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THE FARM SYSTEM SPEAKS
The College Football Association, which represents 66 NCAA Division I-A schools, issued an ultimatum last week to the NFL. Unhappy with the league's creeping encroachment on both the class time and eligibility of college hotshots, the CFA threatened to deny the pros access to game films and practices unless it complies with two demands: 1) That NFL minicamps, now held in May, be rescheduled to after the school year, and 2) that underclassmen who are now permitted to leave college early to join the NFL be allowed to continue their educations at the league's expense, either through no-cut contracts for those drafted or through financial assistance for those signed as free agents.
The demands are reasonable ones and should be adopted by the NFL. Unquestionably, the profusion of time-consuming minicamps has become a burden, encouraging many college players to drop out of school in the spring of their senior year. New Orleans Saints general manager Jim Finks, the league's unofficial liaison with the college ranks, acknowledged as much, saying, "I think we are a classic case of overkill in scouting."
But the CFA's lofty position is undercut by the fact that the big football colleges don't always put academics first themselves. Though athletic officials purport to be distressed that underclassmen are forgoing their educations, they seem at least equally concerned that they're losing some prime football beef prematurely. CFA executive director Chuck Neinas may have been more revealing than he intended when he said, "We cooperate with the NFL. We want something more than lip service.... The pros better start paying attention to their farm system."
SINK YOUR SHOTS
Thanks to a company in the British Virgin Islands called Toronto Consolidated Ltd., you can now not only own a piece of history but also chip out of a bunker with it. The firm has melted down a propeller salvaged from the wreck of the British liner Lusitania, which was sunk by a German submarine in 1915, and forged 3,500 sets of golf clubs from it. "The Lusitania, known affectionately as Lucy, would be proud to see her damaged propeller transformed into a stunning set of clubs," declares one ad.
At $9,000 per set, the clubs have to be one of the most expensive and least appropriate "memorials" to come along in a while. Keep in mind that 1,198 passengers and crew went down with the Lusitania, whose sinking hastened the U.S. entry into World War I. But Toronto Consolidated looks upon its clubs with pride. Says the company's managing director, Alan Koenig, "We looked into a couple of other things—fireguards for fireplaces with a relief of the Lusitania on them, and miniature boats—but golf clubs have a universal appeal. We could have made tacky souvenirs, I guess."
LABOR OF LOVE LOST
Six batboys for the Double A Huntsville ( Ala.) Stars have run afoul of child labor laws governing youngsters less than 16 years old. The batboys, who are 14 and 15, must now quit working before 9 p.m. in accordance with an Alabama statute. State officials had chosen not to enforce the law in the past but had no recourse after a parent whose son was not picked as a batboy filed a complaint with the Department of Industrial Relations.
"Our choices were to fire them or let them work until nine, and we're not going to fire them," says Stars general manager David Demonbreun. After the witching hour he replaces the batboys with clubhouse attendants. (Night games usually end by 10.) The batboys work an average of six hours on game days and are paid $12 a game.