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Why so many games in such a short space of time? In a word: money. Funds for the trip melted away in inflation. The number of Chilean escudos that would have paid the expenses of 22 players and coaches last February will take care of only 10 of them now. So the team is obligated to live off its gate receipts—as well as travel every day, get along without practice sessions, play all its games on alien courts and adjust to U.S. basketball rules. And the schedule is hardly a pipe, since it includes such top college teams as Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois State, Marquette, Missouri, UTEP and Weber State.
GROWING OLD UNGRACEFULLY
The high-salaried contracts top professional athletes sign can become self-defeating, especially when a star begins to falter. Machdi Abdul-Rahman, the former Walt Hazzard, found that out last week when the Buffalo Braves asked waivers on him. Since only two of the 17 NBA teams had worse records than the Braves' 3-11, you would think a club that inept could make some use of a man of Abdul-Rahman's still evident skills. Maybe, but apparently not for $100,000, or whatever figure the player's current contract calls for. That high salary tends to mute interest in him by other teams, too.
The same trend is evident in baseball and football. The San Francisco Giants are said to be ready and willing, even eager, to get rid of high-salaried Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal, even as they divested themselves of Willie Mays last spring. A somewhat different situation exists in Baltimore, where the age-old love affair between the Colts and Johnny Unitas went on the rocks. Unitas chafed when the Colts benched him in order to experiment with youth and probably would prefer to be an active quarterback elsewhere than second string in Baltimore. And there are teams that would be delighted to take him on for a year or so in hopes of one splendid last hurrah. But his high salary and long-term contract make such a move a fearfully expensive burden, which means that unhappy John and unhappy Colts will most likely have to go on living uneasily with one another.
BUY ONE FOR THE GIPPER
Advertisements are beginning to appear on sports pages here and there aimed at Notre Dame football fans. "Great gift idea!" it cries, and you go on to learn that for only $37.50 you can buy a genuine, original bleacher seat from Notre Dame Stadium. "Installed by Knute Rockne," the ad says, leaving you with a vision of Pat O'Brien personally bolting the seats to the grandstand floor.
All this is the inspired work of John Demand, president of H. P. Demand and Associates, Inc. of Evanston, Ill., whose business ordinarily is fund raising for churches, hospitals, colleges and so on. When the old redwood seats were removed from the stadium in 1971 after 40 years of service, a friend of Demand's who had a lumber company bought them. After looking at them for a while he suggested to Demand that they might be good for fund raising, and they came up with a plan in which anyone who gave $100 to Notre Dame would receive one of the seats. But Notre Dame had just finished a fund-raising campaign and turned down the idea. Another proposal—raising money for multiple sclerosis through Notre Dame Coach Ara Parseghian—also fell through.
After that, there was nothing to do but go commercial. Ads were placed in Notre Dame football programs and, later, in newspapers. Sales were slow at first, but Demand was sure they would soar when the word began to reach the subway alumni, that amorphous body of middle-aged Notre Dame fans who still remember Rockne. "The only thing we're trying to sell is nostalgia," Demand explained. "Once these are gone, they're gone."
THE SPECTRUM WIDENS