Each season one team stands below all the rest, a laugher, a team of such colossal ineptitude that eventually its deeds of derring-don't attract a following of woe-wishers who impatiently scan score listings for evidence of every new disaster. Such a team this year is Lea College of Albert Lea, Minn., sitting some 100 miles directly south of Minneapolis on the Iowa border. The Lancers don't just lose games. They get slaughtered.
And they don't just get slaughtered; generally there is a funny story attached. As last week, when the Lea team piled into three cars, drove 450 miles to play Lakehead University in Ontario—the last 150 miles in a bizzard—and lost 106-54. Three players limped out of that affair with ankle injuries, leaving only six Lancers for the game the next night against Lakehead again. Score this time: 89-40.
Laughable? The most hilarious tragedy of all came a week earlier, against Parsons of Iowa. Lea showed up three hours late, after most of the original 500 fans had gone home to bed where, some wit was sure to have said, the Lancers should have stood. They lost by a staggering 129-56.
Even more calamitous than the score was the trip. But let Rev. Sam Robinson, the coach, tell it. A black (as were eight of the first 16 on his varsity), he had toured with Marques Haynes' Harlem Magicians and took the non-salaried job at Lea—for him a 226-mile round-trip, no-expense-paid drive from his home in St. Paul—while running a community retreat house. "On the way to the Parsons game we were pulled off the road by four police cars for going 85 in a 75-mile-an-hour zone near Kellogg, Iowa, then told to put our hands on the car." In court, while Rev. Robinson argued, Lea's five cheerleaders found some paint cans in the rest room and splattered the place with green, blue and red, which aren't even the school colors. The police were not amused. "As we were driving out of Kellogg, here came the police again," Robinson continued. "Back to court. We were charged $100. Now, next morning at 5:30 in Fairfield, Iowa the police are back, banging at my door, claiming one of my kids was involved in a theft. It took us six hours to prove it was a case of mistaken identity."
Which does not explain exactly why Lea is no UCLA, but does say why it is not always a laughing matter.