THE PRICE OF INDIGNATION
Attendance at most major Thoroughbred racetracks was higher than ever in 1961. An exception was Tropical Park in Coral Gables, Fla. During the first half of its current 43-day meeting, attendance fell off by 8% and betting was off 6% compared with last year.
"It is clearly an economic condition, nothing else," says Saul Silberman, president of Tropical Park. But the economic condition that he blames seems not to have affected most other tracks. The mutuel handle at the nearby Flagler dog track is up 7%.
Perhaps other things are responsible. Silberman raised admission prices for the grandstand from $1.75 to $2, increased the cost of parking from $1 to $1.50 and, most significantly, upped the traditional Daily Double bet from $2 to $3. Silberman should recognize that bettors are peculiar people—or they probably wouldn't be bettors at all. They'll bet any money they happen to have or can raise on what they think is a good bet. But they'll back away like frightened deer from anything they don't like. We think they don't like Tropical's increased costs, and we think it's a good sign. Sport is famous for kicking the feathers off the goose that lays the golden eggs. It's pleasant to see the goose strike back once in a while.
BELLS ARE RINGING
Nobody needed to send to Australia last week to know for whom the bell tolled at Kooyong Stadium in Melbourne; it tolled for amateur tournament tennis and the din was deafening. One Australian newspaper described the straight-sets defeat of Nicola Pietrangeli and Orlando Sirola in the Davis Cup Challenge Round as a farce, and the word was apt for all amateur championship tennis at this point. Of the world's so-called "amateurs" Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Neale Fraser, who won so effortlessly at Melbourne, are probably the only three left whose games can be considered of championship caliber. One has already retired, and the other two are making plans to sign with the pros. How long after that will the diehard opponents of open tennis go on arranging and organizing national and international "championships" with no champions to play in them? If Melbourne proved anything last week, it proved that the time for open tennis is long past due. Gentlemen, the bell is ringing, and it's for you.
A lot of people are going to be surprised to learn that our Sportsman of the Year, Jerry Lucas (see page 22), is not as tall as Wilt Chamberlain. When Lucas was in high school in Middletown, Ohio, he was 6 feet 7�. As his reputation grew, the nation's press apparently decided he should grow, too. " Lucas is 6 feet 9," said an Ohio paper. "He's 6 feet 9�," said the Associated Press. "Six feet 10," said The New York Times. "Seven feet," said a Midwest paper. "It was ridiculous," says Jerry Lucas, who has often appeared to opponents to be seven feet tall but is still 6 feet 7� and isn't likely to grow any more.
THE INSIDE TRACK
? Boston boxing promoters are trying to build up a St. Patrick's Day fight between old Archie Moore and Tom McNeeley. Part of the buildup will be a January 22 bout between McNeeley and one of his recent sparring partners, Don Prout, for the vacated New England heavyweight championship.
?If the American Football League should fold, the National Football League probably would move the Pittsburgh Steeler franchise into Houston and the St. Louis Cardinal franchise into New Orleans.
?At least two teams, Hawaii and San Francisco, will drop out of the new American Basketball League at the end of this season. Hawaii is not making money, and travel to Hawaii is costing the other seven teams in the league considerable sums.