NOT SO CANDID CAMERA
What you see is what you get. Or so it used to be before promoters and television networks began making a mockery of sport to obtain higher ratings. Hard on the heels of the boxing scandal (SI, May 2) come two more incidents of nobbling an event, lying to the public and trying to remake sport in the image of entertainment.
A recent story by John Kennedy in the Staten Island Register reported that the $250,000 winner-take-all tennis match between Jimmy Connors and Manuel Orantes on Feb. 28, 1976 was, in effect, a sham. In the Caesars Palace match televised by CBS, Kennedy reported, Connors had been guaranteed $500,000, win or lose, in an agreement signed by the promoter, Bill Riordan. Orantes would have gotten $250,000 for winning; he got $250,000 for losing.
A front-page story by Neil Amdur in The New York Times last week revealed that a similar $250,000 winner-take-all match between Connors and Ilie Nastase, played March 5, also was a con. Connors again was guaranteed $500,000, win or lose, said the Times, and Nastase $150,000. The promoter again was Riordan, who, when asked why millions of television viewers were not told the truth about the CBS telecast, said, "I would definitely accept the blame for that."
CBS, however, is equally to blame for advertising the matches as winner-take-all, as are the players, who knew the billing was fraudulent.
What is sport is usually entertaining. What is entertaining, however, is not always sport. Until the people who promote these events understand the difference, don't believe everything you see.
SWEET TASTE OF SUCCESS
Long before Reggie Jackson decided to join the Yankees, he boasted, "If I played in New York, they'd name a candy bar after me."
Jackson knew whereof he spoke. Standard Brands, which makes Baby Ruth, among a variety of other foodstuffs, last week unveiled a new candy bar. It's called Reggie, Reggie, Reggie.
Sales may lag in Baltimore, where they probably will call it Boo, Boo, Boo.