In another rule change, one affecting all games, whether on TV or not, the committee directed that teams in the bonus situation during the last two minutes of regulation time and overtime be automatically awarded two free throws. That junks the current arrangement of one-and-one on ordinary fouls and two shots only on intentional fouls. The idea is to spare officials from having to make difficult distinctions between intentional and unintentional fouls. But another purpose is to discourage fouling, which might also speed things up.
In the case of TV games, SI's Kansas City correspondent, Ted O'Leary, provides evidence that speeding up is indeed necessary. O'Leary put the stopwatch to a number of TV games last season and found that it took 24 minutes to play the last 2:23 of Notre Dame-DePaul on Feb. 26, 12 minutes for the last 1:27 of Virginia-Boston College in the NCAAs on March 24 and 14 minutes for the last 1:56 of the Kentucky-Indiana NCAA game on the same day. Three other games produced similar results, and even the most exciting ones tended to turn into a drag at the end. College basketball statisticians reckon that, as a rule, it takes roughly 40 minutes to play a 20-minute half—or two minutes for every minute of action. The fact that, in the waning moments, this ratio soars to 10 to one or even more is a strong argument for the latest rules revisions.
THE BILLERICA MASSACRE
We'd be remiss in letting the hockey season melt away without speculating about what recent events in Billerica, Mass. imply about the rivalry between the two leading U.S. hotbeds of the sport, Minnesota and Massachusetts. For years Minnesota has been thought to have it all over Massachusetts in the production of hockey talent, an edge generally attributed to colder winters (which facilitate outdoor play), more rinks (ditto indoor play) and the stimulative effects of Minnesota's hotly contested high school tournament (SI, March 7). Further proof of Minnesota's supposed dominance was the fact that the triumphant 1980 U.S. Olympic team had a disproportionate number of players from that state and that in last year's NHL draft, 25 high school players from Minnesota were taken, compared with only seven from Massachusetts.
But Minnesota's presumed superiority has been cast in doubt by a three-game series in Billerica in which a high school all-star team from the state was wiped out by one from Massachusetts by scores of 14-3, 6-2 and 8-0. In defense of Minnesota hockey, it should be noted that the home team had practiced together four times, with the emphasis very much on teamwork, while the Minnesotans skated together just once, partly because their coach, Jim Knapp, viewed the series as "a showcase for our individual players and less as a team thing." Also, Minnesota high school athletic rules prohibited non-seniors and participants in spring sports from playing in the game. The Massachusetts team labored under no such restrictions.
But nobody's taking anything away from the Massachusetts boys. Minnesota North Star Assistant General Manager John Mariucci, honorary coach of the Minnesota squad, points out that Massachusetts has been closing the gap with Minnesota in many ways, and says, "A lack of facilities hurt New England, but now the region has the facilities, talent and the interest." Hartford Whaler scout Dave McNab attributes the greater popularity of Minnesota players in last year's NHL draft to what he feels was an exceptionally good crop from that state and a flukishly thin one from Massachusetts. McNab predicts that in next week's draft there might be as many players drafted from Massachusetts as from Minnesota. He concludes, "Anyone who's been doing his homework knew there were great players in Massachusetts."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights activist who's thinking about running for President, last week became the first black since Reconstruction to address a joint session of the Alabama Legislature. In his well-received speech, Jackson repeatedly employed one of his favorite rhetorical devices. On unemployment: "We have put too much focus on the schoolyard and lost sight of the shipyard." On the need for blacks to exercise more political power: "We can go from the outhouse to the statehouse, from the courthouse to the White House." Pleading for reconciliation between the races: "It is time that we leave the battleground behind us and seek a common ground, then move on to higher ground." Calling for greater trust in God: "He will raise us from the guttermost to the uttermost" and "from disgrace to amazing grace."
Jeff Heath, an associate professor of linguistics at Harvard, told SI that the type of verbal association used by Jackson might be called, for want of a better term, "a semirhymed parallelism." The reason we're interested is that Jackson, who played football at North Carolina A&T, also fills his speeches with a great many sports references. Thus, he tells young blacks that they and the late Dr. Martin Luther King began life "in the same starting blocks." He also likes to speak of the lessons he learned in sports, to wit, "that if the least of my blockers doesn't do the job, I can't make it," that "the game played on Sunday is won, lost or tied on Thursday" and that "when the star player is hurt, you don't forfeit, you count on the laws of compensation and move on." Jackson also has at least one sports-related semirhymed parallelism in his declamatory arsenal. Maintaining that sports is one of the few areas in which blacks have an opportunity to succeed and that they're often exploited even there, he says that over the past century, "We've gone from carrying cotton-balls to carrying footballs."
A TOUGH ONE FOR JUDGE AGLIANO