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December 09, 1968
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December 09, 1968


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Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall has ordered that the operations of national parks and campgrounds be cut back. Because Congress reduced funds for the recreational service, the Secretary said mournfully, there was no other recourse. Accordingly, as of this week, Carlsbad Caverns National Park will be closed every Tuesday and Wednesday. Other national parks and monuments in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma and elsewhere are also closing down two days a week—different days for different parks. Tourist brochures were already out when the shutdowns were ordered, so there are going to be some very confused and disappointed park visitors—and the tourist trade (in New Mexico the third largest industry) will suffer.

Not only will communities lose business and individuals pleasure, but the government seems likely to lose more in taxes than it gains in piddling economy—and semiskilled employees of parks, motels and restaurants will be added to the welfare rolls. As Secretary Udall pointed out in his statement ordering curtailment, visits to the national parks have increased from 103 million in 1963 to 152 million in 1968, with 42 new areas added. And yet park staffs must now be reduced. Congressmen often orate about America's scenic beauties and the need for recreation, but they apparently think that these—as opposed to congressional junkets—are good things to scrimp on. The National Park Service, although it is wary of saying so, would be happy to see a public outcry and a flood of mail to Congressmen.


The theory that the home field confers an advantage in football was put to a test recently in a game between the Kansas high school teams of Eskridge and Alta Vista. The game began, as scheduled, on the Eskridge field, cut to 50 yards in length because half the field was under water. Eskridge was ahead 13-0, when, just as the half ended, an Eskridge punt struck a field light, shorting out the lighting system and plunging the field into darkness.

Whereupon school officials loaded teams, spectators and cheerleaders into buses and moved them the 25 miles to Alta Vista, where the second half was played on a 100-yard field. In that half Alta Vista outscored Eskridge 12-0, making the final score 13-12, Eskridge. So the home-field advantage would seem to have been demonstrated conclusively. But it just may be that Eskridge is the better 50-yard team.

Stu Aberdeen, assistant basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, has bought a new broom to use this season. Not that his job entails a little light sweeping. He is only 5'6", and when he demonstrates defensive techniques he uses the broom to block shots.


Matters of black and white keep cropping up in collegiate sports. At the University of Wisconsin, racial discord on the winless football team became open last week when 18 black athletes boycotted the annual football banquet. The Wisconsin situation has an unusual feature; the father of Quarterback Lew Ritcherson, one of the discontented blacks, is an assistant coach, Les Ritcherson. After Head Coach John Coatta told an interviewer earlier in the year that any racial problems had been ironed out, the elder Ritcherson told the same interviewer: "There is a black-white problem. Coatta just doesn't realize it." One of the reported black grievances was Lew's early-season loss of the starting quarterback slot.

Meanwhile, at San Jose State College, seven black members of the team refused to play in last week's game with Brigham Young on the grounds that Mormon doctrine is insulting to Negroes. The boycotters had been told that such an action would cost them their scholarships. The student council has said it will suspend all appropriations to the athletic department if any scholarships are withdrawn. San Jose Coach Harry Anderson's resignation became effective after the game. The black athletes are sponsoring Walt Roberts, a former San Jose star, as his replacement and are said to have approached an established Negro coach for permission to submit his name also.

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