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HITTING THAT LINE
In reaction to the Tulane point-shaving scandal, Atlantic Coast Conference athletic directors voted last week to ask newspapers to stop running point spreads on games involving ACC teams. That wasn't the first time college officials have moved against gambling. Some schools have barred representatives of tout sheets from their press boxes, and most college sports information directors take pains to ensure they don't inadvertently give information over the phone to gamblers posing as sportswriters.
Many newspapers think that point spreads meet the definition of news, and indeed, even non-gambling sports fans find them of interest. Still, the widespread publication of odds and tout ads is part of a climate that legitimizes gambling and helps it flourish. While the ACC's gesture is at least partly symbolic, any effort to put more distance between college athletics and gamblers is a worthwhile one. And the media would be serving the public interest if they gave the ACC's recommendation serious consideration.
THE REF FACTOR
More shots were directed at the refs than at the goalies during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs:
?After Quebec beat Buffalo 6-5 to eliminate the Sabres, Buffalo coach Scotty Bowman said, "I hold [referee] Bryan Lewis directly responsible" for the loss. With Buffalo protecting a 5-4 lead midway through the third period, the Nordiques' Wilf Paiement twice punched the Sabres' Ric Seiling in the face mask. Seiling never retaliated, yet Lewis penalized both players for two minutes. While they were off the ice, Quebec tied the score.
? St. Louis owner Harry Ornest, whose team was upset by Minnesota in three straight games, charged that the refs had allowed the North Stars to employ "goon" tactics. Ornest was incensed that Minnesota defense-man Dave Richter had received only a two-minute penalty for a high-sticking incident that put Bernie Federko, the Blues' top scorer, out of Game 3 with a concussion and facial cuts. "In no other sport do they reward the head-hunters as they do in hockey," Ornest said. "It's akin to allowing a wild pitcher...[to] plainly throw at the hitters."
?After winning the first game of its series with Montreal, Boston was leading the Canadiens 3-2 late in the second period of Game 2 when referee Ron Hoggarth called what appeared to be a phantom interference penalty against the Bruins. The Canadiens scored a power-play goal that sent them on to a 5-3 win, and they eventually knocked off the Bruins. "I'd like to take the officiating and rip it to complete shreds," Boston G.M. and coach Harry Sinden said. "We deserve a better quality of work in the NHL."
Sinden is right. Fact is, the NHL has maybe four first-rate refs, and for the opening round, it needed eight a night. The G.M. of one first-round winner said it best: "If I did my job as badly as the referees do theirs, I wouldn't have a job."
THE SOUND OF NO HANDS CLAPPING