This is an article from the Feb. 15, 1982 issue
A strong argument can be offered that a substantial term of incarceration imposed on this defendant will be recalled in the future by another college athlete who may be tempted to compromise his performance.
—U.S. District Judge Henry Bramwell, in sentencing former Boston College basketball player Rick Kuhn to 10 years in prison for his part in a point-shaving scheme during the 1978-79 season.
They wanted to make an example, and I was the example.
—Los Angeles Kings Coach Don Perry, after receiving a six-game suspension from NHL President John Ziegler for ordering an L.A. player, Paul Mulvey, to leave the bench to fight during a game.
As studies in deterrence, the actions taken last week in a Brooklyn courtroom and the offices of the National Hockey League offered a sharp contrast. The 10-year jail term that Bramwell imposed on Kuhn was unexpectedly harsh, evoking sympathy for Kuhn from, among others, St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca, who said, "A murderer will get that kind of sentence." But Carnesecca also predicted that the punishment meted out to Kuhn (who will be eligible for parole in 3½ years) will have the intended effect of discouraging other college athletes from following in his footsteps. Kuhn was convicted on Nov. 23 of charges that he shaved points at the behest of gamblers and sought to induce his teammates to do the same. "I'm sure this will make a big impression on today's basketball players," Carnesecca said.
In Perry's case, it was harder to assess the likely efficacy of the penalty because it was impossible to tell exactly what "example" Ziegler was trying to set. In ordering Mulvey to fight. Perry was merely doing what comes naturally in the NHL. which tacitly approves fighting in the interest of selling tickets. To be sure, Ziegler and other NHL officials insist that fighting is condoned only as an essential outlet for "frustration," implying that such fighting occurs spontaneously, but that's sheer nonsense. Even a boxer taking a beating in the ring, one of the most frustrating experiences in sport, must restrain the impulse to vent his frustration by circumventing the rules—by, say, kicking his foe or wrestling him to the ground. It took a rare act of rebellion—a refusal by Mulvey to obey Perry's command to "goon it up," as Mulvey put it—to expose the NHL's hypocrisy on the subject of fighting, and it was out of embarrassment over this exposure that Ziegler suspended Perry. That punishment was a public relations gesture just as contrived as the premeditated brawling that reduces a rough, but also a swift and elegant, game to the level of Roller Derby.
The sentencing of Kuhn and the suspension of Perry both deal with dishonesty in sport. There the similarity ends. Bramwell's action was calculated to end the dishonesty in question; Ziegler's perpetuated it.
MAY THE OFF-SEASON RUN FOREVER
Chicago sports fans have been abuzz in recent weeks over goings-on involving the Bears. Cubs and White Sox, who have, respectively, hired a new coach and manager (Mike Ditka and Dallas Green) and acquired several key new players. The three teams have generated so much seemingly positive news that Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Daley felt compelled the other day to put their activities in proper perspective. He wrote. "Face it: Chicago doesn't have an off-season. No one loses interest in football, baseball or basketball until the teams start playing games."
A LONG WAY FROM LONG BEACH
At work in the office of his Cape Cod-style house. Tom Jennings looks contentedly out on his four acres of wooded New Hampshire countryside, a vision of lush green pine and skeletal white birch aslumber under a blanket of snow. It's a stereotypical midwinter New England scene, which is rather odd because the office happens to be headquarters of the Pacific Coast Club of Long Beach. That's right, Pacific. And, yup, Long Beach, as in (supposedly) California. One of the nation's leading track and field clubs, boasting as members world indoor record holders Billy Olson (pole vault). Debbie Brill (high jump) and 14 other world-class performers, the Pacific Coast Club of Long Beach has been a glorious misnomer ever since Jennings. 40, its coach and executive director, moved to West Lebanon, N.H. three years ago after seeing some travel brochures and concluding, "There must be something more beautiful than the freeways of L.A."
Jennings is a Berkeley native and erstwhile half-miler who captained the Long Beach State track team in 1963. He founded the Pacific Coast Club in partnership with the city of Long Beach four years later. For a time the club occupied a splendid, castle-like oceanside building. "It was similar to the New York Athletic Club," says Jennings, "but in 1971, when there weren't enough members, it was boarded up." The club's headquarters have since been situated wherever Jennings, a former insurance salesman who now runs a mail-order stamp business, has made his home.
That Jennings has moved the club to New Hampshire isn't as incongruous as it seems, because his main role is to handle the team's finances, travel arrangements and public relations, tasks that can be carried on almost anywhere. Besides, the athletes themselves are scattered all over, getting together mostly at meets; Olson lives in Texas, Brill in British Columbia, others in Arkansas, Oregon and other far-flung locales. "They work out best in whatever environment is most comfortable for them." Jennings says. "I'm not involved in the day-to-day coaching. At that level, the athlete is pretty much self-coached, anyway."
When Jennings isn't on the road with his club team, he coaches the high school track team in Hanover, N.H., meanwhile going through his paces as a self-proclaimed "hot-shot Masters runner," and drinking in the New England scenery. He says of his picture-book surroundings, "Everyone else seems to be moving in the other direction—east to west. People said I was nuts. They still say I'm nuts...at least until they see the place."
Super Bowl XVI is over, but last week the memory lingered on.
•A Texas newspaper, the Port Arthur News, pointed out for the benefit of omen seekers that, for four straight years now. Bum Phillips has ended his season with losses to the ultimate Super Bowl winner—the Steelers in 1978 and 1979 (winners over Phillips' Oilers in the AFC championship game both seasons), the Raiders in 1980 (winners over the Oilers in the AFC wild-card playoff game) and the 49ers in 1981 (winners over Phillips' New Orleans Saints in the regular-season finale).
•Jim Doan, sports information director at the University of California-Davis, took note of a particular sequence of five plays in the Super Bowl, all of which involved 49er Placekicker Ray Wersching. and wondered whether another kicker at any level of football had ever put in such a busy 15 seconds of elapsed playing time. First, with 15 seconds to go in the first half. Wersching kicked a 22-yard field goal, giving San Francisco a 17-0 lead. Then Wersching's squib kickoff was fumbled by the Bengals and recovered by the 49ers. After an illegal procedure penalty assessed against the 49ers. Wersching kicked a 26-yard field goal, making it 20-0 with two seconds to go. Wersching's squib kickoff then was downed by Cincinnati as the half ended. Finally. Wersching kicked off to start the second half.
•NFC partisans were, suddenly, only too glad to revive the old argument about which conference was stronger. The AFC had been on top for some years, but this season the NFC won the Super Bowl (for only the second time in a decade), won a majority (28 of 52) of the inter-conference games during the regular season (for the first time since 1971), and won two more places than the AFC on the football writers' All-Pro team (for its best representation since 1973). AFC players on the All-Pro team included such perennials as the Steelers' Mike Webster, Jack Lambert and Mel Blount, which may signal further change in the near future, because the resurgent NFC dominated the all-rookie team, with 18 of the 24 players named. Further, where the AFC used to have a big edge in quarterbacks, with Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw. Ken Stabler, et at., some of the best quarterbacks are now in the NFC: Joe Montana, Danny White, Steve Bartkowski, Tommy Kramer. The AFC did beat the NFC in the Pro Bowl, but that's all right. The NFCers had won it the previous four years and used to complain that they could win it but not the Super Bowl. Now the cleat seems to be on the other foot.
NOT AN EMPTY HONOR
Of course, the AFC can always try to claim that all-rookie teams aren't necessarily that valid. For instance, this season's all-rookie center is Atlanta's John Scully, out of Notre Dame, who appeared in just three games at that position and made the team more or less by default because no other rookies played center very much, either. Scully will probably take a ribbing for that, but it shouldn't bother him too much; he had a clause in his contract guaranteeing him a bonus if he made the all-rookie squad—and there was nothing in there about how.
A SURFEIT OF FORFEITS
As frequently happens in high school wrestling, the team at White Swan (Wash.) High has trouble fielding entrants in all 13 weight classes. The same problem bedevils the team at rival Highland High. Thus, when the two schools got together the other day for a meet, nobody was particularly surprised that White Swan had only six wrestlers on hand, Highland just five. What was surprising was this: None of the White Swan boys was in the same weight class as any of the Highland boys, which meant that no matches could take place.
Because of the odds-defying circumstance, the meet was short and sweet. First, White Swan's Donald Weeks stepped forward and had his hand held up by the referee, who declared him the winner by forfeit in the 101-pound class. Next, Highland's Todd Krienke came out and was designated the winner by forfeit at 108 pounds. And so it went, right up to Highland's Kent Wilkinson, who was pronounced victorious—a forfeit, of course—in the unlimited-weight class. With six points awarded for victory in each match, White Swan, by virtue of its extra man, won the meet 36-30. "It was just coincidence that none of our wrestlers matched up," Highland Coach Craig O'Brine said. Of the reaction of the 30-odd spectators to the freakish meet, O'Brine said, "They almost tore the place apart, it was so exciting."
It would be hard to find another high school athletic program to match that of Bishop Hendricken High of Warwick, R.I. In 1981, competing in Rhode Island's major school division. Bishop Hendricken, a parochial boys' school with an enrollment of about 1,100, won state championships in seven sports: football, basketball, baseball, soccer, swimming, wrestling and cross-country. The Hawks also finished second in hockey, tennis and indoor and outdoor track. The cross-country and swimming teams were New England champions as well.
The only sport in which Bishop Hendricken did not reach the state finals was golf. The boys are working on that. Fore!
Not realizing that the game had been canceled months earlier. Las Vegas odds-makers made Davidson's basketball team a 5½-point favorite over The Citadel on Jan. 27. To his annoyance, Davidson's sports information director, Emil Parker, got a firsthand reminder the next day of the extent of gambling involvement in college sports. By Parker's count, more than 50 "fans," frustrated by the absence of a score in their newspaper, called him to ask how the game had come out. Parker allows that he might have succumbed to the temptation to give the callers a phony score except that he was "afraid of waking up and finding a mile-long black limo parked in my driveway."
The make-believe score Parker had in mind would have had his school failing to cover the spread under circumstances calculated to cause apoplexy among at least some of the callers: Davidson 149, Citadel 144 in triple overtime.
TIME-OUT FOR THE BOOKS
Lest it be concluded from recent academic transcript scandals and intimations of classroom cheating by athletes that it's impossible these days to be both a college student and a jock, please meet David Stotts, a reserve guard on the Indiana University Southeast basketball team who, after having been sidelined with a knee injury, was playing himself back into shape with the school's junior varsity team in a game against the Hanover College jayvees. Stotts played the first half but then excused himself at halftime to attend a computer-programming class. When the class ended, he returned to the gym to find out how the game had turned out only to discover that it was in the third overtime, that three of his teammates had fouled out, that each of the four remaining players had four fouls and that Stotts's team was clinging to an 83-81 lead.
Stotts rushed to the dressing room, put on his uniform and returned to the game. We're pleased to report that, his class out of the way and his conscience clear, Stotts hit a free throw in the waning seconds to help seal an 86-83 win.
THEY SAID IT
•Ken Anderson, Cincinnati Bengal quarterback, recalling the problems with interceptions that plagued him early in the 1981 season: "I'd go to the huddle in practice, and the offensive linemen would say, 'Let us know which direction you're throwing this time so we'll know who we have to tackle."
•Dana Kirk, Memphis State basketball coach, assigning his defensive specialist, Bobby Parks, to guard Louisville's star in a game in Memphis: "Derek Smith is going to be chewing gum, and I want you to be able to tell me what flavor it is."
•Bobby Parks, excitedly addressing Kirk after holding Smith to 11 points in a 74-65 overtime Memphis State victory: "Coach, it was Dentyne."