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FOOT FAULT FOR NAACP
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an organization which has done enormous good for American blacks, now is undertaking a project that will trouble many of its well-wishers.
Jack E. Robinson, head of the Boston chapter of NAACP, has announced that the association will undertake an "active protest" against all sports events featuring athletes from South Africa, beginning with next month's professional tennis championships at Longwood Cricket Club and the Massachusetts Golf Classic at Pleasant Valley Country Club. Cliff Drysdale, Frew McMillan and Bob Maud, South African tennis players, are entered at Longwood and Gary Player and Harold Henning at Pleasant Valley.
"The Boston tournaments will be the opening round of national protests of sporting events in which any South African appears," Robinson says. "There are no reasons why these representatives of apartheid should be welcome in the United States."
While it grows more and more difficult to keep sports and politics separate, there is no more reason to think that South African athletes are necessarily "representatives of apartheid" than that Americans abroad are representatives of the Ku Klux Klan—or the Black Panthers.
Until he was put on the 21-day disabled list, Denny McLain, his record 5 and 15, had a chance to become the first major-leaguer to both win and lose 30 games in single seasons. That he won 31 games in 1968 for Detroit, a good team, and is now pitching for Washington, a weak team, is only part of the explanation. McLain missed half of last season because of his suspension for a gambling involvement. His pitching effectiveness never returned.
In most sports, year-long absences have been costly. Curt Flood was hitting .200 before he quit earlier this year, no small letdown for a near .300 hitter. Paul Hornung returned after a year's gambling suspension and lost his field-goal touch; after 15 for 22 and 6 for 10 seasons, he made 12 of 38 attempts and probably cost the Green Bay Packers a title. And, of course, there is Muhammad Ali, 3� years out of boxing and no longer heavyweight champion.
Some, like Ted Williams, Sugar Ray Robinson and Tony Conigliaro (until his eyesight failed), have been able to make noteworthy comebacks. But for the most part it seems that sabbaticals are fine for scholars but dreadful for athletes.