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SNAFU AS USUAL
LABOR AND MANAGEMENT
Last week, as negotiations between National Football League players and owners appeared to be nearing settlement, John Mackey, the massive tight end of the Baltimore Colts who is president of the NFL Players Association, had some comments on the labor dispute. "I know there must be many fringe players who were worried," he said, "but none of them were more worried than me. After all, I'm a football player, too. But they elected me to this job, and I made sure I wasn't going to get taken in by smooth talk. I gave up all my off-season work, took courses in labor law, surrounded myself with the smartest people I could find, and did my homework. Some of the owners were trying to be fair, but I think they thought it would be a breeze, that we would walk in and have a drink and sign a contract. They didn't realize that we were coming prepared. The important thing was to lay down some guidelines and precedents so that in the future players get a fair share of the profits and a decent pension system."
What comprises a fair share was one of the major stumbling blocks to a settlement. An article in the Baltimore Sun quoted a "source close to the negotiations" who claimed that under the existing pension plan and the present performance of the fund (its earnings have averaged better than 10% a year) the owners' proposal would provide a pension of $26,000 a year at 65 for five-year players and $57,000 a year for 10-year veterans. The players' proposal, the source said, would result in a $38,000 pension for five-year men and $84,000 for 10-year men.
DOWN THE HATCH
OLD ORDER PASSING
Both the U.S. Open tennis championships at Forest Hills and the U.S. pro championships at Boston will augment traditional tennis scoring with the sudden-death tie-breaker system long advocated by Jimmy Van Alen, the inventor of VASSS (Van Alen Simplified Scoring System). If a set reaches six-all in games, the players will alternate serves in a best-of-nine-points sequence; the first to gain five points in this postscript wins the set. This eliminates the possibility of marathons like the 25-23 set John Newcombe won from Marty Riessen last year or the famous 18-16 set in the 1949 singles final between Pancho Gonzales and Ted Schroeder. In sudden-death tennis, no set can go beyond the odd-looking score of 7-6.
Not everyone likes the idea. Rod Laver, defending champion at both tournaments, says, "Sudden-death isn't fair. Nobody ever consults the players, who all hate it. We recognize the need for some form of tie-breaker, but the best-of-nine system gives one player five serves and the other four. Obviously, the bloke with the first serve has a terribly unfair advantage." Officials, on the other hand, are convinced that spectators will love the new system, and they hope television will, too, now that the TV people can be sure no match will last interminably—meaning past scheduled air time.
Despite Laver's objections, the new system is probably as fair as one can be, and it certainly is modern and progressive and efficient. Still, it is sad to think that long-drawn-out matches between titans of the court are a thing of the past. They may have messed up TV schedules but, like an extra-inning baseball game, sometimes they became almost unbearably exciting.
NOT SO GRAND