A LITTLE GREEN FOR THE BIG RED?
Under NCAA rules, college athletes can receive money for scholarships, room, board and incidentals, but are otherwise expected to play the game for its own reward. Now comes news that State Senator Ernest Chambers has introduced a bill in the Nebraska legislature to classify University of Nebraska football players as state employees and accord them a salary as well as pension and workmen's compensation benefits. "These are young men who are placed under a great deal of pressure, play a very dangerous game and bring in a great deal of money to the institution," Chambers says. "They are exploited."
Unsurprisingly, an NCAA spokesman is leery of the proposal, warning that it could put Nebraska players in violation of existing rules. But Chambers says, "My feeling is that the state has the prerogative to define the status of the people within its jurisdiction." Accordingly, his bill contains the stipulation that "nothing in this measure shall be construed to make [a paid Nebraska football player] a professional athlete."
Chambers, Nebraska's only black legislator, is something of a political gadfly. Although chances of immediate passage of his bill are remote, he has a reputation for perseverance. Outraged that the legislature's chaplain was receiving $319 a month for delivering invocations at daily sessions, he successfully sued in federal court on constitutional grounds to force the minister to, in effect, pray without pay. He's currently battling the use of radar by Nebraska highway patrolmen because of his belief that it isn't accurate, and he keeps alert to other potential issues by listening to customers while cutting hair in an Omaha barbershop, his job when the legislature isn't in session.
Chambers says he was galvanized into action on behalf of Nebraska football players after discussing the matter with star Running Back Jarvis Redwine and other Big Red players. Redwine evidently shares Chambers' views. Last fall he told The Kansas City Star's Steve Richardson, "Football is a job to me but I'm not getting paid for it. Besides my scholarship, which includes basic tuition and books, I'm getting only $158 [a month] to live off campus. Don't get me wrong. Every time I go on the football field I'm going to give it 100%. But when I have bills to be paid, and have to go to school, I get discouraged. I think all college athletes are exploited to an extent. I happen to be married and must live off campus. With standing-room crowds every game at Nebraska, I would think as a married player I'd be entitled to more money than I'm getting." Redwine had another complaint. Seems an Omaha company has sold 3,000 full-color posters of him for $3 each—without his or the school's permission and without his receiving a nickel in compensation.
TURNABOUT TIME, TURNOFF TIME
Introduced in mid-December, the Miller Lite television commercial starring former NHL Center Pete Stemkowski was an immediate hit. That's the one in which Stemkowski says he wants to tell his favorite Polish joke, then convulses a group of listeners—and surprises TV viewers—as he tells a joke in Polish: "Dlaczego Amerykaninowi zabrak‚Äö√¢√†‚àöào lodu? Poniewaz zagubi‚Äö√¢√†‚àöà przepis!" But now, popular though the commercial was, Miller officials and their ad agency, Backer & Spielvogel, have abruptly pulled it off the air.
The official explanation offered by a Miller spokesman is that the discontinued commercial had "run its planned cycle." But other sources say the decision was reached because of protests from offended viewers. It's not exactly clear what the protesters were upset about. Some of them may have been under the misapprehension that Stemkowski was telling a conventional Polish joke, which is to say, a slur on Poles. Those folks just don't know their Polish. In fact, before the commercial was aired, it was shown to two prominent Polish-Americans, neither of whom objected to its being run. Which is scarcely surprising, because this is what Stemkowski was saying:
"Why did the American run out of ice?"
"Because he lost the recipe."
In recent years the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America has grudgingly allowed a few women to attend its annual dinner, by tradition a stag affair. But while the association has let the likes of former New York Mets owner Lorinda de Roulet and one of the New York chapter's few women members, Jane Gross of The New York Times, grace its guest list, it has made clear it doesn't want hordes of wives, mothers and other womenfolk descending on the event en masse. By way of discouraging women from attending what remains, essentially, a boys' night out, Jack Lang, the chapter's executive secretary, stretched the truth a bit by saying in a letter announcing that the 58th annual dinner will be held Feb. 1 in the Sheraton Centre in Manhattan: "As always it is a black-tie, all-male affair."
O.K., a little fib is one thing. But Lang added, gratuitously, "We'd like to invite the ladies but there just isn't enough room." In fact, the dinner will be held in the Sheraton's Imperial Ballroom, just as it was last year when it drew something like 1,100 men and three women. Because the room can accommodate 2,000 diners, that leaves, by our reckoning, space for 897 guests and/or guestettes. One trusts that members of Lang's association are more accurate in reporting baseball news than he is in discussing the organization's annual bash.
ALL SAINTS' DAY
Sooner or later it's finally going to happen. Every college named after a saint will win in basketball on the same glorious day, lending a nice ecclesiastical look to the alphabetized agate-type results on the sports pages. On Saturday, Jan. 10, they came reasonably close. Although St. Joseph (Vt.), St. Scholastica, St. Olaf and St. Mary's (Calif.) lost to Worcester Tech, Hamline, Macalester and University of Pacific, respectively, look who came marching in:
St. Augustine's 71, Hampton Inst. 66
St. Bonaventure 98, St. Michael's 80
St. Cloud State 97, Minn.-Duluth 84
St. Edward's 65, Huston-Tillotson 63
St. Francis Ill. 79, Roosevelt 56
St. Francis Pa. 69, St. Francis NY 67
St. John's Minn. 80, St. Mary's 57
St. John's NY 83, Providence 63
St. Joseph's Ind. 68, Ind. Central 64
St. Joseph's Pa. 44, Jacksonville 42
St. Lawrence 73, RIT 62
St. Paul's 100, Md. E-Shore 98 (o.t.)
St. Peter's 75, Array 45
St. Thomas 72. Concordia-Moor. 68
By the time the faithful reader reached Samford's 67-66 win over Georgia Southern, he may or may not have noticed that the St. Louis Billikens had the day off.
WITH A NO-CUT, NO LESS
The full name of the first school mentioned in the preceding item is College of Saint Joseph the Provider. Or, as students on the Rutland, Vt. campus irreverently put it, "Joe the Pro."
Officially, if not logically, the Grand Prix Masters tennis tournament in Madison Square Garden in mid-January (SI, Jan. 26) was considered to be the final event of the 1980 men's season. When the last dime of prize money was distributed, John McEnroe, who plays more singles matches than archrival Bjorn Borg and also is one of the few top performers who regularly compete in doubles, wound up atop the total-earnings list for the year, exceeding the million-dollar mark in the process. Counting tour winnings, plus income from such things as Davis Cup play, the bonus pool and four-man exhibitions (though not from endorsements, two-man exhibitions or promotional appearances), McEnroe won $1,026,383. The rest of the top 10 in '80: Borg ($723,212), Jimmy Connors ($604,641), Ivan Lendl ($568,911), Gene Mayer ($384,719), Guillermo Vilas ($378,601), Vitas Gerulaitis ($344,666), Wojtek Fibak ($319,-887), Brian Gottfried ($294,579) and Josè-Luis Clerc ($277,234).
The leading women money-winners for 1980 didn't fare quite as well. Tracy Austin, who paced the women, lagged far behind McEnroe with $683,787, while runner-up Martina Navratilova trailed Borg with $674,400, third-place Chris Evert Lloyd trailed Connors with $427,705 and fourth-place Hana Mandlikova trailed Lendl with $376,430—and so it went right down to the 10th-place woman, Pam Shriver, whose $182,649 was considerably less than the amount won by the 10th man, Clerc. Somehow things seem slightly less inequitable when one, lists the top 10 money-winners, men and women combined. Austin, Navratilova, Evert Lloyd and Mandlikova placed third, fourth, seventh and 10th, respectively. In other words, such outstanding male stars as Connors and Lendl were outearned by two women. That's the way the ball bounces, fellows.
PICKS BY THEIR PEERS
The NBA All-Star game will be played Feb. 1 in Richfield, Ohio with starting lineups chosen by the fans. Trouble is, the clubs had to submit nominations for the ballot last summer, which is why Phoenix' Walter Davis, who has toiled at guard this season, was listed—and elected to start for the West—at his old forward spot. And why the ballot also listed the oft-injured Bill Walton, who appeared in all of 14 games last season and none this season. Somebody in San Diego must have been dreaming. Also, the NBA's tub-thumpers began distributing the ballots during the season's second week, a heck of a time to start thinking about all-star selections. As a result, Seattle's Paul Westphal was chosen to start even though he has missed 25 games.
The selection process was further undermined by some obvious ballot-box stuffing, particularly in Atlanta, whose Hawks currently have a 19-32 record. It was bad enough that Hawk Forward Dan Roundfield and Guard Eddie Johnson were chosen to start for the East. On top of that, Tree Rollins finished a strong second at center to Chicago's Artis Gilmore despite missing 20 games, while Forward John Drew outpolled Milwaukee's Marques Johnson and Chicago's David Greenwood for third place among forwards. Unaccountably, Boston's Larry Bird finished a distant sixth among East forwards. Here are the complete starting lineups chosen by the fans:
Julius Erving, Philadelphia
Marques Johnson, Milwaukee
Bill Cartwright, N.Y.
Michael Ray Richardson, N. Y.
Ray Williams, N.Y.
Truck Robinson, Phoenix
Jamaal Wilkes, LA.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LA.
George Gervin, San Antonio
Dennis Johnson, Phoenix
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Walton, San Diego Clipper center (see above), who is about to undergo another foot operation: "I learned a long time ago that minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else, not you."
•Ed (Moose) Krause, 68, Notre Dame's longtime athletic director, about the largely honorary title conferred on him upon his retirement: "I just found out what 'emeritus' means. It means working without pay."