- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Thirty years ago that craftiest of boxing promoters, Mike Jacobs, prophesied that the future of the sport would be in bouts staged in TV studios. "I thought the idea was laughable then," says Sam Silverman, one of the last of the old-guard promoters. "Not now."
The cause for Silverman's change of heart was the audience reception in the Boston area to two studio fight programs he staged for WNAC-TV. The first, in April, was a mixed weight double bill and had an Arbitron rating of 36%. The second, which he put on last week, pitted Sugar Ray Seales, the only U.S. boxing gold medalist at the Munich Olympics in '72, against Marvin Hagler, the New England welterweight champion. The bout captured 25% of the television audience.
The idea for the fights originated with Eddie Andelman of the innovative and sometimes outrageous radio show, Sports Huddle (SI, Sept. 4, 1972). Channel 7 General Manager Jim Coppersmith reluctantly went along the first time, but after the good rating did not have to be talked into a second go. Seales had won 17 of his 21 fights by knockouts. Hagler had won 17 straight, 15 by KOs. A capacity crowd of 225, paying an average $15 a ticket, arrived at the high-ceilinged, subbasement of the WNAC studio and howled itself hoarse as the clever Seales mistakenly chose to slug it out with the muscular Hagler. He wound up with a bloodied nose and the bad end of the decision.
The real winner was WNAC-TV. "I've had calls from stations all over the country, and they all want to know how you put on a show like ours," Coppersmith said. Two fights do not a trend make, but they do seem to indicate that there is something out there besides Za�re.
EVERYBODY'S DOING IT
The pros are not the only football players who have had strike on their minds lately. According to Charlie Schuhmann, a UCLA running back who has talked with players at other schools, "Within five years there will be some form of protest among college football players unless we get more money to live on." That, or a lot more money under the table.
The problem, Schuhmann says, is to live on $131 a month, the maximum allowed by the Pacific Eight Conference. "It's not so bad during the regular football season when we have a training table. But there is no training table during spring drills. I've seen players come to practice who are eating only one meal a day—a 29� McDonald's hamburger and a Coke—because that's all the food they can afford."
Schuhmann's coach, Dick Vermeil, and Athletic Director J. D. Morgan agree something should be done. Morgan suggests raising NCAA limits on scholarship benefits. "With today's inflated dollars, I don't think they're realistic," he says. Says Schuhmann, "I think we are going to have to have some kind of study. I'm not saying I've ever seen under-the-table money, but I am sure it exists and will continue to grow as the money problems continue."