to time Watters would say, "If we can work out a deal, there is no reason for Maxwell to go to Birmingham at all." Then things would sag and Watters would say, "I guess we're going to have to go to Birmingham." The Minnesotans hated that idea, for they feared the size of the Birmingham bankroll. By the time Maxwell showed up, the deal was made and all Brad had to do was sign a three-year contract worth an estimated $275,000, shake a few hands and return home.
In Alabama, meanwhile, the vigil continued. The mayor was ready with the keys to the city, a helicopter was standing by to show Brad the wonders of the Southern countryside, telegrams were there from such Alabama celebrities as Kenny Stabler, Hubie Green, Johnny Musso and George Wallace. And oh, yes, Miss Alabama, Julia Houston, was poised to join Maxwell for dinner at Birmingham's best, The Club.
As impartial observers, we have no opinion on which team young Maxwell should have joined, but we can't help but wish he would at least have visited Birmingham and met Miss Alabama. Who knows what that would have led to.
"Baseball players," says Philadelphia Phillie Outfielder Jay Johnstone, "are probably in the worst condition of any professional athletes." Part of the problem is they don't want to lift weights and get bulky. Rather, they want to be flexible. So some teams have flexibility coaches.
At Philadelphia he is Gus Hoefling, who used to perform the same task with the football Eagles. But the path to flexibility is strenuous. Says Hoefling in an interview in The Philadelphia Inquirer, "We take every muscle to momentary failure." While doing this, he suddenly probes around an athlete's throat. "Some guys say they can't stand any more. But maybe they can. So when I feel the trachea collapse, I know they've really finally reached their limit."
Gus' own limits are well known. He lies on the floor and lets people stand on his neck. Which attracts a certain amount of attention at parties.
Triple Crowns for horses are rare (only 10 in history); so are Tulane football victories over LSU. Perhaps it is fitting, therefore, that the events seem to be linked. Tulane has had only two wins over the bullies from Baton Rouge since 1943—in 1948 when Citation won the Triple Crown, and in 1973 when Secretariat won.
Now with Seattle Slew's Triple this year, Tulane Coach Larry Smith is buoyed: "I've always been superstitious. I believe in good signs and bad signs."
At LSU, where the Tigers hold a huge 48-19-7 alltime advantage over Tulane, Coach Charley McClendon counters, "A horse race will not determine the outcome of our game with Tulane."
Tune in when the teams go to the post Nov. 19.
Since the 1930s there have been at least four major attempts to establish a professional rodeo league. None came close to making the whistle.
Undaunted, a California-based group is putting together teams in six cities (franchise cost: $75,000) from K.C. to L.A. with the intention of starting competition next March. Annual operating costs are estimated at $350,000 to $500,000 per team. Each team will have 13 competitors (10 men, three women) with a minimum salary of $6,000 each for a six-month season.
But there are problems. It is generally not satisfactory, for example, to convert sports based on individual prowess into team efforts. And when you talk of individuals, cowboys top the list. They are just not good at details, like showing up in the right city on the right night. Also, the stock used in rodeos is highly inconsistent. Some broncs and bulls buck, others don't, and even an extraordinary cowboy can't win if he draws a lackadaisical critter. These variables would work against equitable team competition.
Still, exhibiting a gambling, frontier spirit, Michael Shapiro, one of the investors, says, "We did not want to create another rodeo league to see it die." Which is what every promoter says who has ever sent an idea out of the chute.
THEY SAID IT
•Don Sutton, Dodger pitcher, told by Manager Tom Lasorda to "hang in there" after a loss to Cincinnati: "I've got to. I can't dance or sing, and we've already got a pitching coach."
•Bud Adams, Houston Oiler owner, after years of watching his offensive linemen move on the wrong count, on the signing of first draft choice Morris Towns: "Morris was an engineering major at Missouri. It'll be nice to have a lineman who understands arithmetic."
•Steve Garvey, on the gentlemanly conduct of Al Downing, his Dodger teammate: "If Al were dining alone, he'd still use his butter knife."
•Joe Morgan, to Joaquin Andujar, after the Houston pitcher picked the Reds' star base stealer off first twice in one game: "That's the first time that ever happened to me, Joaquin. The next time I face you I'm going to steal second, I'm going to steal third, I'm going to steal home. Then I'm going to steal your underwear."