The Congressional inquiry into the latest NCAA-AAU dispute is pointless, says one weary observer of the amateur scene. "Everyone says the two groups should sit down and work, out their differences," he says, "but that's where we keep going wrong. We can't have two groups. We're the only country in the world that does not have one administrative body governing amateur sport. As long as we have two, no matter what sort of temporary peace they work out, there'll be trouble.
"But neither the AAU nor the NCAA has the right to be that sole body. The AAU is an anachronism. It was organized a century ago to protect amateurs from professional inroads, but by the first decades of this century it was obvious that most amateur sport was in schools and colleges. The scholastic groups should have taken over, but the AAU leaders were—and still are—jealous of their position and refused to let go. They had a powerful weapon: the AAU is the U.S. body recognized by international federations. That's the only reason the AAU has any authority at all today.
"O.K. The NCAA should have become the nucleus of a new organization 50 years ago, but it's too late now. The NCAA has forfeited its position as an amateur authority because its prime responsibility today is the stability and financial well-being of big-time college football and basketball, which are essentially professional sports. Nothing wrong with that; it's not a sin to be a pro. But the financial problems of football and basketball—the arenas, season ticket sales, lucrative TV contracts, recruiting costs, coaches' salaries, distribution of income—are incompatible with the problems of administering the nonprofessional sports, including track and field and swimming, the two most important Olympic events.
"The solution? The AAU should be disbanded. The NCAA should establish a separate division devoted entirely to big-time football and basketball. The remainder of the NCAA and the NAIA and the other scholastic and club associations should reorganize into one federation which would have international affiliations and jurisdiction over all amateur sport in the U.S.
"It may sound farfetched and impractical, but it is the only solution if we are interested in the future health of amateur sport in this country."
This has to have happened somewhere before. Bellefontaine ( Ohio) High School's basketball team had a 5'10" guard named Long and a 6'5" center named Short.
It is a verity: when a politician talks about sport he makes a fool of himself. He also makes headlines, which is What he wants in the first place. Eighteen Congressmen have signed a letter asking that Lee Elder, a black, be invited to the Masters Tournament. No black has ever competed in the event, an unpleasant fact of life that has been well publicized in the past. The letter, sent to Tournament Chairman Clifford Roberts, says, "Surely if a man such as Lee Elder can play in South Africa [which he has]...there can be no possible justification for him and others of his race not to play at Augusta."
Elder is a good golfer, but under the Masters' rules of eligibility for inviting U.S. pros (top 16 in the U.S. Open, top eight in the PGA Championship and the like) he has not yet qualified. The categories were altered a year ago to allow winners of regular tour events to compete this year, a further opening of the door to blacks. None have yet qualified, but inevitably—most likely in the next year or so—one or more will.