You didn't think we would overlook pro basketball's labor news, did you? The situation is normal. "Negotiations have broken down," Coach Tom Heinsohn of the Boston Celtics said not long ago, "and there is no move to reopen talks. Very little has been said about a strike, but we may well have one."
What else is new?
AND BEYOND THE BLUE LINE
Labor disputes in hockey are somewhat different. They usually involve one laborer, a defenseman, say, belting another laborer, perhaps a winger, in the chops. Fighting on the ice has always been a part of hockey, but during the last few years, particularly with the spectacular success of the brawling, aggressive Philadelphia Flyers, it has gotten out of hand. After last season, you will recall, Dave Forbes of the Boston Bruins stood trial in Minneapolis for assaulting Henry Boucha of the Minnesota North Stars and he came to within a few votes on a hung jury of being convicted.
Now NHL President Clarence Campbell has lowered the boom. Last week he levied fines totaling $9,050 against players on four teams for brawling in exhibition games. In exhibition games, please note. And Campbell said further disciplinary action might be taken.
Why the sudden concern? Part of it certainly has to do with fear of more players being prosecuted, since hockey cannot afford to be hauled repeatedly into court on criminal charges. But there is probably another factor.
For a long while the NHL has given tacit approval to the mauling that so frequently stops action and leaves the ice littered with gloves, sticks, players and boredom. Presumably, the league, excited by the presence of television, decided that lots of fights would not be so bad—they would attract lots of TV viewers. But it did not work out that way. Indeed, NBC-TV has dropped its national coverage of the sport.
Perhaps what has happened is that hockey leaders have recognized at long last that the fierce, rough skill of their game is what appeals to the true sports fan, not unrestrained brutality.
Tennis balls began to change color about 20 years ago when a serious attempt was made to introduce yellow as a supplement to, if not a substitute for, white. "But we didn't have the correct brightness," says John J. Wall, an executive of Albany International Corp., the world's largest manufacturer of the felt that is used on tennis balls, "and the idea died after six months."