AN ATTACK ON THE CITADEL
Not that they are likely to change the face of sport in America—or even in their own school district—but a group of parents in Maryland has mounted a stinging attack on the way scholastic sport is handled. A school board in Howard County had proposed a revised athletic program that could, according to its critics, adversely affect things like intramurals and girls' sports while increasing even further interscholastic competition in the major sports. The parents came before the board in protest.
"Interscholastic athletics are for the few, not the many," charged Peter Weymouth, one of the objecting parents, "but it is possible to envision a sports program large and varied enough to involve all students." He argued that activities like gymnastics, tennis, golf, volleyball, swimming, table tennis and other such are "free from the risk of serious injury and can be enjoyed for many years after leaving school."
A variety of minor sports, conducted on an intramural level, would "be capable of generating excitement, developing school spirit and contributing to the health and well-being of the students involved," whereas overemphasis on varsity sports, he said, leads to such aberrations as school involvement in noneducational areas—problems relating to tickets, parking, concessions, advertising for programs and the like. Weymouth particularly attacked football, asserting, "It is the only sport where serious injuries are anticipated—without disappointment. It is hard to reconcile the board's support of football with all its risks and very limited educational value."
February 26, 1973
Another parent, Mrs. Angela Beltram, said, "There certainly is too much emphasis on winning. Is working a boy to death physical education?" Weymouth agreed, saying, "A need to win has taken much of the fun out of high school sport." He said student athletes spend too much time under pressure, attending long practices after school, playing in weekend games, reporting for practice in summer well before the school year starts. And he questioned "whether team-oriented sports are the best way to develop the physical skills of our high school students."
The board said it would undertake a full review of the situation.
One of the features of live telecasts of PGA tournaments is a nearest-to-the-pin contest on a specified par-3 hole. The golfer who puts his tee shot closest wins an automobile. During 1972, 30 cars were given away in such competition, and Jerry McGee won four of them (Tony Jacklin took three, but no other golfer won more than once). Because McGee failed to win a tournament during the year and finished far down in the money list, perhaps the PGA should create a new category to recognize Jerry's unique talents, something like Year's Leading Auto Winner.
There is no closed sector on football in Texas. Even now in February, during the no-man's time between the last bowl game and the first spring-practice session, Texas coaches are up in the air over their annual recruiting race for outstanding high school players. It seemed for a time that a dogfight might break out over Odessa, home of five all-state players, but Darrell Royal of the University of Texas and Emory Bellard of Texas A&M were merely coming to town in private jets at the same time.
Each of the major schools has its own air force, so to speak, even Baylor, one of the smallest colleges in the Southwest Conference. Baylor Coach Grant Teaff has three private planes he can call on, plus another owned by the school. "In the 13 months I've been here," says Teaff, "I've logged 300 hours in the air. In one month I'll speak at 20 high school banquets and visit 80 prospects in their homes, practically all of them in different cities. Texas is a unique recruiting sector. It's demanding and very competitive."
Most of the aircraft are provided by wealthy alumni. "The athletic department could not handle the astronomical costs," says Jim Brock, assistant athletic director at Texas Christian. TCU has four planes at its disposal. "A private jet can burn up $1,000 in fuel in a day. And then there's the pilot's time. But the planes are necessary, and every coach uses them. They save time, they let a coach go directly into the smaller towns. And the schools save money."
DOWN AND OUT IN ENGLAND
You may never have heard of a fighter named Harry Bart, a bantamweight who fought in England for 39 years beginning more than half a century ago. Harry is 70 now and proud. He claims he was knocked out a total of 650 times, and he would like to know of any fighter anywhere who can match that record. The high point of his career was a 20-round bout in which he won the bantamweight championship of the county of Middlesex, but the low spots are what he likes to talk about. "I have heard more people shouting, 'Get up!' than any other boxer living," he says. "I was the best customer at a hospital in Leeds, my hometown. Once I was in a coma for a fortnight."
All the blows through all the years have had small adverse effect on Harry. "I was cast iron," he says. "I wasn't a defensive boxer and I had no fear." He even remembers, with considerable nostalgia, a fight he had once outside the ring when a boxer named Cockney Samuels slammed Bart in the mouth because of a presumed slight. "That was a good punch," says Harry wistfully. "I enjoyed that."
Soviet authorities have dealt a Yarborough to bridge players. According to the newspaper Sovetski Sport the board of the USSR Sports Committee has condemned bridge as "having nothing in common with the Soviet system of physical education and...socially harmful." In recent years bridge has become highly popular in the Soviet Union, and organized federations have thrived in Estonia and Lithuania with intercity competition. No more. Authorities say the formation of bridge clubs is "absolutely inadmissible." Indeed, playing bridge or any card game in public places, such as cafes, trains and even at the beach, is forbidden, and anyone caught can be fined. Moscow commuters, take note.
MORE ON LOSERS
Only five miles from Piedmont College (SCORECARD, Feb. 19), the school whose 47 straight losses set a new NAIA basketball record, is a small junior college called North Georgia Tech. North Georgia Tech has an 0-22 record. Just think: two teams in a five-mile area with a combined won-lost record of 0-69. Wait, check that. Piedmont later extended its streak to 50, so make it 0-72. And not very far away in Tennessee, Friendsville Academy ended a 138-game losing streak by beating St. Camillus Academy 62-53. For Friendsville, it was the first win in six years. For St. Camillus it was the 49th defeat in a row.
UPBEAT NOTE IN PHILLY
Not everything is bad in Philadelphia, despite W. C. Fields and endless jokes about Eagles and 76ers and the age-old traditions of last-place baseball teams. When the Philadelphia Teachers' Federation strike closed schools this winter, it also shut down interscholastic basketball competition, an appalling blow to the city's high school players, from whose ranks have come an impressive number of college and professional stars. While striking and non-striking teachers, the mayor, the school board, newspapermen and other vocal commentators were trading accusations and accomplishing little, a man named Sonny Hill went quietly and effectively to work.
There were plenty of schoolboy players, even teams, sitting idly about. Hill rallied them around, lined up volunteer coaches, found suitable gymnasiums, arranged for officials and schedules, even imposed a truce among warring factions in neighborhoods into which some players were reluctant to go. The strike continued, but so did organized basketball, which is of vital importance to the kids involved. Philadelphia may still be a loser's town, but in Sonny Hill it appears to have a winner.
Two of the most renowned women athletes in Australia, far from being envious of each other, have decided to trade skills. Swimmer Shane Gould, who won three gold medals during the Munich Olympics, likes tennis. Tennis star Evonne Goolagong, 1971 Wimbledon champion, likes swimming. So Shane will improve her serve with lessons from Evonne, who in turn hopes to correct what she calls "my sloppy arm action" by listening to Shane. Their mutual-aid program may continue in the U.S. Shane will be going to school in California, and Evonne expects to compete on the American tennis circuit before Wimbledon. Now if they can only find a court and a pool.
A LITTLE GRASS SHACK
Hawaii's tourist industry is up to its ears in crisis, but not for lack of visitors. It's the other way around. Hotels on Oahu and most of the neighboring islands are so overbooked that some tourists with confirmed reservations cannot get rooms. The situation is so serious—what good is it having people come to Hawaii if they can't find a place to sleep?—that officers of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau called on Governor John A. Burns last week and asked him to issue an appeal to homeowners to take in roomless tourists.
Such an overflow of visitors is unprecedented. In fact, a year ago there was even talk that Waikiki was badly overbuilt. What caused the sudden efflorescence of travelers? "It was the Hawaiian Open golf tournament," says Robert Herkes, hotel association president. The final round of the tournament was played on a blissful, cloudless day with temperatures hovering in the pleasant 80s. Live TV coverage beamed that splendid weather onto color sets all over the cloudy, damp, frosty, frigid U.S. mainland. "I'm certain," Herkes says, "that the day after the tournament travel agents got thousands of calls from people who suddenly decided they'd like to visit Hawaii."
IF YOU DRIVE, DON'T BREATHE
Those who sometimes feel aches and pains around the heart as they wrestle their 1967 Gaspers through rush-hour traffic should not attribute such evidences of anginal pain to the stress and strain of expressway driving. According to an article in a recent issue of Medical Tribune, what causes pain in angina-disposed drivers is not the ordeal of driving in traffic per se but the concentration of carbon monoxide spewed from the abundance of automobiles. The article indicated that the incidence of anginal pain did not rise even in heavy traffic when compressed, purified air was supplied during the journey. This probably means you can yell all you want at the guy in the next car, just as long as you don't inhale.
THEY SAID IT
•Jack Tillman, boxer, whose choirboy appearance belies his ranking as No. 7 in the world in the welterweight division: "I like the rating, but it's fun being the underdog. Guys would look across the ring and see my skinny arms and my scrawny chest and figure they had it made. I was sorry to see that look leave their faces."
•Jake Staples, of Louisiana State's Board of Supervisors, on LSU's appearances in the Sun and Bluebonnet bowls the last two seasons: "Every year we keep going to a minor bowl. If they have a Soybean Bowl next year, we'll probably be in that."
•Wayne Gibson, assistant athletic director at Miami University of Ohio, kidding a fellow coach in a speech during a sports banquet: "He's the only guy I know who wears two pairs of pants when he plays golf—just in case he has a hole in one."