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With the overwhelming passage of Proposition 13, which cuts California property taxes an average 57%, there is total confusion about funding for high school and junior college sports (state universities are unaffected because they are not funded through property taxes). It will take state officials at least a month to decide how much of an estimated $5 billion treasury surplus they will distribute to the cities, counties and school districts that now have the shorts.
William W. Russell, commissioner of the California Interscholastic Federation, which has 1,200 member schools, says, "Each district will decide whether it will have athletics, and how much. When that is accomplished the CIF will have to adjust its program to take care of whatever the program may be."
Unless the state helps out, the Long Beach Unified School District stands to lose 46% of its revenues, and a provisional budget approved last March, which assumed passage of Proposition 13, eliminates all high school athletic programs. The Los Angeles City Board of Education will lose 74% of its operating budget, $752 million; Bill Rivera, special assistant to the L.A. superintendent, says, "One of the things to be eliminated is not only the entire athletic program but all of the extracurricular activities. It's all one large package—athletics, journalism, speech, yearbook, band."
The Santa Ana School District in Orange County proposes to do away with junior high sports while trying to maintain varsity sports in the high schools. "This all hinges on having someone to play," says Bus McKnight, Coordinator of Athletics. "If we have no opponent, it's pretty hard to play a game."
Attention, NFL draft picks, particularly you guys from the lower rounds. You'll be getting a quick look this summer because there will be only four exhibition games as a result of the new 16-game season. "Now the rookies will get only two exhibition games to make the squad," says Coach Tom Landry of the Cowboys, a team that has stressed youth. Chuck Fairbanks of the Patriots puts it in a somewhat different perspective: "There will be more mistakes in evaluating personnel."
But not if Chuck Noll of the Steelers were to have his way. Noll recently held a contact workout with pads behind closed doors at Three Rivers Stadium so he could sneak a look at 29 rookies and 15 veterans. The workout was in direct violation of Article 20, Section 4 of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement with the players, which states that a team can have "no contact work or use of pads (except helmets) as part of an off-season training camp." John Clayton of The Pittsburgh Press reported on the workout in detail, prompting Steeler fans to condemn the paper for its lack of "patriotism," as one angry caller told The Press.
Noll, who tried to get the story killed, was furious. He intimated that Clayton was really a spy. "The thing that made it very bad was that the story was of no news value to the people of Pittsburgh," Noll said. "So I have to assume that [Clayton] is working for the competition. He certainly isn't working in the interest of the paper or the fans. The only way I can read it is espionage."