For Commissioner Pete Rozelle this has not been a good year. The recent ruling of Federal District Judge William T. Sweigert that the National Football League's player-reserve system violates antitrust laws is only the latest in a series of woes that have beset the league. These include rising costs, falling attendance, the players' strike, no-shows and, after Congress had acted to ensure the televising of home games, the ignominy of lower TV ratings.
But Rozelle is not the only one with problems—as anybody involved with the WFL could testify. As early as this month another federal judge may cause consternation in the ranks of all professional sports—and among owners and performers alike—if he rules in favor of an Internal Revenue Service attack on tax shelters. The NFL has indicated it will appeal Judge Sweigert's decision. No doubt, an adverse finding in the IRS case would be appealed, too.
In that one, the government is questioning the value of $183,000 put on each of 42 players the Atlanta Falcons selected in a draft when they came into the league in 1966. The IRS claims that management should not place any monetary value on personnel. If the major part of the cost of a franchise were its players, the team could amortize them over a period of time and pay no taxes while turning a profit, as the Falcons did. By depreciating nearly $1.5 million worth of players in each of their first two years, the owners reported losses of half a million plus while actually taking in several hundred thousand dollars more than they paid out.
This kind of bookkeeping has had much to do with the proliferation of pro teams in recent years. Should it be struck down, the ramifications would be far-reaching. Franchises could fold, only those with a reasonable prospect of making a profit would be started and all those newly created free agents would find that the easy money is no longer there.
Rozelle and others in pro sport may have disliked 1974. Depending upon what happens in court, they may care even less for 1975.
TOPPED BY THE TIMBERS
Patty Johnson, this country's best woman hurdler, has won again—well, almost. Last winter she protested that only four of the 32 events at Los Angeles' Sunkist Invitational indoor meet were for women. The 1975 meet has scheduled eight. Just one drawback. No women's hurdles.
AROMA WITH A VIEW
The weather has cooled sufficiently in most parts of the country to safely resuscitate a topic first raised—if that is not too indelicate a word—during the steamy days of Indian summer by the running physician, George Sheehan (SCORECARD, July 26, 1971, et seq.): namely, sweat. The doctor is for it, and none of your wishy-washy antiperspirants, deodorants or morning showers. The Saturday night bath is ablution enough.
Dr. Sheehan is talking about honest sweat, the kind worked up by distance runners and middle linebackers and puddlers in steel mills. It is an odorless dilute salt solution, the chemical composition of which has been duplicated in E.R.G., a drink used extensively by marathoners. To get rid of it, Dr. Sheehan recommends a daily change of clothes. After a sweaty workout on the roads he towels off, puts on his clothes and goes back to his patients, confident that they will never sniff out what he has been up to. Showers, he says, are time-consuming and can lead to a chill and complications.