AGGRESSIVE, BALANCED & LEARNING
This is an article from the Jan. 5, 1981 issue
As a longtime advocate of stringent measures to protect the environment, SI is concerned about Ronald Reagan's selection of Wyoming-born lawyer James G. Watt, 42, to be Secretary of the Interior. As a lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the 1960s, Watt vigorously opposed both tighter federal controls over industrial water pollution and stepped-up government efforts to reclaim strip-mined land. In his current position as president of the ultraconservative, Denver-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, he has consistently battled environmentalists and the Interior Department on the side of developers. In a Christmas Eve press conference following his nomination, he pledged to move "in an aggressive manner" to lease more public lands for oil, gas and coal exploration. He also assailed environmental "extremists," whom he described as "those who would deny economic development, those who would deny balanced management of our resources for the benefit of consumers and all Americans."
There is reason to question Watt's notion of "balanced" management. In an interview last week with SI Senior Writer Robert H. Boyle, Watt was asked whether the accelerated development he had in mind might not exacerbate the problem of acid rain, which has damaged fish and crops in the eastern U.S. and Canada. "I've got a lot of learning to do," Watt replied. Taken at face value, the answer was more distressing than disarming. Watt seemed to be confessing, in effect, that he has been extolling policies whose costs—both in terms of human health and economic damage—he hadn't yet fully assessed.
More encouraging, Watt told Boyle he would uphold "absolutely" the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which empowers the Interior Department to, among other things, designate and protect wilderness areas. He also said he would name professionals rather than political appointees to head the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. And he suggested that he was being wrongly cast as an anti-environmentalist. In addition to his jobs with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Mountain States Legal Foundation, Watt logged seven years as an Interior Department aide during the Nixon and Ford Administrations, an experience he invoked when he said, "The so-called environmentalists should read my record. No candidate could have a better public record, I'm challenging you to look at it."
Interior Department sources confirm that Watt's stands on environmental matters during his years in government service weren't quite as disturbing as his pronouncements in private life might suggest. Referring to Watt's performance as head of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation from 1972 to 1975, one official says, "His record wasn't bad at all. He fought for the bureau's programs, got its funding increased considerably and was an effective and articulate spokesman for outdoor recreation. He didn't have the reputation environmentalists are now painting." Watt's record at Interior was also cited by Norman B. (Ike) Livermore, the head of Reagan's Environmental Protection Agency transition team and a former director of the National Audubon Society. Livermore said that environmentalists might well be "pleasantly surprised" with both Reagan and Watt.
Such a surprise would be welcome indeed.
BREAKING THE RABBIT HABIT
In a sharp departure from greyhound-racing custom, the dogs at the Hollywood Greyhound Track in Hallandale, Fla. are no longer chasing a mechanical rabbit. They're chasing a mechanical greyhound. The change was implemented at the start of the track's new season last week, and the dogs pursued their fiber-glass likeness with every bit as much gusto as they had ever wasted on the hare. Animal lovers have criticized the use of rabbits, even mechanical ones, as lures at dog tracks, and Hollywood's general manager, Perrine Palmer, said, "We wanted everyone to realize that greyhounds will chase anything that runs—not just rabbits." To further make that point, perhaps the track will wish to come up with different lures in subsequent seasons. Before settling on a mechanical greyhound, track officials, kiddingly or otherwise, kicked around other ideas for possible substitutes for the rabbit, including a beer keg, a white flag and replicas of a race car and an airplane. All presumably would work nicely.
Fan rowdyism is increasingly a problem these days, and Boston University's John T.F, Cheffers, an associate professor of education who has made a study of various forms of sports violence, has some ideas about what might be done to curb it. Cheffers believes some of the more virulent tendencies of fans might be minimized if controversial rulings by game officials were explained more quickly and fully, if scoreboard messages were used to divert attention from disputes and if, in the case of high school games, security were maintained, insofar as possible, by teachers and coaches instead of policemen. Cheffers also says that fans would be less rowdy if stadiums and arenas were made more "homelike," which he suggests might be achieved by adorning the stands with plants and flowers.
Landon Y. Jones, a senior editor at PEOPLE, has written a book, Great Expectations, dealing with the profound and continuing impact that the post-World War II baby boom has exerted on American society. Jones finds that because of their sheer numbers, the 76.4 million "baby boomers"—those Americans born between 1946 and 1964—have significantly influenced music, fashion and politics, and have been forced to compete in inevitably overcrowded college and job markets. One other possible legacy of the baby boom: the soaring popularity of baseball in recent years.
Jones notes that because they came of age during a period when the U.S. was undergoing wrenching social change, the baby boomers were overcome by a collective nostalgia, which many of them fueled by slavishly following baseball even while rejecting such other staples of American life as the family, the flag and free enterprise. Jones attributes this to the "special character" of baseball during the '50s and early '60s when many of the baby boomers were first exposed to the game. "In those days, before the time of expansion and free agents, all the events of baseball unfolded in a single summer's night in only eight ball parks," he says. "At the beginning of the 1950s, there were 16 major league teams; at the end of the 1950s, there still were 16 major league teams. Unlike the more volatile and technocratic professional football, baseball in the '50s offered a reassuring tintype of an unchanging world of smalltown values."
As evidence of baseball's powerful hold on the baby boomers, Jones points to Simon and Garfunkel's plaintive query, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?"; to James Simon Kunen, the Columbia University antiwar demonstrator, who exulted in his 1969 book, The Strawberry Statement, that at ball games he was able to "talk to anybody at all and share something and be together and understand"; and to Ted Gold, one of three young radicals killed in a Manhattan "bomb factory," who said he could never become a true revolutionary until Willie Mays retired. There's every reason to believe that the baby boomers, who are now mostly in their late 20s and early 30s, have contributed mightily to the attendance records baseball seems to set almost every season.
THE SCHOLL POLL
To judge by the reaction of executives of Scholl Inc., the Chicago-based foot-care-products company, Roberto Duran hurt his image even more than previously imagined when he abruptly quit against Sugar Ray Leonard. Scholl officials had cause to consider Duran's tarnished reputation after the company's Pro Comfort Division got the idea of asking sportswriters to rank the 10 top sports achievements of 1980, which were to be designated as the "Great Feats" awards. Scholl's Great Feats, get it?
Anyway, the people tabulating the results of the Scholl poll found that the easy winner was the U.S. Olympic hockey team's triumph at Lake Placid, followed by Bjorn Borg's Wimbledon victory and Jack Nicklaus' U.S. Open comeback. Duran's victory last June in his first fight with Leonard received also-ran votes from four of the 10 participating sportswriters and consequently wound up in 10th place. All this, however, was before the Panamanian's shameful defeat in the rematch last November in New Orleans. There's a mild dispute over Scholl's reaction to the New Orleans fiasco. According to Hal Higdon and David Israel, two of the writers who cast votes for Duran, a public relations man representing Scholl called and urged them to rescind those votes. But a Scholl spokesman, while allowing that calls were indeed made to Higdon, Israel and two others who'd voted for Duran, insists that they were merely asked whether they wanted to switch. The spokesman added that none did and that Duran remained in the top 10. This may seem to be a lot of fuss over a 10th-place finisher, but Scholl's top marketing people, it was conceded, were worried about "public reaction" to any possible identification with the disgraced Duran.
You'd think Duran had quit against Sugar Ray because of bunions, not a bellyache.
A TIME FOR WISDOM
Last September Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended Texas Ranger Pitcher Ferguson Jenkins for declining to answer questions posed by the commissioner's staff concerning Jenkins' arrest on drug charges a month earlier in Toronto. The suspension was promptly overturned by Baseball Arbitrator Raymond Goetz, who held that Kuhn's effort to compel Jenkins to discuss the case before it came to trial "offends the moral values of our society on which the legal privilege against self-incrimination is based." Two weeks ago Jenkins finally had his day in court. Ontario Provincial Judge Gerard Young found him guilty of possession of cocaine, and then, in a Solomonic judgment, granted the Canadian-born Jenkins an absolute discharge, telling him, "You seem to be a person who has conducted himself in exemplary fashion in the community and in the country, building up an account. This is the time to draw on that account."
Now it is Kuhn's turn to display similar wisdom. Reacting to Jenkins' conviction, Kuhn said it meant his office's investigation "obviously is going to have to continue," thus leaving open the possibility that he might discipline Jenkins for "the good of the game," the catch-phrase pro commissioners ritually invoke when punishing athletes. Unfortunately, the commissioners often go far afield in imposing such discipline, dealing with off-the-field activities that have little directly to do with the game and, further, are amply covered by the laws of society. Unless Kuhn finds that Jenkins' possession of cocaine affected the outcome of games or endangered other players, imposition of such punishment in Jenkins' case would be especially regrettable. In his 16 years in the majors, during which he has won 259 games and avoided previous trouble, the 37-year-old Jenkins has done enough for "the good of the game" to more than offset any damage that might have been caused by his recent brush with the law.
The Oilers had just beaten the Packers 22-3 on Dec. 14 when a fan in Green Bay's Lambeau Field threw a bottle of beer at Houston's Earl Campbell, who was, thankfully, unhurt. Later, in the Packer locker room, a security guard said of the incident, "That was really bush." Deadpanned Green Bay Linebacker Ed O'Neil, "How do you know? Couldn't it have been Schlitz?"
THEY SAID IT
•Mike Eruzione, captain of the U.S. Olympic hockey team, accepting an award at a Multiple Sclerosis Society dinner in Manhattan: "Here I am in a tuxedo in the Waldorf, and there are two Russian goaltenders trying to get out of Siberia."
•Butch van Breda Kolff, former NBA coach, explaining why he prefers his present job with the New Orleans Pride of the Women's Basketball League: "The time-outs smell a lot better."