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Gwilym S. Brown
October 23, 1972
Some think Jack Scott looks like the comedian, others say he acts like one. And Scott? Hired as Oberlin College's new athletic director, he agrees he is way out—but not dangerous
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October 23, 1972

Jeepers! Peepers Is In Charge Now

Some think Jack Scott looks like the comedian, others say he acts like one. And Scott? Hired as Oberlin College's new athletic director, he agrees he is way out—but not dangerous

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He is called Jack Scott, a crisp, sharp, easy-to-remember name that tends to cut through the fog cast up by some of the other things he is called, like "the Guru of Jock Liberation" and worse. At a time of radical demands, of player strikes, boycotts, dropouts, congressional hearings and huge engulfing clouds of rhetoric, the Merriwellian cadence of the name seems as pure and simple as the crack of bat meeting ball.

The man behind the name is an author ( Athletics for Athletes and The Athletic Revolution), activist (he cofounded with his wife Micki the Institute for the Study of Sport and Society) and spokesman for a growing number of Americans who are demanding a basic reexamination of sport. All this tends to make him a target.

For instance, Vice-President Agnew in a speech once denounced Scott as an enemy of sport. His heroes, Agnew suggested, must be Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Two years ago the University of Washington hired Scott as an assistant professor of physical education, then canceled the appointment before he even showed up because it was feared he would prove disruptive.

"Who and what is Jack Scott?" Yale Track Coach Bog Giegengack demanded to know after a particularly opinionated and unflattering article on coaches by Scott had appeared in Track & Field News. The fact is, despite all the publicity attended on Scott, nobody—maybe not Scott himself—really knew what he was until recently when some hard clues began emerging in the vicinity of north-central Ohio. Up to a few months ago Scott's work had been almost entirely in the realm of theory. Then last spring little Oberlin College (enrollment: 2,600) had enough faith in Scott's approach to athletics to sign him to a four-year contract starting at $16,000 a year as chairman of the physical education department and athletic director. Administrators everywhere will be watching closely with various degrees of enthusiasm and horror as Scott puts his theories into practice. "Every person with a new approach and ideas ought to have the opportunity to pass them along," said Dr. Joe Kearney, the Washington athletic director, when he heard the news. "I wish him success."

"Somehow and some way college sports and Oberlin will survive," remarked James Decker, the athletic director at Scott's alma mater, Syracuse, when he heard the news.

While the prevailing view of Scott in the sports Establishment—from the National Football League to National Collegiate Athletic Association administrative circles—is that he is an irresponsible radical and an "enemy of sport," Scott considers himself an unrepentant jock. He lifts weights, runs five miles a day and in 1964 voted for Barry Goldwater for President.

Scott's manner and appearance have astonished people meeting him for the first time. New York television sports-caster Dick Schaap, apparently disappointed that Scott did not start beating on the table with a sandal during their interview, asked, "Are you always so rational or is this an unusual day?"

George Saner, former wide receiver for the New York Jets, was equally surprised. "He was quite different from what I would have expected if I had expected anything," said Sauer, obviously confused. "I realize that doesn't make much sense, but I can't put it any better than that."

What Sauer and the others see is a man of 30 who looks more like Mr. Peepers with muscles than the anarchist he is often accused of being. At 6'1" and 170 pounds, Scott usually wears gold-rimmed glasses and a scraggly light brown mustache. His hair has all but abandoned the front and top of his head. He speaks in a soft monotone that is less spellbinding than somnolent. Though his attire is informal—for example, flared corduroy trousers and a leather jacket—he has not yet broken out in beads and a flowered Indian kurta.

So what's the fuss? Well, there is Scott's Athletics for Athletes which he published at his own expense during the post-Olympic winter of 1968-69. In it Scott charges that collegiate sports and the coaching fraternity are guilty of assorted misdemeanors ranging from racism to authoritarianism. Another Scott enterprise, Dave Meggyesy's Out of Their League, tears into football's brutality and regimentation with rare verve. Scott helped Meggyesy with the writing while the former St. Louis Cardinal linebacker (also a Syracuse alumnus) was in residence at Scott's Institute for the Study of Sport in Oakland.

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