The current tendency of columnists and editorialists, some of them astray from their political habitats, to emphasize American disillusionment with a once-favorite sport is both exaggerated and fatiguing.
The baseball strike is supposed to have dramatically opened the fans' eyes to the fact that baseball is "business after all" or "just commerce." This observation seems to give the pundit intense satisfaction, evidently because he feels sport has been dragged down to the level of the other daily activities with which the pundit is normally concerned.
In fact, only a fan of singular obtuseness could ever have thought that business was not a strong element in any professional sport. It is true that pro sport is sport as well as business, in what exact proportions it would be delicate to define; but in some proportion it must be. The owner or player who forgets or overlooks that will be digging his own grave, and we shall be happy to tell him so.
On the other hand, sport is still probably better organized and more cleanly run than a good many aspects of life around us. Those who insist that sport is merely part of the Great American Dream-Bubble belong to the vociferous group that would have us believe there is little or nothing in American society worth preserving.
Computers not only project election returns, they also predict Supreme Court decisions. At least they do in Michigan State's department of political science. Dr. Harold J. Spaeth says the computer is almost 100% correct in anticipating the court's decisions. How then will it act on Curt Flood vs. baseball? The crystal ball—er, computer—says Flood will win. The vote should be unanimous in his favor, although Justice Rehnquist may dissent. The decision will not be a total defeat for baseball, however. It will lose its immunity from antitrust laws, which it has had since the court's 1922 decision that the game did not constitute interstate commerce, but a "reasonable" form of the reserve clause will be retained. And there still will be several years of litigation about that in the lower courts.
O.K.? Now, about the election....
WISDOM OF BILLY
If the International Lawn Tennis Federation and World Championship Tennis, which is Lamar Hunt's stable of contract pros, do not reach agreement in their continuing negotiations to end the tennis civil war, Billy Talbert, the old doubles star who is tournament director at Forest Hills, thinks he has a solution that might save his tournament's prestige as America's No. 1 tennis show. If ILTF and WCT players are not allowed in the same tournament, suggests Talbert, why not put on separate but simultaneous tournaments—at the same place? The spectator coming out to Forest Hills to see his favorites would see all of them, with a WCT match here and an ILTF match there. On Saturday he would see the finals of both tournaments. And then, on Sunday—super-tennis!—with the champions of the separate groups meeting mano a mano in a grand finale.