SI Vault
Edited by Andrew Crichton
December 09, 1974
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December 09, 1974


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Hockey essentially is a gate-receipts sport, and in both the NHL and the World Hockey Association crowds are down or, in the cases of new franchises, have not developed as expected. In Montreal, where Forum season subscribers once willed their seats, the Canadiens have been advertising. Toronto and Boston, which for years sold out, are not filling up. Washington and Kansas City, with huge investments and new arenas, are averaging 8,238 and 8,405, far below capacity and not enough to keep them healthy financially. Chicago and Michigan in the WHA are worse off, averaging barely 3,000 each.

The NFL has denied that it will cut team rosters next season from 47 to 36 players, but already both hockey leagues have drastically reduced the number of players that they own directly. In past years it was not uncommon for a team to list 20 or so on the major league roster and spot another 30 or 40 on minor league teams. Now most list the varsity and only a dozen or so prospects.

The Canadians feel that the leagues increasingly represent U.S. money men who, in their eyes, cannot tell the difference between a hockey stick and a share of Avon. If and when they do break away, the Canadian league probably would look something like this: Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Blazers, Quebec Nordiques, Calgary Somethings, Toronto Toros and possibly teams from Ottawa and the Maritimes. The winner among these conceivably would meet the best of the U.S. teams in the Stanley Cup.

Several times this season, because of fan furor, National Football League games have been delayed for almost as long as it used to take to play a quarter—22 minutes in New Orleans one week. Not once has an official penalized the home team, which is not surprising since there is no rule calling for such a penalty. If you remember one, you are right, but it was rescinded when the league decided it was unfair to the home team. The strategy is for the home bench to raise arms and plead while the rival quarterback waits patiently for a hole in the wall of noise to open up. He can hold out three days if he has to, a league official said. TV would love that, football's equivalent to a delayed baseball game with all those exciting shots of raindrops pelting the tarpaulin.


At adjacent Harvard Stadium the varsity football teams were scheduled to settle the small matter of an Ivy League title a few hours hence. But on an obscure touch football field a larger battle raged between the political science departments. It was, after all, a contest of philosophies as well as wills. Would the Harvard Theorists, weak on behavior but strong on vision, beat the Yale Empiricists?

"We will win," said a Yale behaviorist, "because Harvard refuses to let its graduate students play. It's a typical example of statist thinking." All that the department chairmen, James Q. Wilson of Harvard and Yale's Joseph LaPalombara, had agreed to, however, was that there be at least three professors playing continually for each team.

The game began less on a note of aggression than containment. Yale owed an 8-6 lead to a safety, which many of the scholarly spectators mistook for a touchback. Indeed, the only record being set was for largest number of players wearing glasses. Early in the second half Harvard scored a go-ahead touchdown following a controversial interference penalty that set up a first down on the Yale two-yard line. Yale Captain Douglas Rae protested. "It's easy to confuse your legitimate belief in fairness with your own self-interest," scoffed a Harvard player. "You must be consonant."

Yale rallied to win 14-12 on an empirical plunge by Joe Morone. Not that any of the issues were settled. Some Yale players admitted Morone might have gone out of bounds before scoring. LaPalombara insisted, "It's a victory for people who know how to handle the real world." Wilson, sidelined when he injured his knee stepping where a dog had paused, was unmoved. "We'll be at Yale next year," he said, "if we have to pay our way down there with a slush fund."

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