TIM & HIS TEAMMATES
This magazine will announce its Sportsman of the Year next week, but we can tell you in advance that the winner won't be any of the South Miami ( Fla.) High School football players who turned their wrath on a teammate the evening of Nov. 28. With only seconds remaining in a regional championship game against Columbus, South Miami leading 20-14 and in possession at the Columbus 47, Running Back Tim Anderson fumbled. A Columbus player recovered, ran for a touchdown, and South Miami lost, 21-20. Crushed by the stunning turnaround, angry teammates tried to prevent Anderson from getting on a bus that was taking the team from Tropical Stadium to South Miami High. He finally got aboard but later, in the school's locker room, teammates shoved and cursed him, threw football helmets at him and threatened him with a baseball bat. Coaches had to arrange for police to escort the beleaguered Anderson to safety.
As one might guess from all this, South Miami didn't have the most stable football program to begin with. The team is roughly 40% black and racial tensions surfaced this season after Head Coach Dave Mosure gave the job of defensive coordinator, which had been held by a black assistant coach, to another assistant, who, like Mosure, happened to be white. Black players walked out once during the season and threatened to do so on other occasions. Though Anderson and the teammates who abused him were all black, the emotions triggered by the bitter loss to Columbus quickly took on a racial edge when some black players, not content to taunt and menace Anderson, also derided several white assistant coaches as "honky crackers." And when Mosure tried to address his troubled team in the locker room, the players refused to listen, forcing him to abandon the effort.
Friends describe Mosure as a caring man who honestly tried to deal with the turmoil on the team. Others, however, suggest that Mosure placed too much emphasis on winning, his idea of motivating players being to run at a door and knock it off its hinges. Although he insisted the decision had nothing to do with recent events ("It's been on my mind a while"), Mosure quit last week as South Miami's coach, leaving it to others to try to straighten out the situation. As for Anderson, he may or may not find solace in the fact, now generally acknowledged, that he fumbled at least partly because South Miami's quarterback turned the wrong way and pitched out to Anderson when he was supposed to hand off. In other words, the fumble probably wasn't Anderson's fault.
NO WONDER THEY'RE WRECKS
Going into last week's regular-season finale, a 17-13 victory over Florida (page 68), Florida State could officially claim the toughest college football schedule, followed in order by those of Miami, Penn State and USC. This, anyway, was the word from the NCAA, which rates a schedule's difficulty on the basis of opponents' won-lost records. But with all due regard for the Seminoles, we believe Georgia Tech, which stood fifth in the NCAA ratings, had the toughest path to travel this season as it struggled to a 1-9-1 record. On Sept. 6 the Yellow Jackets opened the season with a 26-3 loss to defending national champion Alabama, which became the No. 1-ranked team for '80 a week later. On Nov. 8 Tech played to a 3-3 tie with Notre Dame, which by that time had supplanted 'Bama as the nation's top team. And two weeks ago Tech lost 38-20 to the current No. 1, Georgia. Besides having the distinction of playing three top-ranked teams in a single season, Tech can boast—or complain—that no fewer than seven of its 11 opponents are headed for bowl games.
What's the best pro sports town in North America? Bob McMahon, a Media, Pa. stockbroker who annually compiles data on the subject, polled 184 athletes to get this year's ratings and found that when it came to the "most enthusiastic" fans, Houston was tops in the NFL, Portland in the NBA, Philadelphia and New York in baseball (National and American Leagues, respectively) and Philadelphia (again) in the NHL. Since hometown enthusiasm often means hostility toward visiting teams, it's not surprising that some of the same cities also have the "unfriendliest fans." In this category, the athletes ranked Philadelphia No. 1 in both the NFL and the NHL, New York in both the National and the American Leagues and San Antonio in the NBA.
McMahon also asked the players which cities' fans were the most knowledgeable. The leading vote-getters were Pittsburgh in the NFL, New York in the NBA, Philadelphia and Boston in baseball and Montreal in the NHL. The favorite cities for food, entertainment and accommodations were Los Angeles in the NFL, New York in the NBA, San Diego and Boston in baseball and Montreal in the NHL.
So what's the best sports town of all, everything considered? Well, McMahon also examined won-lost records for the 1979 NFL season, the '79-'80 NBA and NHL seasons and baseball's 1980 season and found that Philadelphia's teams had an overall regular-season winning percentage of 67, followed by Boston's 62. Philadelphia was the runaway winner in postseason play, trailed in order by Los Angeles, Houston and Boston. On the other hand, computing attendance by how close crowds came to capacity (which he deems more meaningful than simply totaling the number of fans), McMahon rated Boston first (87%), followed by Green Bay- Milwaukee and Philadelphia (both 80%). If that makes Boston the best sports town, it leaves Cleveland the worst. Although the spaciousness of Municipal Stadium (baseball capacity 76,713, football 80, 385) and The Coliseum (19,548) may make such a statistic slightly misleading, the fact remains that Cleveland fans filled only 49% of the available seats at Brown, Indian and Cavalier games.