KING, BUT NO KING
This is an article from the March 20, 1978 issue
As the proposed Leon Spinks-Muhammad Ali fight wends its farcical way from Bophutha Tswana to Mauritius to whither next, a basic misconception has arisen. It is that if Ali realized that Bophutha Tswana (mercifully known as Boff) was a puppet regime set up by South Africa to perpetuate apartheid or that South African money was behind the fight, whether it be staged in Boff or Mauritius, he would not set foot in either country. "It is inconceivable that Muhammad Ali could accept South African money," said a black South African expatriate. And Charles Lomax, Ali's attorney, said, "If people like the NAACP say it would not be in the best interests of black Americans, we won't fight there. We are going to be responsive to valid concerns because that's what Ali stands for."
Well, maybe. Ali is praiseworthy on many counts, but this is hardly one of them. For example, in 1972, after having acquiesced to the desires of black African nations and canceled a fight in South Africa, Ali engaged in some naive and self-indulgent finger-wagging. "I don't think it's fair for me," he said, "to turn down some $400,000 or $500,000 to personally sacrifice for them and their causes without them doing something. Like if we have another Attica case, I want those African nations to stand up for us here.... The next time something big happens to black people in this country and all those African and Moslem nations don't speak up for us, after we stood up for them.... I'm going to tell them what they can do, and I'm going over there to South Africa and have a great time."
Nor is Ali a black Gene McCarthy, as many of his admirers hold him up to be. He refused to go into the Army in 1967 not because he thought the Vietnam war immoral, but because at that time Black Muslims tried to avoid service, claiming they had no truck with wars that weren't waged against enemies of Allah, and because the Muslims convinced Ali that some cracker sergeant would try to kill him in an "accident" on the grenade range. The celebrated quote—"I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Congs"—was wheedled out of him by persistent reporters.
For the most part, Ali developed his anti-war—as opposed to anti-induction or pro-Ali—stance when he picked up vibrations from audiences on college campuses where he gave speeches while he was unjustly prevented from fighting for a living. Similarly, he does not have the selflessness or fixity of purpose to be an effective advocate of civil rights, a role that has been thrust upon him by his idolaters and one that is largely the result of wishful thinking.
This is not to belittle Ali, who in several conspicuous ways is, indeed, The Greatest. But as Julian Bond, of all people, wrote years ago: "Look at that gal shake that thing/Everybody can't be Martin Luther King."
One thing the three youths trying to burglarize the downstairs apartment in New London, Conn. failed to consider was the man living upstairs. As they fled with stereo equipment, they heard someone yelling for them to stop. When they did not, the chase began.
Through snowdrifts, across backyards and over fences, Ambrose Burfoot pursued one of the thieves. "I kept shouting, 'I'm gonna catch you. I'm gonna catch you,' " says Burfoot. "I didn't have time to tell him who I was."
Burfoot, 31, was the winner of the 1967 IC4A cross-country title and the 1968 Boston Marathon. On the day of the burglary he was home for lunch, watching his infant son while his wife jogged with the family dog, when he heard suspicious noises downstairs. Burfoot, who like most addicted runners generally wears running shoes, finally caught up with the culprit after about half a mile. He turned him over to the police, who later caught his partners in the break-in.
Says Burfoot, "I considered it a personal affront that they thought they could escape from my house on foot."
Ogden Nash, deciding that man must look pretty strange to a hippopotamus, once concluded:
Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus!
We really look all right to us,
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotami.
Now we have Charley Rosheger of Beaumont, Texas deciding that man's view of the duck is decidedly not a duck's view of a duck. Decoys, he feels, are absurd, at least from a duck's point of view, which is flying over them. The problem is there are no feet showing.
"The hunter is looking at them from the wrong angle," says Rosheger. "From a duck's-eye view, it's amazing how well you see the feet. Feet on decoys will take a little bit of the wariness away from the naturally wild duck."
Rosheger has tested his theory. He made some feet out of rubber, attached them to decoys and lent decoys to a number of friends.
"One group put a dozen decoys with feet on one side of a blind and decoys without feet on the other," he says. "Every duck killed was on the feet side."
And so Rosheger has gone into business—he calls it "Fowl Feet"—producing duck feet that cost $13 for two dozen. When he gets into full production, he expects business to boom, but so far sales have been modest. Presumably too many hunters feel he's a quack.
At least one season ticket-holder of the Los Angeles Rams, still unhappy about having to lay out money for two exhibition games as well as the eight regular home games—take it or leave it, buddy—is upset again, because now he must shell out an additional $12 for an 11th game in Los Angeles, the Pro Bowl, a dreary postseason affair that has little to do with Rams football.
When asked if this was not a bit greedy, the NFL office explained that the same conditions applied for Tampa Bay and Seattle fans, where the Pro Bowl was held the past two years. What is happening is that the Pro Bowl is being rotated among warm-weather or enclosed-arena sites—and by NFL policy added to the season-ticket bite.
Every football fan knows how the pros do in the draft, but Joe Terranova of Dearborn, Mich. keeps an eye on how colleges do in recruiting. Terranova is a marketing researcher for the Ford Motor Co., and for kicks he keeps in touch with recruiters across the country and watches more than 500 high school game films a year.
For each of the past three years, Terranova has written a story for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. on which colleges land the top football prospects, and last week he offered his 1978 coast-to-coast rundown.
Southern Cal rates No. 1 in recruiting, which is not unusual. The Trojans cleaned up on quarterbacks. They got George Ponce, "the best prep QB in Southern California," plus Scott Tinsley, "the top quarterback in Oklahoma," who passed for nearly 4,000 yards in high school. What's more, Terranova says, "USC's interior line picks could play Tampa Bay to a standoff."
Texas is second in Terranova's ratings. The Longhorns' A. J. Jones, of Youngstown, Ohio, is the "best running back in the country," and Rod Tate is "a super flyer smuggled out of Beggs, Okla."
3. Tennessee: "The last time a land army the size and quality of Tennessee's was assembled, the Allies hit the beach at Anzio."
4. Penn State: "It is rumored [Linebacker Chet] Parlavecchio [from South Orange, N.J.] once challenged a school of piranhas to a game of water polo and won."
5. Michigan: "Succeeded in recruiting the top three linemen in Ohio."
6. Notre Dame: "The most highly touted fullback in the country, Pete Buchanan [from Plymouth, Ind.], will be a welcomed addition."
7. Stanford: "Kevin Bates [from Cincinnati], Ohio's Defensive Lineman of the Year, inked despite pleas from Michigan and Ohio State."
8. UCLA: Jim Turner (from Sherman, Texas), rated the best defensive back in his state, "is one of the Bruins' top grabs."
9. Ohio State: "Art Schlichter [from Washington Courthouse, Ohio] is a living 17-year-old legend. Check his stats: 6,057 yards total offense, 4,397 passing and 1,660 rushing."
10. SMU: "We thought our crystal ball had short-circuited when it registered SMU. Not so. The Mustangs can stack their line prospects up with anyone's, except Michigan's."
Late in January, John Havlicek shocked no one by announcing that this, his 16th season in the NBA, was to be his last. The Celtics' star had already played in more league games than anyone else, and on his farewell tour of NBA cities he adds to that record while giving fans one last chance to say goodby. Never before has a player retired in 23 different arenas and received such a variety of gifts.
Here is a sampling of Havlicek's booty. From the champion Trail Blazers came a set of Gerber carving knives and a fly rod. The mayor of New Orleans proclaimed a day in his honor and the Jazz handed him a gold key chain with a referee's whistle attached. Promotion-minded Atlanta held a Havlicek banner contest, the winning fan earning the honor of presenting Hondo a plaque with a shamrock at the top and No. 17 across the middle. At Rick Barry's suggestion, the Golden State players gave him a money clip with the Celtic logo, while the Warrior broadcasters presented him with a radio microphone used by Jack Benny—presumably because Havlicek will be 39 next year. Some Ohio State teammates surprised him with a rocking chair, Indiana gave him a La-Z-Boy recliner, and K.C. a whirlpool bath.
So far, however, no team has given Hondo what he wants most, an outboard motor. Of course there are still seven out-of-town stops left. NBA clubs can thank Havlicek for hyping the gate by $10,000 to $20,000 with each farewell appearance, and with found money like that, surely one can spring for the motor.
BOGEY FOR BEMAN
The PGA announced the other day that the $100,000 Buick-Goodwrench (no kidding) Open would be held in Flint, Mich. on June 15-18. Fine, except that in Denver on those same dates another golf tournament will be held—the U.S. Open. Why in the world would Mr. Goodwrench want to go up against the most important tournament of the year?
"It's not the most desirable date on the calendar," concedes Jerry Rideout, a spokesman for the Flint event, "but we didn't have much choice."
More intriguing is why Deane Beman, commissioner of the touring pros, would permit an event to conflict with the U.S. Open. Here's why. Beman, an extremely aggressive administrator, has no control over golf's four major tournaments—the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA—and this rankles him. He has therefore tried to offset their prestige by creating his own major tournaments, such as this week's TPC, an event for touring pros only, and the expanded World Series. Nothing wrong with this. But he has also sought to undermine the Big Four by scheduling a designated tournament the week after the British Open, forcing the pros to hustle back to the States.
It is no secret that Beman has tried to get USGA officials to ease the U.S. Open's exemption standards so that fewer touring pros have to qualify. The USGA has resisted him and this has not made Beman happy. In this light, Mr. Goodwrench on June 15-18 can be seen as a silly attempt to divert attention from the Open. And that's a bad deal.
THEY SAID IT
•Chi Chi Rodriguez, discussing Jack Nicklaus' infrequent tournament appearances: "He's the only golfer in history who has become a living legend in his spare time."