THE CHIMES OF FREEDOM
As expected, the Supreme Court ruling last June that ended NCAA control of college football telecasts has led to confusion and oversaturation, along with lower ratings and, with few exceptions, lower revenues. But Dr. William Banowsky, president of the University of Oklahoma, co-plaintiff with the University of Georgia in the suit that upset the NCAA applecart, says, "I have no regrets."
Banowsky concedes that the ruling has meant tougher times for many schools, but, he says, "Freedom is always ragged. It's always more challenging than an absolutely controlled state. I can understand the nostalgia of those who yearn for a return to the closed market under the NCAA, but that's regrettable because the old system was blatantly illegal."
The dire early effects of the ruling will ease eventually, according to Banowsky. "There's been confusion in 1984, but that won't be the case in years to come. The unfortunate thing was the separation of football schools into two groups [the 63-member College Football Association and the union of the 20 Pac-10 and Big Ten schools]. The only winners in that competiton were the networks. In essence, they divided and conquered. But over time the free market will provide a more vital environment for football."
Banowsky claims the Sooners' television revenues for '84 will top last year's $1.2 million. The school has even hired the William Morris Agency, handler of show-biz personalities and other celebrities, to conduct its TV negotiations. "We're in the TV business now," says Banowsky. "When we get to the table with the network pros, we'll need the toughest and most experienced professionals in the country representing us."
A REGRETTABLE CHOICE
It's possible that there have been worse cheers in the history of American sport, but until we hear one, the booby prize goes to a chant used this year by the North Carolina women's soccer team. The Lady Tar Heels capped a 24-0-1 season by winning the NCAA championship on Nov. 18, but that marvelous victory was tarnished by the bizarre rallying cry, "Napalm! Napalm! Napalm!" repeated frequently by North Carolina players and fans during the tournament final in Chapel Hill.
Tar Heel sophomore striker April Heinrichs was responsible for the chant. Two weeks earlier she had seen Apocalypse Now! Francis Ford Coppola's film about the Vietnam war. She was especially enamored of a line delivered by Robert Duvall, who plays a megalomaniacal officer. Looking across a river at a burning village, Duvall smiles grimly and says, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." A banner echoing that sentiment appeared at Fetzer Field during the NCAA title game.
"We're as intense as a bomb," said Heinrichs. "We're gonna crush our opponents. We're gonna intimidate them until they want to leave the field. That's our bomb. And after we win, that's the smell of napalm."
"The players are just attempting to say they're intensely trying to win soccer games," said North Carolina athletic director John Swofford. "I'd prefer they express that in a little healthier way, but I don't think there's any negative intent."