Newspapers had fun with it, running deadpan headlines saying DANCER'S IMAGE WINS DERBY and letting the joke lie in the fact that the result came two years and seven months after the race had been run. But as Queen Victoria once said, we are not amused. The Kentucky Derby is—or was—one of those rare sporting events that transcends its sport, and to have it tarnished by an affair like this is sad and depressing. Most disheartening is the realization that the courts had to exercise a function that properly belongs within racing. One of the basic assumptions about any organized sport is that it is self-governing; rules, discipline, punishment come from within. If the sport is misgoverned, then the required correction should come from within. When a sport demonstrates that it is weak and uncertain of its course, as racing did, it leaves itself exposed. That the 1968 Kentucky Derby contretemps was so mishandled that a court of law had to settle the affair is a disgrace to thoroughbred racing.
Bowie Kuhn's stature, damaged earlier in the year by his handling of Denny McLain's two suspensions, was undermined further at the annual baseball meetings this month in Los Angeles. The Baseball Commissioner had made no secret of his desire to centralize authority as Pete Rozelle has with the National Football League. But Kuhn's efforts met with total failure. He could not get Joe Cronin, president of the American League, to move that league's office to New York from Boston. Cronin has lived in Boston for 35 years and was not about to budge. Kuhn could not get Chub Feeney, president of the National League, to consider bringing his operation East from San Francisco. Feeney, who just missed becoming Commissioner himself (before Kuhn won as a surprise candidate), has made it clear that he intends to keep his office as independent as he can make it. And Kuhn could not persuade Phil Piton, president of the National Association, to transfer the minor league office from Columbus, Ohio to New York. The 68-year-old Piton vociferously resisted the suggestion. The Commissioner could not even obtain an O.K. for his perfectly logical proposal to bring all major league umpires under one jurisdiction.
It is all too apparent that Kuhn is still a long way from running baseball a la Rozelle. In baseball the owners decide what will be done. They made this all too clear in Los Angeles when they effectively kept Bowie Kuhn in his place.
Now you can have Tom Dempsey's record-breaking 63-yard field goal in your own library. New Orleans' radio station WWL is sending a free 100-second tape of Broadcaster Al Wester's report of the moment to anyone whose order is accompanied by a $10 check or money order made out to a favorite charity. WWL passes the money on to the charity when it mails the tape to you.
The pro football dispute that was settled last August has not been settled, after all, and another strike in 1971 is a distinct possibility. The NFL Players' Association and the owners supposedly agreed on a four-year contract, but the contract has not yet been signed. The owners say the pact is supposed to include coaches, trainers and equipment men; the players say, no, that the contract is with players only and that bringing in coaches and the others would cost the association $230,000 a year. The owners won't budge, and the players' representatives won't sign.
Ken Bowman, Green Bay center who is a vice-president of the players' group, says, "I'm almost ashamed. Any union man will tell you that you don't put the workers back in the plant until it's all in black and white, with signatures from both sides. I'm fed up. I think John Mackey [ Baltimore tight end who is president of the players' association] is as irate as I am. If it isn't settled, we would withhold our services again."
DOWN TO THE SEA
An aluminum spike was driven into the wooden-ship-and-iron-men tradition the other day when Designer Olin Stephens said he expects to have an aluminum 12-meter yacht ready for the next America's Cup defense in 1973. "For all practical purposes," said Stephens, "aluminum Twelves are a foregone conclusion."