SO SHALL YE REAP
Politicians, whose popular image can use refurbishing, are seeing an easy way to please sports fans by abolishing local TV blackouts of home games, even though professional football insists that the game's continued financial health requires such blackouts. It is disagreeable to watch sports commissioners being told by Congressmen how to administer their affairs, and club owners how best to run their business, according to the mood of the moment in Washington. But it is also true that Pete Rozelle and others in sport have sadly weakened their case by past readiness to accept congressional favors, such as exemptions from antitrust laws. They can't have it both ways.
New York horse racing is in a bad way. Legalized off-track betting upset the fine balance that used to exist between undercover and pari-mutuel betting at both thoroughbred and harness racing tracks, and sent attendance and wagering at the tracks skidding. Horsemen complained that OTB was stifling their sport, and Governor Rockefeller belatedly appointed a super authority (the State Racing and Wagering Board) to straighten out the mess. Now there are a dozen jobs (with salaries ranging from $33,000 to $65,000) at the top of the bureaucracy that oversees racing, and the man Rockefeller appointed to head the m�nage is Emil (Bus) Mosbacher, the America's Cup sailor whose racing experience has been at the helm of a yacht.
One of the groups involved, the New York Racing Association, fell all over itself to help create the $250,000 Marlboro Cup race for Secretariat, and in so doing undercut traditional events. Now Jack Krumpe, the NYRA's president, proposes that next year the Marlboro be made an international race to be run as the climax of the fall season. This would effectively destroy the Washington (D.C.) International at Laurel Race Course in Maryland ("There can't be two internationals within a few weeks of each other," explains Laurel's John Schapiro), which for more than 20 years has fostered international competition.
Schapiro hopes New York will do the right thing, but he should not be sanguine about his chances. New York racing is not noted for logical or altruistic behavior. It is worried about the challenge posed by Sonny Werblin, who wants to build a major racetrack at the new sports complex in northern New Jersey, close to New York City. One of the investment firms helping Werblin to arrange financing for the venture, which would drain both horses and revenue from New York, is Hornblower & Weeks-Hemphill, Noyes. A senior vice-president of Hornblower & Weeks is Joseph Gimma, who is also chairman of the New York State Racing Commission. The question of conflict of interest was raised but Gimma was cleared of such implication—by the State Racing and Wagering Board and Chairman Bus Mosbacher.
Round and round it goes, like Alice in Wonderland.
Critics of college football say that all too often football players are privileged characters on campus. The current situation at Southern Methodist supports the argument. Thirty-six students were moved out of one of the most desirable dormitories on campus so that members of the football team could have exclusive use of the building.
"We feel like we really got shafted," said one student. Another complained about the principle involved and objected to the school "moving freshmen football players in all of a sudden, after we were already in there."
Athletes were also given one of the two lines in a campus cafeteria, with the result that 600 students must use one line while 125 athletes use the other.