THE WEEK AT THE FIGHTS
Other NHL (National Hitting League) business: During a 5-5 overtime game in Detroit on Thursday, the North Stars and Red Wings engaged in a bench-clearing brawl. The participants included an injured Detroit player who wasn't suited up for the game and both rival coaches, Minnesota's Glen Sonmor and Detroit's Nick Polano, who tussled with each other before former Detroit Lion coach Monte Clark came out of the stands to help restore order. (Can you imagine Don Shula and Tom Landry going at each other during a game?) A melee also occurred during the Rangers' 9-3 win over the Isles Sunday night, resulting in both starting goaltenders and four other players being ejected. That brawl featured a sucker punch and stick to the head, both skillfully administered by Clark Gillies of the Islanders.
And what does NHL president John Ziegler say about such goings-on? Ziegler, who condones fighting in the NHL as a spontaneous outlet for frustration when it's really an instrument of calculated intimidation, had this to say earlier this month: "The facts don't bear out all the dialogue going on about violence [in the league]. I myself don't see any need for a dramatic change."
SI senior writer Frank Deford reflects on the Pulitzer Prizes: "It's a widely held misconception that except for three awards to writers for The New York Times—Arthur Daley (1956), Red Smith (1976) and Dave Anderson (1981)—no one in sports journalism has ever won a Pulitzer. Actually, two earlier sportswriters also won Pulitzers: The New York Herald Tribune's William H. Taylor, in 1935, for his yachting coverage, and The New York Journal-American's Max Kase, in 1952, for his exposures of basketball corruption. But it's true enough that no sports-writer outside of New York City has been so honored. And none except for the three Timesmen has won a Pulitzer in more than three decades.
"What makes that last fact curious is that the Times sports section is one of the weaker parts of that august publication. No matter. Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times, long recognized by his peers as the best sports columnist in the U.S., has never won a Pulitzer. Neither has Dave Kindred, a sports columnist for The Atlanta Constitution who writes with as much grace and wit as any other newspaperman in the land. When Dick Young was covering baseball for the New York Daily News, there was no more adroit reporter around, but the Pulitzers tend to recognize reporting only when the subject is housing scandals or soybean graft. Skilled sports reporters such as Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post and Will McDonough of The Boston Globe—which may have the best sports section in the country—have been similarly overlooked.
"But now one can hope that more sports scribes will get their due. This year's Pulitzers, which will be awarded in April, will include a new category recognizing excellence in 'reporting on such specialized subjects as sports, business, science, education and religion.' Of course, a category just for sportswriters would be even better; editorial cartoonists—of whom there are only a handful, compared to thousands of sportswriters—have long had their own category. But at least in theory, awards to sportswriters will no longer be effectively limited to 'commentary,' the category in which Smith and Anderson, the last two sports-page winners, were honored.
"It's easy to see why sportswriters have been slighted in the awarding of Pulitzers—and why, even with the new catchall category, they may continue to be. Last month the names of the 65 jurors and 18 board members who will pick this year's winners were announced, and publishers, editors, vice-presidents, correspondents, columnists and photographers were included. As usual, no one from the sports pages was on the list."