THE PRICE OF RICE
Is Jim Rice going to become the first salaried athlete to earn $1 million a year? Could be, if Dave Parker doesn't beat him to it. The American League MVP is only 25 years old and has a mere year left on his contract. His attorney, Tony Pennacchia of Providence, has met twice recently with Red Sox General Manager Haywood Sullivan, who let Luis Tiant slip away to the Yankees, and Pennacchia says, "We have resolved some points—the length of contract and the mode of payment—but we haven't discussed salary or signing bonus. I haven't given the Red Sox a figure, but they agree they want Jim Rice to stay. The only problem is, do they have the money?"
Pennacchia knows he holds strong cards. Rice wants to stay with Boston, but Pennacchia points out, "This is the team that sold Babe Ruth. The fans are paranoid about finishing second. It's important to the psyche of the fans that Jim Rice remain in New England. Losing Jim Rice would be traumatic. If we don't come to a meeting of the minds with the Red Sox, there will come a time when Jim is so close to becoming a free agent that he will owe it to himself to see what he's worth on the open market."
The high cost of racing an Indianapolis-type car, which can amount to more than $1 million a year, has prompted a car-owners' movement that may sharply alter the 1979 season. An organization that calls itself CART, the acronym for Championship Auto Racing Teams, has declared itself free of United States Auto Club rule for next year; no small action, since USAC is the group that sanctions races and licenses drivers. And CART is not to be toyed with; its 18 members include such heavyweights as A. J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, Jim Hall and Roger Penske.
In October, CART proposed to USAC that an 11-man board, totally independent of USAC, be formed, consisting of six CART and five USAC members. This board would make engine rule-changes that would cut costs, would propose a maximum of 14 races per season (with a minimum of 13 days between races) and would demand increased purses. As it is now, New Jersey's 200-mile Trentonian pays less than $90,000 in purses, but expenses are so horrendous that even first-place money of $12,892 doesn't permit a team to break even.
USAC rejected CART's proposal and then a second proposal as well. As a result, says CART's U. E. (Pat) Patrick, who owns the cars raced by Gordon Johncock, the new organization "is going to function separately from USAC in 1979 and will run the entire Championship Trail events under a separate sanctioning organization.... We want to have some say over our destiny. The cost of auto racing has tripled in the last five years, and all USAC is interested in is who is going to pay travel expenses. We've already got two dates at Phoenix and Michigan, and we've talked to promoters at Atlanta and Ontario. We're prepared to lease tracks and do whatever we have to do to get good races."
CART's split with USAC is likely to have no effect on the Indy 500. "We have no argument with the Speedway," says Patrick. "It's the other tracks that have to worry." Dick King, USAC president, says, "I just hope we can get things ironed out before it's too late."
HEAVEN, CAN, WAITE
Harry Waite, a decoy carver in West Chester, Pa., is in no hurry to use the life-size canvasback duck he is working on now. The hollowed-out decoy, which will be set adrift on Chesapeake Bay after he dies, will carry his ashes. Already carved on the bottom is the notice: "In this decoy lies the carver, H.J. Waite, 1939-." Waite says, "I was going to whittle in the first two numbers of the last year, but I got to thinking that I just might make the year 2000. This one has to be perfect. It's mine."
Asked if he is concerned that someone might take his "urn" from the Chesapeake and use it as a working decoy, Waite says, "It's my second-greatest wish. My first wish is to see the look on the guy's face when he picks up the block and reads the inscription."
Florida Tech's women's volleyball team ended its season 48-0, solidifying its role as one of the favorites to win the AIAW Small College Championship, which will be held next week in the Orlando school's gym. Win or lose, one member of the Knights, Judy Portinga, is already a titleholder. Portinga, a 5'6" freshman, outshone 18 other entrants last summer in Freelton, Ontario to win the Miss Nude World contest.
Portinga is not the first nudist to venture into clothed volleyball, although she is probably the first Miss Nude World to do so. Because it requires little space and can be played by teammates of dissimilar skills, volleyball has always been popular at nudist clubs, which have accordingly produced some outstanding talent. Florida club rosters have long been dotted with players who learned the game in the buff, and a practicing nudist was player-coach of a strong University of Florida club team a few years back. Portinga, whose parents live near Orlando and are longtime nudists, took up the sport at the Cypress Cove Nudist Resort and became proficient enough to earn a partial athletic scholarship to Florida Tech. She isn't a starter yet, but Coach Lucy McDaniel says she shows "a lot of potential."
As Miss Nude World, Portinga has spent time on the interview circuit, adding a touch of humor ("I've seen it all") to her missionary insistence that nudism is "a very healthy and happy thing." At Florida Tech she wears mostly jeans and T shirts and says her friends think her being a nudist is "super." After playing volleyball for years clad only in tennis shoes and knee pads (nudists don't like getting hurt any more than other people), she admits to being uncomfortable wearing Tech's black and gold. "I've had trouble getting used to playing in a uniform," she says. "It's hot and kind of sticks to you."
AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST
For 25 years the Big Ten has sought to project a "scholar-athlete" image by choosing an All-Academic football team. To qualify, a player, whether star or lowly sub, has to have at least a B average for his most recent year or a B average for his entire college career. But this season the Big Ten had trouble getting nominees. Out of 1,000 players on conference rosters, only 49 qualified.
Moreover, the conference winners fared worse than the losers, which gives the unwanted impression that oafs make the best players. Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State scraped up only seven nominees among them, while last-place Northwestern (0-10-1) had 11 scholar-athletes and ninth-place Illinois seven. Three of Indiana's regular defensive backs, plus one substitute, had B averages or better. That might lead one to think that the Hoosiers' secondary had the brains to outsmart opponents. In fact, Indiana ranked eighth in conference pass defense.
Has Jim Fixx, author of The Complete Book of Running—more than 700,000 hard-cover copies sold so far—been co-opted? About 30 protesting members of the Turk Street Running Club in San Francisco obviously thought so when Fixx showed up there a fortnight ago for a 10,000-meter run sponsored by Quaker Oats. Shouting "Down with sugar" and "Fixx is fixed," the young Turks distributed leaflets charging that in his book Fixx rejected excessive use of sugar but now endorses Quaker's "100% Natural," which contains 21% or more sugar. The Turks also claimed that Fixx was getting $3,000 to run in the race. Although none of them could cite a source for that figure, their mention of money was sufficient to frighten off some runners fearful of losing their AAU status. Of the 5,000 runners on hand, 400 started 11 minutes ahead of the main group in what the Turks called the first protest against the commercialization of running.
Fixx, who did not plan to run in the race because of a pulled muscle, is baffled by the furor. "They quoted me as if I'm against sugar," he says. "I'm not against sugar at all. I had the biggest piece of chocolate cake that you ever saw at dinner last night. Carbohydrates, including sugar, are the main source of energy for endurance running. But you don't draw upon it until 12 to 18 hours after you eat it. A lot of runners eat sugar, including Bill Rodgers, the best in the world."
Furthermore, adds Fixx, Quaker Oats does not pay him for running, but for endorsements and hosting. An AAU member for the last decade, Fixx says he is breaking no rules because he is capitalizing on his reputation as an author, not on his ability as a runner. "A close friend tells me I have no running ability," says Fixx. "I'm lucky to break 40 minutes for 10,000 meters, and that's terrible."
BOW WOW WOW
Frank Merriwell would be aghast. Dear old Yale is beset by budget problems, and Frank Ryan, the ex-Cleveland Brown quarterback who became athletic director little more than a year ago, is trimming the sports program. One of the most extensive in the country, the varsity program has 32 full-time coaches and numerous part-timers, and Ryan would like to have more of the latter. Recently Ryan told Don Tonry, who has served 16 years as the men's gymnastics coach, that he would become a part-timer next year. Tonry decided that Ryan couldn't do that without notice. He took his case to a university grievance committee and won.
Temporarily, it turned out. Within the week, Associate Provost Radley H. Daly overruled the committee. The Yale Daily News, which had chided Ryan for tightening up on the athletic department "even if morale suffers," noted in an editorial, "A part-time job is an empty offer to a person who must earn a living. Ryan and Daly should find full-time work for Tonry in the athletic department, for which his skills are best suited."
Undergraduate and graduate students on the Users Committee on Athletics, which presented Ryan with a petition signed by more than 1,200 students demanding fair treatment for Tonry, have been meeting with the athletic director to discuss the case and other issues, such as the possible dismissal of Judo Coach Insoo Hwang, the lack of a baseball coach, and sports priorities. The issues have yet to be resolved, but Lisa Hamlin, '80, acting committee head, says of Ryan, "I think he is finally realizing the importance of consulting more people in his decision-making process, people who are close to the issues, such as students and coaches."
What cities have the most knowledgeable baseball fans? What city has the most unfriendly football fans? Bob McMahon of Ridley Park, Pa., a former economics professor turned stockbroker, polled 172 professional baseball, football, hockey and basketball players to find the answers to these and other questions. The players included Pete Rose, Mark Fidrych, Julius Erving, Dave Cowens, Fran Tarkenton, O. J. Simpson, Brad Park and Pete Mahovlich. The envelopes, please.
In the National League, Philadelphia was voted as having both the most enthusiastic and the most unfriendly fans, while Chicago fans were considered most knowledgeable. In the American League, Boston had the most enthusiastic fans, while New York had both the most knowledgeable and the most unfriendly.
In the NFL, Denver had by far the most enthusiastic fans, Dallas the most knowledgeable and Oakland the most unfriendly. In the NBA, Portland had the most enthusiastic fans, New York the most knowledgeable and San Antonio the most unfriendly.
In the NHL, Montreal had the most knowledgeable fans, while Philadelphia, repeating its National League ratings, was voted as having the most enthusiastic and the most unfriendly. "The fans in Canada and America are different," Dave (Tiger) Williams of the Toronto Maple Leafs told McMahon. "The fans are younger in America. They are older and more sophisticated in Canada. There is not much enthusiasm in Canada. There is also no beer in Toronto."
THEY SAID IT
•Tracy Steele, who has lost six of nine pro fights but isn't about to hang up his gloves: "I have the heart of a racehorse trapped inside the body of a jackass."