The foul weather that prevailed during the World Series diminished the quality of play and alternately soaked and froze the fans. Some critics accordingly suggested it was time to turn back the clock and shorten the season, but in an era of expansion and playoffs that is unlikely to happen. Others proposed holding future World Series in neutral, warm-weather locations Super Bowl-style, but that would take the event away from hometown fans. One sensible option remains. Despite the TV networks' understandable preference for beaming the Series in prime time, all games should be scheduled for daylight hours, as was the practice until 1971. If last week's first three games had been played in the afternoon instead of at night, we might have witnessed baseball, not weatherball.
BACK TO BEN
A four-week walkout by 1,000 New York City high school coaches ended last week when Mayor Edward Koch found a way to meet their demands for more money. The coaches, whose work stoppage had halted practice and competition in soccer, fencing, cross-country and volleyball, among other sports (football coaches were not on strike), wanted restoration of 25% pay cuts they had voluntarily accepted to ease the Big Apple's financial crisis in 1975. Four years later, the city still doesn't have the money, and Koch broke the impasse by promising to raise the $386,000 needed for restoring the cuts through private, tax-deductible donations.
The benefactors so far lined up for the Board of Education Emergency Athletic Fund include real-estate moguls, foreign diplomats, the New York Cosmos and Reggie Jackson, all of whom agree that sports are a valuable part of high school education. Although it is certainly good to have the coaches back on the job, the recasting of high school athletics as a charity recalls the days of Benjamin Franklin, who organized philanthropic projects in Philadelphia to finance police and fire departments and to pave and light city streets. None of these services were yet provided by government, and Franklin was trying to shame municipalities into taking them over, which they eventually did. Seen in this historical light, it is difficult to view the resolution of New York City's coaching dispute as progress.
October 21, 1979
Big Bay De Noc High School in Michigan's northern peninsula was beaten 56-0 in football Saturday by Rapid River, its 24th straight loss. Worse, it was the 15th consecutive shutout suffered by the Black Bears, who were outscored in those games by a total of 830 points. A couple of weeks ago, Tailback Ron Collins broke into the clear for a 60-yard gain but was tackled at the 10-yard line of rival De Tour, and Big Bay De Noc couldn't get into the end zone. It lost 51-0.
The beleaguered gridders at Big Bay De Noc might find comfort in hearing about Healy (Kans.) High, which lost to Dorrance the other night 107-0 and had five of six punts blocked in the process, the one exception being a third-down punt that Coach Larry Ayers ordered "just to see if we could get one away." As for Ayers, he might find comfort in hearing about Coach Emelio Tesei, who played a tape of a General Patton speech before sending his Live Oak (La.) High team onto the field recently against unbeaten St. Helena. Fired up by the recording, three Live Oak players charged through a glass door and suffered cuts. Live Oak then lost 36-14.
While some people only complain about the energy shortage, a growing number of others are doing something about it—commuting to work by bicycle. In Washington, as many as 70,000 now ride bikes to their jobs each day, and 25,000 regularly do so in Denver. An estimated 13,000 New Yorkers commute by bicycle, including a number of businessmen in three-piece suits. One of these, Gordon J. Phillips, who pedals 60 blocks to his midtown Manhattan office, says, "Bicycling to work is my elixir for the day. When it rains and I have to take the subway, I feel cheated."
As they increase in number, bicycle commuters have succeeded in winning such amenities as bike lanes on city streets, off-street bicycle paths and strategically placed racks for parking. In Los Angeles, where the bicycle is seen increasingly as an alternative to the exhaust-spewing, fuel-consuming automobile, Mayor Tom Bradley has encouraged the cycling movement by proclaiming a "Bike to Work Week," and rush-hour motorists inching along the Santa Monica Freeway are enticed by signs reading MILE FOR MILE, BIKERS PAY LESS and PEDAL POWER—BIKE TO WORK. A six-mile stretch of busy Venice Boulevard is getting a bicycle lane, and directional signs for cyclists are also planned. An innovation that may be copied elsewhere in Southern California is the installation of bicycle storage lockers at a bus station in El Monte so that commuters can make part of the trip to work by bus and pedal the rest of the way.
Some cyclists believe much more can be done, like the 500 who have paid $10 in dues to join Bicycle Commuters of New York. That group calls for the total banning of automobiles from at least one major Manhattan avenue as well as from Central Park, where cars are now prohibited only on Sundays and during certain other non-rush-hour periods. It also agitates for cyclists' rights in a newsletter (one recent headline: BUS DRIVERS CAN BE REAL BASTARDS, CAN'T THEY?) and by staging demonstrations. To publicize the view that cars should be outlawed in Central Park, its members have taken to doing something that, in the short run, anyway, won't ease the energy shortage at all. They've been holding weekly "ride-ins" in the park, tying up automobile traffic for blocks.
Baskin-Robbins has contracted to supply ice cream to U.S. Olympic team members at their various training camps, and it wants its involvement known. Since closing the deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee, the California-based firm has introduced such "flavors of the month" as Decatholemon and Gold Medal Ribbon (a mixture of chocolate and vanilla laced with caramel) and, this month's flavor, Jogger's Jamoca. Yet to come are confections called Skating Pears, Downhill Rum and Marathon Mint. The adventurous might want to tackle a sundae consisting of five scoops of ice cream, three toppings, two chocolate cookies and cream. Just ask for the Mt. Olympus.
Readers of The Des Moines Tribune might be wondering how the paper got out the extra edition it published when Pope John Paul II visited Iowa. After all, no vehicles were allowed anywhere near the area where the Pope and 350,000 spectators congregated, yet the special edition, with photos, began rolling off the press barely an hour after the papal appearance had ended. The Tribune's secret: 10 members of the suburban Ankeny High School cross-country team took turns running film, 241 rolls in all, from photographers at the site to a waiting helicopter two miles distant.
THE $16 MILLION QUESTION
Last October, Congress authorized $16 million for a reorganized U.S. Olympic effort that everybody hoped would eliminate the strife that had long afflicted amateur athletics in this country. Since then, something strange has happened. The $16 million was omitted from the Carter Administration's budget, and a subsequent attempt in a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to amend the budget to include that sum got nowhere. Subcommittee members said that they thought the subject of federal financing of Olympic programs merited closer scrutiny than it had received.
One reason they may have felt that way is that, far from disappearing, bickering has flared anew between the United States Olympic Committee, which was to administer the $16 million, and the NCAA, which is using its considerable clout in Washington to lobby against appropriation of the money. After six years of boycotting the USOC, the NCAA last year rejoined that organization and withdrew its opposition to federal Olympic financing. But now it has reversed itself in a dispute with the USOC over the question of which of two rival federations should be the ruling body in U.S. amateur wrestling.
The U.S. Wrestling Federation, which the NCAA supports, was recognized in binding arbitration last year as the national governing body for the sport in place of the Amateur Athletic Union. But FILA, the international wrestling federation, continues to recognize the AAU, and the USOC so far has refused to sanction the U.S. Wrestling Federation. The dispute has been taken to court but remains unresolved.
The NCAA is understandably upset. The U.S. Wrestling Federation won in arbitration by demonstrating it could do a better job of running the sport than the AAU had done. The USOC can certainly use the $16 million and it hopes the Administration will see fit to allocate the funds in its supplemental budget in January. But the USOC should, in turn, be accountable for its actions. Its refusal to recognize the U.S. Wrestling Federation is undermining an arbitration process that had been set up to assure just such accountability.
SWIFT & BRAVE
Credit one of South Africa's most prominent white athletes with having courageously stood up to apartheid. Johnny Halberstadt, the country's cross-country champion, was outraged when the South African government refused to allow a standout black runner, Matthews Motshwarateu, to travel abroad to accept a track scholarship in the U.S. In protest, Halberstadt refused to accept his Springbok blazer, the most coveted honor that is bestowed on South African amateur athletes. "My conscience would not be easy if I accepted it," he said.
Halberstadt was criticized for his "insulting" action by amateur sports officials and was roundly booed by pro-apartheid spectators at meets. But he was lauded by a number of liberal South African newspapers, one of which, the Rand Daily Mail, said, "The worst thing about apartheid in sport is that it is unsportsmanlike." The furor proved embarrassing to the government, which had been trying to convey the impression that it was dismantling apartheid on the playing field, if not in society generally. The government finally issued Motshwarateu travel documents, and the 20-year-old runner, who has the 12th-fastest time in the world this year in the 10,000 meters, has arrived in the U.S., where he is trying to decide which school to attend. His air fare to this country was paid by Halberstadt and another white South African distance star, Bernard Rose.
SONS OF FERG
Quick now, what are the first names of 1) the NFL's leading passer, 2) the Notre Dame halfback who is on the verge of breaking the Irish career rushing record, 3) the Winnipeg Jet general manager currently trying to coax Bobby Hull out of retirement, 4) the Los Angeles Dodger catcher who hit 20 home runs this season and 5) the Pittsburgh Penguin center who scored two goals last week in his team's NHL opener? Answers: Joe, Vagas, John, Joe (again) and George. If you had more than two incorrect responses, it's obviously time to brush up on your Ferguson, a big name in sports these days.
THEY SAID IT
•Pat Paolella, catcher on the American University baseball team, describing his ambition in life: "My idea of paradise is to be the bullpen coach for the Toledo Mud Hens, live in a trailer and go fishing with a big chaw of tobacco and ripple-sole shoes."
•Terry Kelleher, Everett (Wash.) Herald TV columnist, on John McEnroe's claim that John Lloyd is more popular than he is because Lloyd is married to Chris Evert: "McEnroe wouldn't be popular if he were married to Marie Osmond."
•Mike Flanagan, Baltimore Orioles' pitcher: "I could never play in New York. The first time I ever came into a game there, I got in the bullpen car and they told me to lock the doors."