AN ATTACK ON THE CITADEL
Not that they are likely to change the face of sport in America—or even in their own school district—but a group of parents in Maryland has mounted a stinging attack on the way scholastic sport is handled. A school board in Howard County had proposed a revised athletic program that could, according to its critics, adversely affect things like intramurals and girls' sports while increasing even further interscholastic competition in the major sports. The parents came before the board in protest.
"Interscholastic athletics are for the few, not the many," charged Peter Weymouth, one of the objecting parents, "but it is possible to envision a sports program large and varied enough to involve all students." He argued that activities like gymnastics, tennis, golf, volleyball, swimming, table tennis and other such are "free from the risk of serious injury and can be enjoyed for many years after leaving school."
A variety of minor sports, conducted on an intramural level, would "be capable of generating excitement, developing school spirit and contributing to the health and well-being of the students involved," whereas overemphasis on varsity sports, he said, leads to such aberrations as school involvement in noneducational areas—problems relating to tickets, parking, concessions, advertising for programs and the like. Weymouth particularly attacked football, asserting, "It is the only sport where serious injuries are anticipated—without disappointment. It is hard to reconcile the board's support of football with all its risks and very limited educational value."
Another parent, Mrs. Angela Beltram, said, "There certainly is too much emphasis on winning. Is working a boy to death physical education?" Weymouth agreed, saying, "A need to win has taken much of the fun out of high school sport." He said student athletes spend too much time under pressure, attending long practices after school, playing in weekend games, reporting for practice in summer well before the school year starts. And he questioned "whether team-oriented sports are the best way to develop the physical skills of our high school students."
The board said it would undertake a full review of the situation.
One of the features of live telecasts of PGA tournaments is a nearest-to-the-pin contest on a specified par-3 hole. The golfer who puts his tee shot closest wins an automobile. During 1972, 30 cars were given away in such competition, and Jerry McGee won four of them ( Tony Jacklin took three, but no other golfer won more than once). Because McGee failed to win a tournament during the year and finished far down in the money list, perhaps the PGA should create a new category to recognize Jerry's unique talents, something like Year's Leading Auto Winner.
There is no closed sector on football in Texas. Even now in February, during the no-man's time between the last bowl game and the first spring-practice session, Texas coaches are up in the air over their annual recruiting race for outstanding high school players. It seemed for a time that a dogfight might break out over Odessa, home of five all-state players, but Darrell Royal of the University of Texas and Emory Bellard of Texas A&M were merely coming to town in private jets at the same time.
Each of the major schools has its own air force, so to speak, even Baylor, one of the smallest colleges in the Southwest Conference. Baylor Coach Grant Teaff has three private planes he can call on, plus another owned by the school. "In the 13 months I've been here," says Teaff, "I've logged 300 hours in the air. In one month I'll speak at 20 high school banquets and visit 80 prospects in their homes, practically all of them in different cities. Texas is a unique recruiting sector. It's demanding and very competitive."