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THE FLAW IN BASKETBALL
In the first half of their NCAA semifinal in Portland, Ore. last weekend, rough, eminently tough Michigan was awarded 17 foul shots to only four for Princeton, a team of vegetarians by comparison. Michigan had not enjoyed such a huge advantage from the foul line in 26 games this season. But in bringing this up we want to make it very clear that officiating is not our target. The point to be made is more basic: a flaw exists in basketball that changes the game, inhibits a team and cheats the fan who pays to sec the best in both teams.
When Princeton's Bill Bradley acquired his third foul in the first half of that taut semifinal, Michigan's victory was practically assured. When he got his fourth, early in the second half, Michigan's victory was assured. Because no matter how great a player is, the specter of being whistled out of play for a fifth personal foul restricts his talents, makes him cautious, sometimes so cautious that he commits foolishly the very foul he is trying to avoid.
We have made the point before (SI, Feb. 15). Basketball becomes a non-game when a star player, or any player, can be banished for his errors, especially when the error is snap-judged by an official in the heat of action. In both games that Princeton played with Michigan this year Bradley fouled out with about five minutes remaining. The examples stand out, because without Bradley the Princeton Tiger is a lamb, and even with him Princeton seldom could beat so powerful a team as Michigan. But the point remains that winning a game should never depend on the removal of the opponent's star player for reasons other than unsportsmanlike conduct.
College coaches meeting in Portland last week had a chance to discard the foul-out rule in favor of something more sensible—such as giving the offended team possession of the ball as well as a penalty shot (or shots) when an opposing player draws more than five fouls. They did not act. When they have the chance to reconsider next year, they might look at it this way: the strongest penalty that exists in any other sport is the hockey penalty box, and even that does not eliminate a player permanently or spoil the game.
DOWN WITH PUSH-UPS
The thing to do is to run four miles a day. Push-ups? An exercise in futility. Sit-ups? Chin-ups? Calisthenics? Mundane punishment, at best affording localized results. Run four miles a day, and you can eat anything you want without getting fat.
"When you run, you see, you exercise all over," says Dr. Bruno Balke, prescriber of and subscriber to the four-miles-a-day regimen. Dr. Balke is 58 years old, a professor of physiology and physical education at the University of Wisconsin, president of the American College of Sports Medicine and currently studying the environmental conditions of Mexico City for United States participants in the 1968 Olympics. Dr. Balke eats all he wants, and drinks and smokes sometimes, but contends it is infinitely more difficult to drink martinis or eat french fried potatoes while running. He says drinking martinis can be especially hard on the sedentary man because it leads to other excesses, such as eating peanuts. "The peanuts can be worse than the alcohol," he says. And what about golf? "I may be ready for golf when I'm 70 years old."
He was so honest he twice was asked to referee games his own teams played in. He considered money an abomination and never had much; once he refused a contract to play baseball for the New York Giants because there were saloons in the parks. At the University of Chicago he pioneered every aspect of modern football from the huddle to the T formation, and when he was 81 and coaching at College of the Pacific he was named Coach of the Year over Notre Dame's Frank Leahy. Words to describe him were teacher, patriarch, humanitarian, beloved citizen, inspiring disciplinarian, Christian and Yale man. Long after he had ceased to be Stagg's assistant, Fritz Crisler snuffed out a cigarette in the palm of his hand when he saw the old man coming.