Povich died last Thursday of a heart attack, leaving sports writing with one less giant. A lot of journalists loved Gary Cooper in Pride of the Yankees, but how many were in Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, when the Iron Horse proclaimed himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth? Povich was. A lot of journalists still working could tell you about covering the '72 Olympics in Munich. But when Povich sprinted past policemen to secure a rooftop vantage point, he was 67 years old.
Povich possessed neither the crystalline style of his close friend Red Smith nor the acid wit of Jim Murray. He gained his reputation as Washington's finest (Richard Nixon said that Povich's column was the only thing he read in the Post) by being fair-minded and having a vision that extended beyond the quotidian fate of the home team. He was one of the first writers for whom a loss by the home team did not inspire apoplexy—"Maybe because I covered a loser [the Senators] for so many years, it was easier for me to become detached," he said—and he used the power of his bully pulpit to badger baseball to accept blacks years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
His proudest moments came in his candid treatment of George Preston Marshall, who owned the Redskins from 1932 to '69. Povich needled Marshall for his penny-pinching and his egotism and skewered him for his racism. (No blacks played for Washington until '62.) Wrote Povich in one memorable Line: "Jimmy Brown, born ineligible for the Skins, played an excellent game yesterday." For three quarters of a century, Povich, too, played an excellent game.
Punishment by Press Release
After 66 days of poring over written statements, the NCAA has spoken. What was the "sentence" it handed down to Makhtar Ndiaye, the North Carolina center who falsely accused Utah freshman forward Britton Johnsen of using racial slurs during their Final Four game, a charge that Ndiaye later recanted? The NCAA called it a "public reprimand."
This action means next to nothing. There's no penalty attached. It might have carried some weight had it been either timely or truly public. Instead, it was dispensed in a letter to the university and a statement released two weeks after Ndiaye—who received no public punishment from his team or school—had graduated.
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