FIX THE FIX LAWS
A few weeks ago we suggested (SI, Jan. 22) that bribery in sport ought to be a felony everywhere, instead of a misdemeanor in some states and a felony in others. Just how stupidly diverse the law is with respect to bribery was revealed last week by Wilbur N. Stalcup, University of Missouri basketball coach and president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
A while back he ordered a survey of bribery law, and now he has sent the results to NABC members with a recommendation that they press for strong legislation in states that either have no laws against bribery in sport, or weak laws.
Stalcup discovered that 16 states and territories have no law at all on sports bribery. These are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, the Virgin Islands and Wyoming. In Iowa it is illegal to bribe an athlete but quite legal for the athlete to accept the bribe.
In Illinois and Minnesota an athlete who takes a bribe is barred from organized sport for life. Indiana is less severe on amateurs than on professionals.
Almost invariably, Stalcup found, specific abuses have been necessary to stir the legislatures into adopting more stringent laws. After the Black Sox scandal in 1919, states began passing athletic bribery laws, but most of them related only to baseball. After 1941 investigations revealed corruption in horse racing, several states broadened their statutes to include sports other than baseball. And after the 1951 basketball scandals, some states took cognizance of point-shaving and made it illegal.
Wilbur Stalcup has done a fine job for his sport. We hope his NABC members complete the work by appealing to their state legislatures for action.
JFK AND THE DODGERS
We learned the other day of a nonpolitical meeting in Brooklyn some 15 years ago that could have changed history. The lead characters in the session were Branch Rickey and Walter O'Malley of the Dodgers and Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy.
"Back in 1947." explains O'Malley, " Branch Rickey [then president of the Dodgers] began negotiating with Joseph Kennedy to sell him stock in the Dodgers. Kennedy said he was looking for an interesting activity for his son, who had been wounded in service and wanted to get started in something. The idea was that if Kennedy bought the club, his son John could be president and Rickey could stay on as general manager." As things turned out, the deal never went through because Joseph Kennedy thought the nation was headed for troubled times and the investment would not be sound.