THE NEW AMERICAN WAY
The troubles the press has from time to time with various athletes or teams is usually of only parochial interest, something to be reported and commented on in Editor and Publisher or (MORE), journals read almost exclusively by journalists. But a contretemps that occurred recently at the National Indoor Open Tennis Championships in Salisbury, Md. seems worthy of somewhat wider report.
The room usually reserved for reporters was not available, and a press section was set up in the front rows of the grandstand. Several reporters facing deadlines were typing their stories during play, and the clacking of typewriter keys upset the sacrosanct silence usually observed during tennis matches. One of the competitors asked that the typing stop or else be done only between points. Fans around the press section picked up the request and began shouting at the reporters, particularly Mark Asher of the Washington Post, who was still typing his copy. According to tournament director Bill Riordan, "The players asked Asher to stop typing, that he was bothering them. Then the crowd got on him. I've never seen anything like that—several hundred fans screaming, pointing fingers at him."
Asher said, "If I can't type on deadline during a match, there's no sense in my paper sending me to cover it. I called the tournament office twice and they said go on typing, that they would send a message to the players telling them I couldn't stop." Finally, a fan came into the press section, grabbed Asher's typewriter and tried to carry it away. "I don't know who he was," Asher said. "He was a skinny, well-dressed executive type. I asked Riordan to have him arrested. Riordan said, 'Sorry, we gave you your chance to stop typing.' Then he had me thrown out."
Riordan said, "I suggested that Mark leave. I told him he was creating a disturbance and asked a policeman to escort him out. There's a point when the press has a responsibility to the public, and Mark went well beyond that point. If you're on the scene and the crowd is rioting, public opinion takes over. That's the American way."
The new foul rule in high school and colege basketball, which was designed to speed play by reducing the number of free-throw attempts, reached an apogee in a game in Rockville, Md. between Rockville and Paint Branch high schools. Over the previous five seasons, Rockville High and its opponents had an average of 37 free throws a game. But in the Paint Branch game, which Rockville won 60-44, there were none. None at all. No player was fouled in the act of shooting and neither team committed enough non-shooting fouls to create a bonus free-throw situation.
No one around Rockville could remember a basketball game in which not a single free throw was attempted. It was kind of fun. The game, starting promptly at 8 p.m., was lively all the way through and was over by three minutes to nine. But no free throws? What's the world coming to?
GOTTA HAVE HEART
A 4-year-old mare named Pretty Daffidel (no one ever claimed people around racetracks know how to spell) looked rather dismal as she finished last in a race at Charles Town recently, but the next day she produced a pretty good excuse. She gave birth to a colt. "It was a complete surprise to me," said Trainer Howard (Buck) Townsley. "I came out at the usual feeding time and there it was. I thought it was a dog in the stall. He was curled up in a corner, not moving a muscle." Townsley said the sire was Watch Tiger, a 7-year-old stallion Owner Carlos McDaniel bought at the same time he bought Pretty Daffidel. "We had no idea she was in foal," Townsley added. "We assumed they were both ready for racing."