TROUBLE FOR CBS
The Federal Communications Commission is getting ready to sock it to CBS. The FCC found last week that the network had "deceived the public" by promoting four tennis matches as "winner take all" when in fact all the players had been guaranteed money beforehand. The FCC also found that CBS had violated commission rules by plugging Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where three of the matches took place, without announcing this was in exchange for "promotional considerations," i.e., the hotel let network executives and crews freeload.
Because of these shenanigans, the FCC indicated it might not grant full-term license renewal for one or more of the five highly profitable stations CBS owns outright. "The people at CBS are terrified," says a television insider. "Those stations are the money tree."
Moreover, Bob Wussler announced last week that he was resigning as president of CBS Sports, ostensibly to form his own production company. Many in the industry regard Wussler's resignation as an attempt by the network to placate the FCC, but what really is puzzling is the talk that Barry Frank may move up from his position as senior vice-president for Sports to succeed Wussler. Before joining CBS, Frank worked for Trans World International, which helped package the first "winner-take-all" match. If CBS chooses Frank, says the insider, "They'd be saying, 'We got rid of Wussler because he's supposed to have finagled. Now we're replacing him with the guy who really finagled.' They should be out looking for Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis."
KIRK GOUDIE OF BNC
Now for NBC. University of Kansas basketball fans are livid about sportscaster Curt Gowdy making a hash of the names of Jayhawk players in the team's 83-76 loss to UCLA at the NCAA regionals in Eugene, Ore. As folks in Kansas screamed, Gowdy repeatedly referred to Darnell Valentine as Darrell Valentine, Donnie Von Moore as Donnie Van Moore, Scott Anderson as Kim Anderson and Wilmore Fowler as Wilmer Fowler. Ken Koenigs—Kaynigs phonetically—came over the air as both Coinig and Coinigs and Gowdy called Clint Johnson, who played brilliantly, Clint Jones.
As angry viewers called KARD-TV in Wichita, an NBC affiliate, station officials tried to reach network headquarters in New York, hoping the brass there could relay the correct names and pronunciations to Gowdy in Eugene. "But they told us in New York they couldn't reach Gowdy," a KARD spokesman says.
Jayhawk fans are not the only ones expressing their displeasure at Gowdy's performance. "It was not the caliber of work we expect in an NCAA telecast," says Tom Jernstedt of the NCAA. Sports editor Bob Hentzen of the Topeka Daily Capital wrote in his column last week, "...hoping Kirk Goudie does better with the names on his next basketball telecast." Don Baker, the KU sports information director, says he spent more than 30 minutes the day before the game briefing Gowdy on the players' names. Gowdy bollixed up the names then, but Baker says Gowdy assured him, "Don't worry, I'll have it all straightened out tomorrow."
Last Saturday, during halftime of the Kentucky-Michigan State game on NBC, Gowdy announced that although he wasn't running for governor of Kansas, he wanted to apologize to the KU basketball team for mispronouncing "two or three names."
The Philadelphia Flyers are thinking of dumping Kate Smith. Since 1969 her recording and live rendition of God Bless America have spurred the Flyers to a 49-6-2 mark. But in the last two playoffs the once reliable Kate failed to come through, and this season her record has been played just once. That was before a game against Pittsburgh that ended in a 4-4 tie.
Lou Scheinfeld, the Philadelphia vice-president charged with making such momentous decisions, now seriously doubts that God Bless America will ever be heard again at the Spectrum. "Kate gave it her all, but I think she's finished," says Scheinfeld. "If she can't even beat Pittsburgh, it's time for her to hang up her tonsils."
A FAN IS A FAN IS A FAN
The sign outside the house in the St. Louis suburb of Webster Groves says: AMERICAN BEAUTY, 2966. The house belongs to Daniel Krueckeberg, 34, who is a Rose fancier, not the flower but the Cincinnati Reds star, Pete. Krueckeberg, an assistant professor of education at St. Louis University, must be the most enthusiastic Reds fan not living in Cincinnati and surely the biggest Pete Rose fan anywhere. The four-digit number on his sign, for instance, is Rose's lifetime hit total.
Krueckeberg's attachment to the Reds began as a boy when his parents took him to see a game at Crosley Field. In 1963 he was standing in the ticket line praising the talents of Rose, a rookie about to make his major league debut, when the man in front of him introduced himself as Pete's father. That did it. Krueckeberg has followed Rose's career like a bloodhound ever since.
Last year he sent out a 20-question quiz to his friends, every answer to which was Rose. A sample: Who is the only player to be named an All-Star at three different positions? In his will Krueckeberg is leaving all his baseball mementos to Rose.
"I don't see myself as a fanatic," he says. "Other people just don't take baseball seriously enough."
There are a lot of nervous people at Detroit's Hazel Park racetrack. It all started one morning last week when Debbie Hicks, a 23-year-old exercise girl and an avid horse enthusiast, went on a local radio talk show to promote a horse show in Pontiac. When host J. P. McCarthy casually asked if she gambled, Hicks replied, "No, I work too hard for my money. And I know I can't trust the jockeys in the race and the other owners and trainers." For the remainder of the interview, Hicks blasted away. She accused jockeys of holding horses and said that track stewards "looked the other way." She charged that horses are either drugged or "hit" with a "machine," a battery with two prongs, to make them run faster. "If you have a pair of binoculars and you watch closely, you can actually watch a horse get hit with a machine," she said. The amazed McCarthy concluded the interview by saying, "It's refreshing to run into someone like you."
Off the air, Hicks expanded her charges. She said she calculated that six claiming races a week were fixed last season but refused to name names, saying, "I don't want to hurt people who have no other way of making a living except racing." The Michigan racing commission, which immediately began an investigation, held a four-hour meeting with Hicks and her lawyer. She refused to give the commission any names but she did describe alleged incidents. "She gave us a time frame to work within," says Deputy Commissioner Jim Higginbottom, "and right now we're going through records trying to find something that will coincide with what she has said."
Snowed out of a swim meet against Indiana State, the seventh time his team had been snowed out this season, Coach Fred Kahms of Purdue had a brainstorm. He called Duane Barrows, the coach at Indiana State, and they arranged to compete by phone.
On the day of the meet Barrows called Kahms at Purdue, and they stayed on the line for two hours and 15 minutes. Before each race the coaches would announce their swimmers, leave the phone, go to the pool for the race and return to the phone with the times in order to figure the placements. "Each school had all the same officials they would have at a regular competition," Kahms says. "We each had timers, referees, a starter and even a public-address announcer who would tell the fans before each race who the swimmers were supposed to be in the empty lanes."
For diving, each school used its own judges. Indiana State won the diving competition by half a point, but Purdue won the meet 68-45. Despite the lack of live rivals, freshman Bob Norris set a Purdue record in the 200-yard butterfly (1:54.8), and Tom Nelson of Indiana State set a school mark in the 200-yard freestyle (1:45.0). The phone bill came to about $25. Barrows figures if his team had traveled the 100 miles to West Lafayette from Terre Haute, it would have cost Indiana State $200.
Dr. Glenn Dawson, director of physiological studies at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, has some news for those who maintain that race-car drivers are athletes. Dawson says they are not, at least not in terms of their physical conditioning.
He conducted a series of tests among a random sampling of 10 NASCAR Grand National drivers and a cross section of the public in the same general age group. The results showed that the stock-car driver is above average in grip strength and abdominal endurance, but below average in cardiovascular fitness. In all other pertinent categories, the stock-car driver was just as average as the public. In the reaction-time test, in which a person has to press his thumb on a button when a light comes on, the drivers averaged .0192 second, slightly slower than the control group average of .0167 second. Dawson says the difference is not statistically significant, but it does disprove the idea that professional drivers have quick reactions. Dawson also compared test results on the drivers with those of other athletes. The average body fat content of the drivers is 24%, while in professional basketball or football players it is only 10% to 11%. In the grip strength test, the drivers pulled an average of 132 pounds, but Dawson says professional basketball players can almost double that.
Concludes Dawson, "I've never seen a good definition of just what an athlete is. If your definition is someone with strength, power, agility, the ability to run the fastest or jump the farthest, then drivers don't have it."
"This is very serious. Every day new horses are turning up positive," says Dr. Tom Swerczek of the University of Kentucky's veterinary science department. Counters Tom Harris, state Commissioner of Agriculture, "It's not as serious as we thought." A difference of opinion makes a horse race, but what is happening in Kentucky now is far more serious than a horse race. An outbreak of CEM—contagious equine metritis, a venereal disease—is threatening 7,500 broodmares and almost 50 million-dollar stallions.
On March 8, Dr. Swerczek notified the state that he had isolated the culture of an organism that causes CEM. The culture came from Going Gallant, a mare that had been bred eight days earlier to Caro, an imported French stallion standing at Spendthrift Farm. Further tests caused a total of 66 mares and seven stallions to be quarantined across the state, and Commissioner Harris imposed a two-week moratorium on breeding.
CEM first appeared in Europe two years ago. Last September the U.S. Department of Agriculture placed a ban on horses entering this country from France, Ireland and England, where the National Stud had to shut down. But 471 thoroughbreds already had been imported from those countries since June of 1976, when the first cases of CEM were reported in France.
CEM can prevent pregnancy and kill embryonic foals. No vaccine exists and treatment is complicated. Worse, CEM is hard to detect.
Last week, at a meeting of 1,000 horsemen in Keeneland, Dr. John Griggs, a Lexington vet, drew loud applause when he called for breeding to continue. "We're talking economics," he said. "I see a lot of bankers out there, and I have notes with many of them. I can survive with 40% reproduction, but I can't survive with zero %." Two days after the meeting, Commissioner Harris said he would lift the breeding moratorium after the two-week ban elapsed. Said the commissioner, "If we can't eradicate CEM, we'll learn how to live with it."
THEY SAID IT
•Guy Lewis, University of Houston basketball coach, after a 100-77 loss to Notre Dame: "The only good thing about it was, if there were any recruits looking in, they know we need help."