SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
May 03, 1982
SMITTY'S LEAGUEbr />E.M. Swift's story on New York Islander Goaltender Billy Smith (page 70) makes it clear that Smith owes his success both to his talent for stopping the puck and his ability to take care of himself in a league encumbered by an every-man-for-him-self ethos. In reading about Smith's use of butt-ending tactics, his participation in stick-swinging duels and the repeated instances of flagrant interference and slashing by rival skaters, one yearns for any inkling that there are referees on the ice or executives at NHL headquarters who will ensure that such transgressions are punished. Under such near-anarchic circumstances, Smith is able to refer to hockey as "a game of intimidation" without having to distinguish between legitimate intimidation—e.g., hard, clean body checking—and intimidation that is tantamount to mayhem. If Smith and others don't always play by the rules, the blame falls in no small part on NHL higher-ups who, to their shame, persist in refusing to enforce them.
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May 03, 1982


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Some Boston insiders complained that Medoff had been hired without being properly screened—an allegation denied by BAA President Will Cloney—and that he had received an exorbitant piece of the action; The Boston Globe reports that he could make as much as $1 million from next year's proceeds. But there was also general acknowledgment that some commercialization was inevitable. As Medoff, who declines to discuss details of his deal with the BAA, puts it, "It's time for this race to enter the 20th century." Indeed, the simon-pure amateurism exemplified by the Boston race is an anachronism, and the leading participants are mostly full-time runners who deserve to be openly compensated. A financial transfusion might also allow the marathon to undergo a needed organizational overhaul. The BAA still gets by without either an office or full-time staff, and its volunteer organizers sometimes seem overwhelmed. It may have been symptomatic that crowd control at this year's race was practically nonexistent. Fans were allowed to press too close to the runners, some of whom also were hip-checked by motorcycles and all but asphyxiated by exhaust from vehicles.

At the same time, pains should be taken to preserve those ingredients of the Boston race that distinguish it from upstart marathons in, say, New York and London. Trouble is, everybody has a different idea as to which features—the Patriots' Day spot on the calendar, the Hopkinton start, etc.—should be considered immutable. As they set about to alter the chemistry of their very special event, it is obviously imperative that Boston's organizers proceed with the utmost care.

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