THE KNIGHT AFFAIR (CONT'D)
Controversy continues to dog Bobby Knight, coach of the Indiana University basketball team and the U.S. squad that won the gold medal at July's Pan-American Games in Puerto Rico. It was during the Pan-Am competition that Knight was charged with assaulting a police officer, Jose D. Silva, after the two had argued over the use of a practice facility (SI, July 23).
On Aug. 22, Knight was found guilty by San Juan District Judge Rurico Rivera, who imposed the maximum sentence, $500 and six months in jail, allowed for a misdemeanor. Through local counsel Knight had pleaded not guilty in absentia, acceptable under Puerto Rican law. His lawyer called only one witness, though there were others, including American coaches and players and two Colombian coaches, who supported Knight's contention that Silva deliberately poked him in the eye and that Knight reacted by merely pushing Silva away.
When word of the verdict reached Knight, he offered to resign as Indiana coach. Predictably, in a state where basketball is so revered and in a country where national-championship-winning coaches are too often venerated unduly, the offer was rejected—as Knight no doubt knew it would be. Almost as predictably, statements in support of Knight were issued by the governor, Otis R. Bowen, the university president, John Ryan, and F. Don Miller, executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee, which sponsors the Pan-Am teams.
September 2, 1979
In an interview with Bob Collins of the Indianapolis Star, Knight said, "There is no question in my mind that if I had gone to Puerto Rico the sentence would be exactly the same. Even forgetting the truth of the charges, it would be interesting to know the last time anyone got the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor."
Knight had made himself a villain to Puerto Ricans in July by repeatedly disparaging them and their island, and his failure to appear at the trial was interpreted as a further insult, this time to their judicial system. Judge Rivera left open the possibility of suspending the jail sentence if Knight would appear before him at a later date, but Knight insists, "There is no way under any circumstances I would ever go to Puerto Rico."
Regardless of the correctness of the charges and verdict against Knight, it is reprehensible that a governor, who has sworn to uphold the law, and a university president and an Olympic official, both of whose jobs entail dealing with, and setting good examples for, young people, should rush to support a man who is flouting the law. Puerto Rican courts are not drumhead institutions. Knight, no mean law-and-order man himself, should challenge what he considers injustice dealt him as any law-abiding citizen would—by going before Judge Rivera to hear sentence and appealing if he finds it unacceptable.
BIG MAC ATTACK
To a man whose fortune is estimated at more than $500 million, $100,000 could be called a pittance, but to San Diego Padres owner Ray Kroc it was the last straw. For tampering with potential free agents now playing for other teams, the 76-year-old head of the McDonald's hamburger empire was fined $100,000 by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. It was the largest fine in sports history.
An enraged Kroc immediately announced that he was relinquishing control of the Padres to his son-in-law, Ballard Smith. "Baseball can go to hell," he said. "It has brought me nothing but aggravation."
The cause of Kuhn's aggravation, and ultimately Kroc's, was an interview Kroc gave in which he said that he planned to spend $10 million to improve the Padres and would pursue Joe Morgan of the Reds and Graig Nettles of the Yankees, both of whom are eligible to become free agents after this season. Kroc later apologized for his "slip of the tongue" and even promised to ignore Morgan and Nettles in the next free-agent draft. Clearly that was not good enough for Kuhn.
With the advent of free agentry in 1977, baseball stoutly decreed that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's player. The commissioner had been empowered by the owners to levy fines up to $5,000 for violations. Subsequently the limit was raised to $250,000. In the past Kuhn has zapped other clubs for tampering, but none was hit for more than $25,000.
Kuhn declined to comment on the Kroc fine, but whatever his reason, the penalty seems too harsh. To be sure, Kroc did indulge in tampering, but only in its mildest form. There are subtler, more devious ways of illegally negotiating with players. As Kroc said, "If you're going to tamper, you don't tip off the newspapers that you're going to do it."
Why was Peter Price, the manager of Le Ch‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¢teau Champlain hotel, crawling on the ground while pushing an eight-pound medicine ball with his head? He was trying to win the appropriately named L'homme de T‚Äö√†√∂‚Äö√ë¢te (head man) race of the second annual "Hotelympiades," staged in Montreal a few weeks ago. The games were played on the plaza of an office building complex, with a few hundred spectators looking on. And though he finished fourth, Price pronounced it "a great laugh and lots of fun."
Eleven teams representing the staffs of 13 Montreal hotels competed in six events, including the managers' medicine-ball push. Bedmaking, cake decorating and a combination three-legged race/scavenger hunt for room keys in a fountain were contested by chambermaids, chefs, reception clerks and sales personnel. The table-setting relay required that teams of waiters, waitresses and busboys deliver and pick up trays of drinks. Participants had to display both speed and neatness—no spilling, please.
The most athletic event was the bellhop's long jump, in which entrants carrying an empty piece of luggage under each arm leaped over a line of suitcases, in the manner of barrel jumping. Robert Hryciuk, of the Four Seasons Hotel, won by clearing 12 suitcases.
"That may or may not be a record," said Peter Dunn, sales manager of Le Chateau Champlain and president of the Hotelympiades organizing committee. "Actually, we don't keep records because the events are changed from year to year. But we try to keep them related to hotel duties." Asked to explain the relationship of the medicine ball race to the managers' normal work, Dunn demurred, but Price, who is Dunn's boss, suggested, "It was the only way they could think of to show us using our heads."
Dunn was last year's winner of the scavenger hunt, but did not compete this year. "I was too busy on the committee, so I just coached our team," he explained. Said Price, "Next year Dunn will participate. I guarantee it." Spoken like a true head man.
Fred Moore, the remarkable centenarian who was the subject of his grandson Kenny Moore's fond story in our special Year End issue last December (SI, Dec. 25), died on Aug. 24 in Portland, Ore. at the age of 102. Mr. Moore left a son and two daughters, nine grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and a patch of strawberries that he planted last spring.
Colgate-Palmolive's recent announcement that it was cutting back on its sponsorship of professional sports was hardly a surprise. Since January, when David Foster was replaced by Keith Crane as the company's chief operating officer, it had been rumored that Colgate would pull out when its various contracts expired. In a move that one LPGA spokesman described as "back to soap," Colgate has decided to discontinue its backing of men's tennis and golf and to reduce its sponsorship of LPGA events from four to one. The company will honor its contract with the Women's Tennis Association, which runs through 1981, but chances for renewal seem slim. In addition, there is talk that Colgate would like to sell two Foster-acquired subsidiaries, Ram golf equipment and Bancroft, which makes tennis rackets.
Under Foster's leadership, Colgate began its sports affiliations with the LPGA by inaugurating the Dinah Shore Winners Circle tournament in 1972. Foster quickly extended financial support to tennis, skiing and track and field. Soon the name Colgate was linked with stylishly run, big-money events in those sports.
In April, LPGA Commissioner Ray Volpe met with Colgate. Realizing that Crane wasn't as interested in women's golf as his predecessor, Volpe recommended that Colgate drop all but its showpiece, the Dinah Shore. Eight years ago, losing $400,000 in prize money would have been a devastating blow for the women's tour, but it is a measure of the lasting effect Colgate's backing has had for the LPGA that the three events Colgate dropped have already been replaced by new tournaments with equivalent purses.
The same, however, may not be true for men's tennis. For the last three years Colgate has sponsored the Grand Prix of Tennis, a worldwide series of rich tournaments that culminates in the Grand Prix Masters. Last winter Bjorn Borg was a top qualifier for the Masters, yet he refused to play, a decision that irritated both Colgate and Bancroft, which pays Borg to use its rackets.
Nonetheless, Arthur Ashe, a member of the Men's International Professional Tennis Council, is not particularly worried about finding a new sponsor. "We're out beating the bushes right now," he says. "We're talking about worldwide sponsorship, a very big commitment, but we will find a replacement.
"I think it's important for people, other potential sponsors, to understand that Colgate's move does not reflect a lack of confidence in pro tennis. Rather, it is just one company reconsidering its involvement with sports.
"It's unfortunate," Ashe added with mock regret. "It means I won't get any more free toothpaste."
Tom Lasorda, the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is a man to whom food is as serious a subject as baseball, and he recently ranked the National League's ball parks according to their clubhouse cuisine for the Los Angeles Times.
Four-star ratings went to San Francisco and New York. "San Francisco is as good as eating in a restaurant. There are steak sandwiches, chicken and all the stuff that comes with it," Lasorda said between bites. "New York has the best meals on the road. The clubhouse guy has his mom cook the food, and she's Italian. The mostaccioli is delicious."
Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Houston have three-star spreads; Atlanta and Cincinnati are two-star; and San Diego, Pittsburgh and Montreal fall at the bottom of Lasorda's list.
"The worst food in the league is in Montreal," he says. "I think they killed the chickens by starving them to death."
How does Lasorda rank the Dodger clubhouse meals of Chinese, Mexican and Italian food? "Gotta be four-star," boasts the well-fed manager, who keeps an emergency supply of egg rolls in his office refrigerator, along with cheese, fruit and a well-chosen wine.
On the whole, Lasorda finds National League food acceptable. "I haven't run into a really bad meal yet," he says. "I postpone a few, but I never miss any."
The following classified advertisement appeared on the front page of The New York Times one day last week:
"Richard loves Ellen very much and for the right reasons. They will marry, live happily ever after and he will beat her at tennis."
If Richard really wants to live happily ever after with Ellen, 50-50 might be a better arrangement than 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.
THEY SAID IT
•George Brett, Kansas City Royals third baseman, describing teammate Jamie Quirk, who is 6'4" and weighs 185 pounds: "He looks like a greyhound, but he runs like a bus."
•Rocky Bleier, balding Pittsburgh Steeler running back: "I'd like the body of Jim Brown, the moves of Gale Sayers, the strength of Earl Campbell and the acceleration of O. J. Simpson. And just once I would like to run and feel the wind in my hair."
•Rinus Michels, coach of the Los Angeles Aztecs, estimating how long it would take to come up with a U.S. citizen who's a great soccer player: "Five years. That's how long it takes for naturalization, isn't it?"