Sport was a major subject for discussion at the cable-TV convention in Chicago last week. A widespread assumption that it is only a matter of time before major events like the World Series and the Super Bowl are exclusively on cable TV was refuted. Robert Rosencrans of Columbia Cable said, "This may shock you, but we'll never take the Super Bowl away from free TV. Our potential lies in new areas, and in events not being shown on free TV." Part of the reason for this, of course, is the FCC's five-year anti-siphoning rule, which says cable TV cannot telecast a sports event into an area if it has been shown on conventional TV locally at any time during the previous five years. The FCC rule is one reason why Arthur Wirtz of the Chicago Black Hawks has not been televising Hawk home games. "I want to leave the door open for cable TV," he said.
Sports entrepreneurs tend to feel that free televising of home games hurts attendance, but cable TV, possibly because the viewer has to pay to watch it, seems another matter. Jack Dolph, commissioner of the ABA, said, "The New York Nets had a standing-room-only crowd in a playoff game at home, yet it was their 104th game of the year, and all were shown on the cable to half of Manhattan. I can't see where cable TV of home games hurts." C. Charles Jowaiszas of New York's Madison Square Garden echoed that thought: "We've got 125,000 cable-TV subscribers who were able to see 125 sports events last year, mostly home games of the Knicks and Rangers. Cable TV seems to maintain or even increase home attendance."
As for Rosencrans' comment on new events and new areas, Philip Hochberg, a Washington attorney with cable-TV interests, said, "We can create a demand. We can televise events that conventional TV would not find commercially feasible. We can carry a karate championship even if only 20 people in some New Jersey town are interested in seeing it."
HASTA LA VISTA
Canonero II, implausible hero of the 1971 Kentucky Derby who proved himself a genuine champion in winning the Preakness, and who, worn down by injury and illness, failed in the Belmont, came back to the wars last weekend in the $57,000 Carter Handicap at Belmont Park. Bought from his Venezuelan owners for a reported $1.25 million by Robert Kleberg of King Ranch, the horse recuperated for 11 months. In the Carter he got off slowly, ran a distant last for a while in the field of eight and then, turning for home, began a cannonball rush through the slop that enabled him to finish a strong second behind Leematt. Trainer Buddy Hirsch was delighted with the performance and plans to run him back in the big handicap races later, which is good news. After the stunning demise of Riva Ridge in the Preakness (page 36), racing needs Canonero's glamour.
GRIER ON GUNS
Roosevelt Grier, the old Penn State and NFL lineman who turned to acting and politics when his playing days ended, was in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles four years ago when Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Last week when he heard about the shooting of George Wallace he could not speak for 15 minutes. "Having been through it once," he said, "it was like another kick in the stomach. Now, Governor Wallace—I was not a fan of his, but he had every right to speak out about what he believed in. In the end, the voters would make the decision. The majority rules. I'll always believe in that.
"I admired Dr. Martin Luther King and his nonviolent stand. I spoke to him the last time during a plane ride. Not long after he was killed, and then a few months later it was Bobby Kennedy. After that a lot of us, Astronaut John Glenn included, battled for gun control. I think anything that makes it more difficult to get a gun should be done. You have to start somewhere.
"The shame of it is, it takes something like this tragedy to publicize it. Every day you have people shooting one another, but the gun laws remain weak and ineffective. Remember that many of the young people in this country have read of nothing but war. The violence growing out of World War II hasn't ended yet, and it helps create a climate of fear and suspicion, an attitude that no one can be trusted. Violence in America won't end until attitudes change."
SMITE THEM HIP AND THIGH