It used to be that young athletes were urged to emulate sports heroes. At Arizona State, men's tennis coach Lou Belken is suggesting just the opposite. He's trying to curb the obstreperous on-court behavior that's becoming increasingly fashionable among impressionable young players, a symptom that could be medically described as McEnroe's Complaint.
He proposes a system of fines that would be deducted from scholarship allotments for the following year (he still needs authorization from the university, the Pac-10 and the NCAA). There would be penalties for obscenities, off-color gestures and what is euphemistically described as equipment abuse (flinging rackets, whacking nets, gouging court surfaces). For example, using a particularly choice expletive during a practice session would cost an offender $10. Blurting it out during a tournament would boost the ante to $ 100.
Belken concedes that such behavior is not yet a major issue at Arizona State but, as he told Phoenix Gazette columnist Tim Tyers, "It's a problem the sport has from juniors through professionals. We want to put people in the stands, and we want to present a product that doesn't offend anyone."
We've written in the past (SCORECARD, Feb. 25, 1985) about the shabby way that Pulitzer Prize selections for outstanding newspaper journalism treat the working stiffs on the sports pages. Despite the important and popular role that sports sections play in newspapers in every part of this country, sportswriters are seldom cited for the Pulitzer awards.
Columbia University, which administers the Pulitzers, has just announced the journalism jury that will present its candidates for this year's awards to the Pulitzer Prize board. The jury of 65 men and women includes editors and publishers, managing editors, executive editors, editorial page editors, photographers, correspondents, a curator, a fellowship director and a journalism professor. The 18-person Pulitzer board also includes an eclectic mix of journalists. But neither jury nor board has anyone from sports. Why? Why do the Pulitzers treat newspaper sports journalists as second-class citizens and continue to pretend that the sports pages are not a vital part of the daily press?
In Holland, Mich., early in the second half of a women's basketball game between Albion College and Hope College, everyone and everything in Hope's Dow Center gymnasium began to quaver as the nightly Chicago-to- Grand Rapids freight train rumbled past. "It comes through every night right at 6:45," said Hope sports information director Tom Renner. "The tracks are only 25 yards from the gym. You can feel the whole place shake."
A moment later, with Albion leading 40-28, the gym suddenly blacked out. The 84-car train had derailed two blocks from the Dow Center, slamming down telephone poles and power lines. The game was suspended.