SEEING VS. BELIEVING
When the news became public earlier this year that Jimmy Connors was not really playing winner-take-all tennis against the likes of Nastase and Laver and Newcombe as CBS Sports had led us to believe, CBS hired two outside lawyers to investigate the affair and write a report.
Early last month the lawyers submitted their 61-page report to the FCC and to two congressional committees investigating television sports coverage. According to a story by Neil Amdur in last Sunday's New York Times, the FCC, after a month of deliberation, has decided it is not entirely satisfied with the CBS report and will open an investigation of its own. Citing " FCC sources," the Times said it had learned that the agency was concerned with "inconsistencies in the contents of the CBS report."
That was the news on page 1 of the sports section. Then, with the story continued on page 4, the Times quoted from the report as follows: "In light of the publicity that had surrounded the first three matches, when the financial terms for the Nastase match became known to CBS Sports, steps should promptly have been taken to see to it that persons with publicity and on-air responsibilities were provided with the correct information. Had this been done, the erroneous winner-take-all and other prize money statements would not have been made."
Maybe. And then again, maybe not. Our skepticism is based on the fact that as we finished reading the FCC story our eye jumped to an ad for CBS Sports on page 5.
Beside a picture of Connors the copy read, "1:30 pm—Live International Tennis Tournament from Mt. Washington. N.H. Can Jimmy Connors Defend His Title Against the Game's Best?" This is on Sunday, mind you. Connors was knocked out of the tournament by Harold Solomon in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Below the picture of Connors was another picture, of a grinning Lee Trevino. The accompanying text read, "4 pm—Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open—Live. Final Round Action as Lee Trevino. Ray Floyd and Other Top Pros Aim for the $42,000 First Prize!"
Well, Lee Trevino shot 66 on Thursday, the first day of the tournament, and was two shots off the pace. But after two more rounds he was tied for 29th and so far out of contention his scores were not even listed in that same Sunday Times sports section. As for Ray Floyd, he did not play at Hartford at all.
Once we had taken this in, we went back to the news story, to the part that quoted the CBS report as saying, "We have found no reason to believe that there was any intentional deception of the public by CBS personnel."
SIDE BY SIDE