ONE LAW FOR ALL
Sports bills introduced in Congress are many. Sports bills passed by Congress are rare. This week Senator Philip A. Hart, Michigan Democrat who has taken over leadership of the Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly held for years by the late Senator Estes Kefauver, put up a sorely needed bill.
The bill would put all professional sports under federal antitrust laws but would make exceptions to bring football, basketball and hockey into the same legal league as baseball. The law would not apply to agreements and rules pertaining to the equalization of competitive player strengths; the employment, selection or eligibility of players; the reservation, selection or assignment of player contracts; or the right to operate in specific geographic areas.
Baseball has enjoyed freedom from antitrust regulation since a 1922 Supreme Court decision, but other professional sports have operated not so much outside the law as beside it. Hart wants to give to the other sports what baseball has had for decades—a clear conscience.
Hart's background in sport is extensive. He has been a director of the Detroit Lions and a vice-president of the Detroit Tigers. Let us hope he hits a home run with this one.
Last New Year's Rose Bowl game between Southern California and Wisconsin was seen by an estimated 53,338,000 persons—the most, according to the National Broadcasting Company, ever to witness a sports event up to that time. The game was clearly a television production. It was amusing, at first, when Referee Jimmy Cain orated to the captains about keeping the game clean—"Don't forget you're on television"—but it became annoying as "official time-outs" were ordered by TV's "man in the red shirt," standing on the sidelines to see to it that the sponsor was allowed plenty of commercials. It did seem that, in a game with 11 touchdowns and 18 genuine time-outs, there were plenty of opportunities for commercials. As it was, the game ran three hours and 10 minutes (in part because of TV time-outs but also because Ron VanderKelen's passes drove USC dizzy in the last quarter). NBC was forced to preempt time from a following program.
This year, praise be, there will be no such nonsense. Referee and players will have sole authority to call time-outs.
EXERCISE IN FUTILITY
It was a high school basketball opening game and only the players and coaches minded that play was ragged and shooting far from midseason form. After all, at half time the two Oregon schools, Redmond and Madras, gave every sign of presenting a close battle. The score at the half: Redmond 22, Madras 20.