TAXES AND SPORT
A survey prepared for the National Sporting Goods Association, which understandably is keenly interested in the situation, indicates that in many cases interscholastic sports are in danger because of the current taxpayer revolt against school expenditures. The increasing costs of salaries and construction, combined with the general economic decline and the fact that school budgets and bond issues are about the only area where the citizen has a direct vote on how he will be taxed, have led to rejection of bonds and budgets all across the country. A significant 66% of the people questioned in the survey said that while they recognized the value of sport they would nonetheless favor a reduction in spending for interscholastic athletics if it meant a reduction in taxes.
Coupled with this is a growing feeling that interscholastic competition benefits relatively few students. And yet it appears that physical education programs for all students—particularly in inner city schools where they are most important—are too often inadequate. In Philadelphia, for example, where varsity sports were killed last year and then, after considerable controversy, revived (SI, Sept. 6, 1971 et seq.), as many as half the students in a class regularly cut phys ed.
Some put the blame for this on the teachers running the classes who because of budgetary inadequacies are either untrained in physical education or are varsity coaches whose primary interests lie elsewhere. "Most physical education teachers think coaching is more important than teaching," said one Philadelphia teacher-coach. "Coaches look for kids who are natural athletes. They see athletics as an end rather than as a vehicle for teaching."
He added that he did not think varsity athletics generally had the benefits so frequently attributed to them during last year's dispute. "Most kids who make it in high school sport could have continued to play in Boys Clubs, the YMCA, recreational leagues and so on. But when it came down to the [budgetary] crunch, it was remedial physical education classes that were cut out. Where are our priorities?"
SKI AND SEE
This solution comes a touch too late for the just-ended Winter Games, but surely the International Olympic Committee's Avery Brundage would be pleased to endorse Germany's Family Sport Society (FKK) whose members never, but never, display commercial brand names while skiing the Allg�uer Alps in the southwest corner of Bavaria. The society skis without really displaying much of anything in the way of labels: the area is restricted to nude schussers who pay $1.70 a day for the privilege of racing about raw. Nonmembers are welcome. Don't call us, call the German National Tourist Office.
The fetal World Hockey Association is trying to develop new teams in a variety of cities. The venerable National Hockey League is prepared to defend both its old, established franchises and its newer, hopeful ones. Oddly, neither group has moved toward the fertile ground—or ice—of San Diego. While NHL teams in Los Angeles and Oakland are struggling to attract fans—crowds have been as low as 3,000 and about the only time they get to 10,000 and above is when one of the six original NHL clubs come to town—the minor-league San Diego Gulls have been a hit ever since they came into existence in 1966. Average home attendance is far better than that in the higher population areas farther north in California.
Hockey expansionists say the crowds in San Diego are the result of minor-league ticket prices ($4.50 top), and the pension-based economy of that retirement city will not support the inflated ticket scale ($6.50 top) major league hockey had grown accustomed to. Maybe so, but where there are crowds there is interest. The old commercial theory that low price times high volume equals good profits could prove more valid than the high price, low volume situation in the rinks farther north.