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Nonetheless, a certain Eastern-stoic approach to financing the game has kept it from getting too big for its britches, Lineberger told us. Ame-Rug is still mostly a rags-to-rags story. With the exception of an elite few, Japanese teams play on dirt fields. They buy their own shoes and helmets. Some buy their own jerseys. There are no paid coaches and no scholarships. There are no "football stadiums," per se. Until the Miami-No-tre Dame game, the Mirage Bowl itself had been played at Korakuen Stadium, home of the Tokyo Giants baseball team.
As "the most stupendous of Tokyo's sports pageants" (by the estimate of one Japanese correspondent), the Mirage Bowl represents the opposite extreme—a model of blatant commercialism. Enthusiasm for the event, whether freely given or on rental, is carefully "Tele-Planned" and doesn't necessarily require unanimous acceptance.
Not much chance of that, anyway, it would seem. On the day of the game, with the most famous name in American football as a principal, the advance story was buried at the bottom of page 10 of the English-language Tokyo Times, under the headline NOTRE DAME TEAM PAYS VISIT TO KAMAKURA. The story dwelled not on the impending struggle but on the Irish team's trip to the seat of the Minamota shogunate government. Its exhilarating stop at a Buddhist temple. Its exciting visit to a Shinto shrine.
All of this, of course, didn't explain what we had been led to believe is the Mirage Bowl's manifest destiny—to show the world how to bring football to its ultimate fulfillment as a first-rate shill. To find that out, says Michi, we must go to the source of the vision, the father of the Mirage Bowl, the "Sol Hurok of Ame-Rug," Michi's boss, the amazing Atsushi (Bulldozer) Fujita, president of Tele Planning International, Inc. We had already met Mr. Fujita.
We are sitting in the lobby of the Miyako Hotel, awaiting an audience with Bulldozer. The Miami and Notre Dame teams, their bands and official parties are all quartered at the Miyako, a departure from big-time college-football logistics that is the rough equivalent of putting Leonard and Duran in a double bed the night before a fight.
Nevertheless, despite rubbing biceps in the elevators and vying for the better seats in the lobby, the teams are getting along fine. It is the rival bands that report tensions. For a week they have crossed instruments at downtown parades and ball-park concerts, tooting and banging their way competitively through Tele Planning's demanding schedule, attracting large crowds and (apparently for the first time) experiencing autograph hunters. They get more attention than the football teams. They love it. The teams don't love it.
The Miyako is not what you would call centrally located. It is 45 miles by bus from the airport, and better than $20 by cab from downtown Tokyo and the various McDonald's and Shakey's Pizza parlors that comprise the nutritive backbone of most downtown areas of the world today.
To some observers, this isolation seemed to have been carefully "Tele-Planned" to avoid any costly spending sprees by the collegiate entourages and, not incidentally, keep them under watchful eyes. After all, the way to see how quickly a U.S. dollar can sprout wings is to convert it into yen. Michi insists, however, that the Miyako was chosen simply because it could hold all the people from the two schools.
Nevertheless, the Miyako has taken certain precautions. Anything charged—phone calls, lunch, in-room massages—must be paid at the desk the same day or risk the charger a visit from the management. On display in each room is a small sign to remind occupants where they are. Verbatim, the sign reads: "In case of your [long-distance] call was not as Collect Call, please pay the charge to our Front Office Casher when finished your call, not await until your deperture. The Management, Miyako Hotel, Tokyo."
Dave Highmark, who was Miami's business manager, and Jim White, its director of sports promotion at the time, know about having audiences with Fujita. They have had their share. They are in the lobby, watching from a respectful distance as Fujita holds court in a step-down lounge area near the front door. Individual petitioners and gift recipients are being brought to him one and two at a time by his aides, who flutter around him like hummingbirds. He has been giving going-away presents (expensive Nikon cameras he brushes off" as "toys") to Miami and Notre Dame functionaries.