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PROMISES TO KEEP
The Philadelphia Board of Education's decision last week to restore varsity sports and all extracurricular school activities was received with delight in that city's 18 high schools. "Break down the door!" yelled an exultant Roxborough High football player as the hastily reassembled team raced from the dressing room onto the practice field.
The school board's 100% turnaround (SI, Sept. 6) was the result of financial promises it received from city politicians. Retiring Mayor James H. J. Tate said that the $35 million needed to offset an anticipated deficit in the school-system budget (the extracurricular program, including sports, accounted for about $2.3 million of that deficit) would be forthcoming after all in the 1971-72 fiscal year. Of the $35 million, $20 million is expected to come from the Federal Government under President Nixon's revenue-sharing program, which is still being considered by Congress, and another $7 million from a proposed increase (from 2% to 5%) in the state tax on pari-mutuel betting at Liberty Bell Park.
Even though this means that the money is still anticipatory, Republican mayoralty candidate Thacher Longstreth and 13 of the 15 Republican candidates for the city council have declared that, if elected, they would produce whatever money was needed, and Frank Rizzo, the conservative Democratic candidate for mayor, made a similar promise.
A relieved, if slightly cynical, comment on the situation came from another Roxborough player. "It wasn't looking too good in the summer," he said, "and I felt for a while there might not be any football at all. But then I thought that by the time of the election they'd come through with the money."
Pro football fans have howled for years about the practice many clubs follow of sticking preseason exhibition games into season-ticket plans. If you want a seat for the seven regular-season home games, the would-be spectator was told, then, baby, you got to buy tickets to the exhibitions, too.
Now a strong precedent has been established in favor of the fan who wants the privilege of taking his exhibitions or leaving them alone. Massachusetts Attorney General Robert H. Quinn advised the New England Patriots that if they persisted in tying preseason games to their season-ticket packages, the club would be subject to antitrust action. Last week Billy Sullivan, president of the Patriots, bowed to the deterring arm of the law and announced that his team wouldn't do it anymore.
Once again, Boston may be the cradle of liberty. How far will this rebellion spread?
TEDDY TELLS 'EM