An exchange overheard between two Manhattan media types on the subject of NBC-TV's plan to provide live nonstop coverage of the Breeders' Cup, a horse-racing extravaganza on Nov. 10 at Hollywood Park, in which $10 million in purses will be distributed over seven races:
"That'll only be about 14 minutes of actual racing. How can those guys possibly fill four hours of air time?"
"Easy. Super Duper Slo Mo."
It was Parents' Day at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and the Tiger football team was leading visiting Albion College 7-6 early in the fourth quarter. Despite the closeness of the score, some of the DePauw parents apparently were so confident that the home team would win—which, by the way, it did, 21-6—that they got up to leave. Taking offense, student announcer Dan Stevens asked the departing parents over the P.A., "Hey, where are you going? Wait a minute!" As the exodus continued, he added, "And you wonder why we bag classes!"
EXERCISES IN PROFLIGACY
Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire recently gave his Golden Fleece of the Month Award to the Defense Department for spending at least $100,000 in public funds, and maybe considerably more, to fly cadets and midshipmen to California for last year's Army-Navy football game. In announcing the award, which recognizes the "most wasteful, ridiculous or ironic use of the taxpayers' money," Proxmire noted that the decision to switch the 1983 game from Philadelphia to the Rose Bowl had been accompanied by promises that the cadets and midshipmen would be "moved, housed and fed at no cost to the government." But foul weather and other factors cut into attendance at the game and related fund-raising events, resulting in a $2.5 million deficit for the non-profit Pasadena civic organization that promoted the game. The Defense Department will probably have to absorb some of that debt. As for the service academies, each took in some $700,000 less than it had from Philadelphia in 1982.
In his press release on the award, however, Proxmire was guilty of some profligacy of his own in the overuse of that old favorite of politicians: the sports metaphor. Complaining that costs associated with the game "broke away and ran," Proxmire described the '83 Army-Navy game as a "financial fumble" and said that the service academies had "got their bell rung" and had been "sacked for this big loss." He also said, "As soon as I tackled this issue, it became clear that the Army and the Navy should be penalized for clipping the taxpayers. In addition to watching a handoff, they ended up paying for a handout."
After chewing awhile on all this—and being gluttons for punishment—we asked Proxmire if he had any other comments to make on the situation. The man's playbook runneth over. Last year's game, he replied, "has become the financial equivalent of a flea-flicker play which ends up in an interception."