Perhaps you noticed Pat McSorley, a peewee soccer player from Virginia Beach, Va., when SI's FACES IN THE CROWD cited him two years ago for his Chinaglian goal-scoring ability. A New York ad agency did, and this year decided he was just the kid to cast in a TV commercial for Tropicana orange juice. Pat, 9, would be shown deftly controlling a soccer ball and then, upon identifying himself, would join Bruce Jenner in a pitch for the OJ. Pat's mother, Jeanne, made plans to accompany him to Los Angeles for the late-summer shoot; his father, Bill, a naval officer, is on a seven-month cruise.
Then came the days without sunshine. Anthony Shor, a vice-president with MCA, Tropicana's ad agency, phoned Mrs. McSorley on Aug. 16 to offer an increase in the standard talent rate ($300 a day plus residuals) he'd promised Pat, because, as Jeanne quotes Shor, "there'd be a risk to his amateur status involved." He also said he'd do anything he could to satisfy the NCAA.
Curious, Jeanne phoned the NCAA, which confirmed her fears that Pat wouldn't be able to play college soccer if he were paid for appearing in the ad. According to the NCAA's John Leavens, you forfeit amateur standing in a sport the moment you display the skills of that sport for compensation. It didn't matter that Pat was nine. "It's a cradle-to-grave situation," Leavens says. Pat could pass up the money and his status would go unaffected, provided the ad was no longer running when he entered college. But the plane ticket to L.A. alone would constitute payment.
So Pat didn't go. "He helped decide it wasn't worth the risk," says Jeanne. "He was less disappointed than I thought he would be." In fact, last Sunday he was busy scoring two goals, including one with :05 left that gave Virginia Beach's select youth team a 3-3 tie with Hampton.
Mrs. McSorley feels the NCAA is lax about publicizing its rules, rules that have no provisions to redress damage to a youngster's amateur status done by greedy moms and dads who might have exploited their athletically talented offspring. Better still, why doesn't the NCAA, which has enough trouble regulating its member institutions, simply give up jurisdiction and leave elementary school student-athletes to the lunchtime monitors—and their parents? Given the current rules, Pat is lucky that his mother acted so responsibly.
Still smarting from its 25-20 loss to Cal last fall on The (Five-Lateral) Play in The Big Game, the Stanford athletic department placed an order with Pacific Telephone for the toll-free number 800-BEATCAL. But the Cardinal didn't count on the order being taken by a Cal alum, who promptly called the folks in Berkeley, who just as promptly ordered a number of their own: 800-GOBEARS.
HOW'RE THEY SPITIN'?
The movement to save the imperiled striped bass (SCORECARD, Aug. 22) received a perverse boost on Sept. 6 when Rhode Island's Marine Fisheries Council banned the taking or possession of the fish in that state for one year. There has been pressure on the East Coast to raise the legal size limit from 16 inches to 24 to protect the striper, whose numbers have dwindled perilously in its Chesapeake Bay spawning grounds and along migratory routes. But the Rhode Island council, which is dominated by the interests of commercial trap-net fishermen afraid that so drastic an increase would threaten their livelihood, had resisted any change, though Massachusetts and Connecticut had raised their minimums. The council finally acted, but only after Rhode Island's conflict-of-interest commission had admonished two of the trap-net representatives to keep their vote from smelling fishy. Faced with that warning—and the alternative of giving up the right to catch and sell the lucrative smaller fish—the council voted 4-3 to keep anyone from catching any bass.
Reaction was swift and strident. The Boston Globe, in an editorial entitled "Captains Outrageous," likened the trap-net reps to "petulant children who flounce off with the marbles when the game isn't going their way." The Providence Journal feared for the Ocean State's reputation as a sport-fishing paradise. Meanwhile, Rhode Island Governor J. Joseph Garrahy, concerned with the measure, has called for the council to reconvene and reconsider its decision before Jan. 1, when the ban is to take effect. But even if the order is rescinded, the council's rash action has already polarized recreational fishermen against their commercial brethren and trivialized what should be serious concern for balancing the interests of sport, the striper and the industry.