A week ago Army was looking forward to accepting a bowl bid for the first time, but then the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Johnson, reportedly voiced his now-famous view that football "hardly gives a picture of a peace-loving nation" (SCORECARD, Nov. 20). So any military man could probably have anticipated what was going to happen next. No bowl, said the Pentagon. The Secretary of the Army had decided that "accepting an invitation to play in a postseason game would tend to emphasize football to an extent not consistent with the basic mission of the Academy, which is to provide Army career officers." Or, as the statement was abbreviated in press and radio accounts, Army is supposed to train officers, not football players.
That Navy has played in four bowl games in the past 11 years and the Air Force in two is of no particular consequence. What is interesting is the fact that Army has been striving hard to build its prestige in order to attract top Academy candidates and that part of this image-lifting has been done through its football team. Army was aware, presumably, that applications to the Naval Academy quadrupled in the years immediately following Navy's first bowl appearance.
It also might be noted that Army All-America Don Holleder was killed in action last month. Doc Blanchard is now on his way to Vietnam; Bill Carpenter has recently come back with a Distinguished Service Cross, and Pete Dawkins is back with his bronze star. It may be a small issue, but we don't see anything mutually exclusive about training officers and football players.
When it comes to service-academy football we prefer the 1966 view of Lyndon Johnson, as expressed in a message to the Midshipmen and Cadets in the Army-Navy game program last year: "The courage and the confidence of this gridiron battle are the same courage and confidence which win our common battles on foreign fronts.... May today's spirit pave the way to tomorrow's triumph."
In short, if there were other reasons for keeping Army out of a bowl game, they should be stated. If not, let 'em play.
The word in Las Vegas last week was that the "short, chubby man from Connecticut" who made 50 straight passes at a Dunes crap table not long ago (SCORECARD, Oct. 30) and collected $25,000 might have been using dice coated with cobalt-60—a radioactive substance—along with a small electronic device that would control their fall. The cobalt-60, it was said, could have been rubbed on existing dice during the game without knowledge of the pit bosses, and the small electronic mechanism could have been concealed in a vest pocket. But the Nevada Gaming Control Board, after making an investigation, declared there was no truth to the tale. The dice used by the chubby man were micro-metered for defects and other abnormalities and were found to be perfect and exact cubes. They will be displayed in a specially built case outside of the casino, and The Dunes says it will offer $250,000 in cash to anyone who breaks the Connecticut man's record.
A STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLE
The U.S. Lawn Tennis Association has decided to vote on three questions at its annual meeting in February: 1) Shall Americans be allowed to play in the open tournament at Wimbledon? 2) Shall there be an abolition of the distinction between amateurs and pros? 3) Shall an attempt be made to bring the administration of pro tennis under the USLTA?
There is a good chance American players will be allowed to participate at Wimbledon, but apparently the country's top tennis stars intend to appear no matter what the official decision is. Arthur Ashe told SPORTS ILLUSTRATED last week: "I will play. I hope saying this will not get me banned from the Davis Cup team, but I'll risk it. If I'm declared a pro I guess I'll just join the pros when I'm discharged from the Army in February 1969. An open Wimbledon is a move against tennis hypocrisy. I've been speaking out for this kind of tournament for a longtime, and so has Billie Jean [King]. It would be hypocritical of us not to support our beliefs by failing to enter."