THE SPRINGBOKS AND THE SOVIETS
The Reagan Administration's determination to allow the South African national rugby team, the Springboks, to begin a three-city U.S. tour this week as scheduled is ill-advised. Although the admission of individual South African athletes, like Gary Player and Johan Kriek, is a frequent and unobjectionable occurrence, the granting of visas to members of a national team is a different matter, because South Africa cynically seeks to use sports to legitimatize its abhorrent apartheid policies, just as the 1980 Moscow Olympics were used to showcase a Soviet regime that had just invaded Afghanistan. Having boycotted the '80 Games to protest that Soviet action, the U.S. should now be no less resolute toward a country, South Africa, over which it exercises far greater influence. It further happens that in regard to South Africa, ostracism is the official policy of most of the sporting world. As a result of Washington's stubborn show-must-go-on approach to the Springboks' tour, black African countries have threatened to boycott the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Jeopardizing an Olympics for the sake of three rugby matches is a questionable course.
Nevertheless, it's difficult to view with anything other than derision the news, as reported last week by
The Washington Post
, that if the Springboks' tour proceeds, the Soviet Union will urge at next week's International Olympic Committee Congress in Baden Baden, West Germany that the 1984 Games be moved out of the U.S. The Soviets may well regard such a campaign as a way to get even with the U.S. for boycotting the '80 Olympics, but the fact is that the U.S.'s welcoming of a South African national rugby team, wrongheaded though it may be, isn't nearly as reprehensible as the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. The L.A. Olympics shape up as a showcase for American entrepreneurship and possibly some other things, but not for apartheid. One can only hope that the IOC will turn a deaf ear to any Soviet entreaties to move the '84 Games.
THE REAL THING
As a public service to baseball fans, here are the real major league standings as of Sunday night, the ones you would have seen in your newspapers if the game's elders hadn't tried to hype interest following the strike by concocting split-season miniraces quasi-culminating in semi-playoffs. You'll note that if the season hadn't been split, roughly half of the 26 teams would still have been involved in some pretty fair conventional divisional races. It seems to us those races would have been more interesting than the ones in progress.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY
An elusive, five-pound, hatchery-reared coho salmon whimsically named John Beresford Tipton has anglers in the Pacific Northwest in a dither. Named by wags after the mysterious benefactor who gave Michael Anthony his assignment each week on the TV show The Millionaire, the specially tagged fish was released on Sept. 5 in Puget Sound as the prize in Schuck's Million Dollar Fish Derby, scheduled for the next day. Schuck's is an auto-supply company, and its derby was devised 1) to raise money for a local children's hospital, and 2) to draw approving attention to Schuck's. According to Schuck's, anybody who paid a $10 entry fee and was lucky enough to capture the tagged salmon between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the appointed day would receive $1 million. Schuck's paid a $30,000 premium for an insurance policy that would provide the $1 million, then pledged that net proceeds would go to the hospital. The salmon worth a million clams had a coded identification tag fastened to its dorsal fin and a microscopic I.D. tag implanted in its nose to make doubly sure that nothing fishy went on.
There's no question that the price of seafood is high, but $1 million seemed a lot for a few pounds of lox. Accordingly, on Derby Day boat launching ramps and parking lots on Puget Sound were jammed with would-be millionaires, and bait and tackle rental shops quickly sold out. There were 12,410 entrants and, together with the usual Sunday-morning anglers, they made up the biggest fishing fleet anybody could remember seeing on the sound. Some of the entrants fished close to shore on the theory that a pen-reared salmon would stay in shallow water. Others worked farther out in the belief (correct, as it happened) that derby officials had released the salmon in deep water. But when the 6 p.m. deadline arrived, John Beresford Tipton hadn't been caught. Several excited entrants briefly thought they had won because they had caught tagged salmon. Those sorry souls were doomed to disappointment; their fish had been tagged for other purposes by state fisheries.
A spokesman for the insurance company that underwrote Schuck's policy pronounced himself "relieved" that nobody had collected the million dollars, but the quest for the coveted salmon didn't end there. By last weekend the fish still hadn't been reeled in, and new rewards were posted by various parties. An unidentified attorney offered $1,000 to anybody who caught John Beresford Tipton, while a Seattle radio station, KAYO, and one of its advertisers pledged $2,000 plus $1,000 to the children's hospital. A Seattle FM station, KBLE, also got into the act; in celebration of the fact that its frequency is 93.0, it offered a bounty of $93 a pound. With others thus trying to horn in on its successful promotion, Schuck's hurriedly got back in the picture by offering a new, $10,000 reward for the fugitive fish, with a Nov. 1 deadline. It's possible, however, that nobody will collect the loot. As the fevered quest for John Beresford Tipton continued, there was growing speculation that the prize salmon may already have fallen prey to killer whales or seals.
Blame this one on Montreal Gazette Columnist Nick Auf der Maur: