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March 20, 1977 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-03-20
Note:
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ge Eight THE MICHIGAN DAILY SUNDAY MAGAZINE

March 20, 1977

Big business

/

(Continued frotn Page 3)
hts. This year's free agent
persal draft proved the argu-.
nt entirely false as players
mwded in on such exciting
ies as Cleveland, Milwaukee,.
aheim and San Diego.
rhe owners, who feared most
soaring cost of ball players
der the free agent system,
nt wild. S a v a g e l y pitting
mselves against one another,
;y drove the values of athletes
y up. Joe Rudi, Gene Ten-
e, Bert Campeneris, Rollie
igers, and Don Baylor, de-
ted the Oakland Athletics
I their tyrannical employer,
arles Finley, and were gob-
d up by other clubs for a total
n of eight million dollars.
ggie Jackson alone, signed
three million. Catfish Hunter
nt for four million. Popular
iyer negotiating agent, Jerry
pstein, corraled 1.6 million in
ee weeks of contract negotia-
11.
)wners claim they are being
:ven out of business. Players
r they are just beginning to
what they deserve. Relations
generally bad at best, and
ye extended themselves to

owner -league official run - ins.
The most prominent collision
recently was between Finley
and B a s e b a l1 Commissioner
Bowie Kuhn.
In the past year Kuhn has
voided the sale of four of Fin-
ley's players, who were to have
netted him a sum of three mil-
lion dollars. Finley had wanted
to sell the players before their
contracts ran out and they be-
came "free agents" under the
new application of the anti-trust
laws. Had he succeeded, he
would have turned a big profit
on ;stars who, as free agents,
would have been able to "sell".
themselves and pocket the cash.
Kuhn, however, moved in,
terming the sales "inconsistent
with the best interests of base-
ball." Finley's response to that
was, "I only regret that I didn't
sell more of them. I hope to
wake the stupid owners up to
the fact of reality."-(referring
to the fact that the players, ra-
ther than the owners, will be
making the money, as free
agents.)
The case now rests in a Chi-
cago Federal Court. The ques-
tion at hand: Is baseball a capi-

talist enterprise like any other
American business, where one
can sell to the highest bidder no
matter what the price? Or is it
something specTal and quite
different to the citizens of this
country. Could one imagine Pre-
sident Carter voiding a U.S.
Steel transaction - "Sorry fel-
lows, not in the best interests
of the country . ."
Sports Merchandising
p ASEBALL, FOOTBALL, bas-
ketball - the games that
used to be little boys' dreams
are now played in the Astro-
dome - Superdome - Kingdome,
indoors on synthetic turf with
bikinied bell girls. The admin-
istering of drugs is common
practice, allowing incapacitated
athletes to perform. Many play-
ers have complained that they
have been force-fed pills under
threat of trade or dismissal. In
fact, players are so frequently
traded ("merchandised" might
be the proper term) ' that one
can hardly recognize teams
from one year to another. The
state of affairs has gotten so out
of hand that recently Red Auer-
bach, general manager of the
Boston Celtics, has called for
a Secretary of Sports: "The
courts have taken over all sports
and somewhere along the line
something has got to give. I
think it is time for our govern-
ment to appreciate that sports
are unique in this country."
Are sports unique in the Uni-
ted States? Obviously the em-
-phasis on sports in many coun-
tries has changed, a syndrome
most dramatically reflected in
the Olympics, which, of late,
have become an international
political battleground. But cer-
tainly no other nation on this
earth fills its newspapers and
television stations with such a
barrage of athletic competition,
involving such incredible sums
Down town.

of cash. Just last month, the
National Broadcasting Company
(NBC) purchased the air rights
to the 1980 Olympics for $80 mil-
ion.
It has been said that the me-
dia is the message, and in sports
this certainly seems to be the
case. Television, in particular,
has taken to showcasing sports
as if they were earth-shattering
events ot dire consequences. Un-
der Commissioner Kuhn several
of the 1976 World Series games
were played at night in forty
degree weather in order to meet
prime time television arrange-
ments. In reaction, Red Smith,
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
for the New York Times, wrote,
"Unfortunately Kuhn doesn't
care about the quality of play,
and does care deeply about the
Nielson ratings." One now can
view daily tennis matches stag-
ed purely for winner-take-all
purses, challenge - of - the - sex
matches on CBS, and endless
hours of pre-and post- game
shows where commentators bab-
ble on about the importance of
the particular game or match,
offering in-depth analyses that
could only be of importance to
the wife or mother of the play-
ers.
tN A SENSE, media has both
extended the sports audience
and prostituted the substance of
the games themselves. By bring-
ing huge sums of money to ath-
letics, it has changed people's
attitudes and management and
player financial desires along
with destroying much of what
might be termed "the romantic
nature of the games". After all,
on the surface, professional
sports are merely games of skill
played by adults. But to many
fans, sports are much more,
encompassing dream-like fan-
tasies of heroic deeds and that
ever-present and important es-
cape from the doldrums of daily
Heroic emulation becomes

quite difficult when the indlvi-
dual athlete is being attacked in
the media by a man who wishes
to be his owner, and is subse-
quently shipped from Detroit to
Kansas City to San Francisco in
a period of three months.
Sports has become big busi-
ness in this country and the men
that have been running fran-
chises over the past fifty years
have not been able to adjust ad-
equately or sensibly to the chan-
ging times.
Today's owners include Mc-
Donald's hamburger chief Ray
Kroc, Seagram's distillery head
Charles Bronfman, Gus Busch
(as in the beer) and shipping
magnate George Steinbrenner
(about whom Red Smith quite
aptly wrote: "Men like George
Steinbrenner are men of lofty
principle. By the rules of their
religion, it is immoral to de-
bauh players with large sums
of money, but permissible and
sometimes admirable to enrich
another owner".)
Pressures in the business of
sport have become excruciating
for all those involved. It is un-
fortunate that this has happened
because sports can be an excel-
lent event for all those concern-
ed. For the player, professional
competition is the culmination
of years of labor and the re-
ward of competition and deserv-
ed salary can be most satisfy-
ing, For the fan, sports are en-
joyment and escape, and can be
both exciting and emotional.
Profesional athletics is at the
crossroads in terms of the form
in which it will continue to exist.
Unfortunately, the astronomical
financial concerns involved seem
to have taken the controlling
hand, leiwing the sport itself to
lag behind as merely the pro-
duct sold to the American pub-
lic.
Next week-a look at colleg-
iate sports.

l

I

Ln Akhnatova-

(continued from Page 7)
ned against her critics - a
kasan-t relief from biograph-
whose apologies and excuses
ike the reader doubt th
;dibility of the writer, and the
aracter of the subject.
[his approach is not consis-
it throughout the book, how-
ar. As laight approaches the
Id War years, she becomes
awn deeper into the story she
.ates-but never to the detri-
at of the work as a whole.
iaight never losses her sense
perspective; she has an excel-
it grasp of the history she de-
ibes. The Acmeist, Symbolist,
:turist and other trends in
issian literature are explained
a way even the totaly unin-
ated reader can understand.
d although she occasionally
shes through the events of

Akhmatova's life in a way that
makes the head whirl, she
spends three careful pages on
the 1915 lecture of Korney Chu-
kovsky, which crystalized the
differences between the poetry
of Akhmatova and Mayakovsky.
- When I told an acquaintance
of mine, a female poet, that I
was reading a biography of
Anna Akhmatova, her reply was
predictable:
"Anna who?"
Alas, this reaction would ap-
pear to be universal. Akhmato-
va, though virtually unknown in
this country, is a woman well
w o r t h everyone's t i m e and
study, both as a person and as
a poet. And in a world where
bloated, directionless biograph-
ies are- the rule rather than the
exception, Haight has provided
a concise study on both the
woman and the writer.

I

I

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SCHOOL OF MUSIC PRESENTS
THE MICHIGAN PREMIERE OF
Mahler Symphony No. 8
(Symphony of a Thousand)
TIHOMAS HILBISH-Conductor
CHAMBER CHOIR
UNIVERSITY CHOIR
ARTS CHORALE
LAWRENCE MARSH-Conductor
U-M SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA*
ANN ARBOR CHILDAENS CHORUS
HUNTER MARCH-Conductor
TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 1977-8 P.M.
HILL AUDITORIUM
Tickets at Liberty Records or by reail
ww miniaa.w m r+in in . mi inw n r .rrrninr
Mail Order Form-Tickets will be sent to you.
NAME....,...................... .,....................
Tickets $3.00, Students $1.50
no. of tickets ..... .at .........total amount paid ...,...-
make checks payable to: U-M School of Music .
Send to: Mahler Concert, U-M School of Music
Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
FURTHER INFORMATION 764-7592

(Continued from Page 3)
A few such people form small
but vocal minorities on both City
Council and the Ann Arbor
Planning Commission, w h e r e
they have been quick to warn
against dependence on parking
structures whenever the ques-
tion has arisen.
Ethel Lewis of the Planning
Commission believes the city
has "overestimated the need for
new parking" under present con-
ditions of traffic density.
"We can make better use of
the parking space we've already
got instead of building new
structures," says L e w i s. "A
large part of the parking prob-

lem is simply that p
to work in their car
them all day, tying
spaces that could l
shoppers."
Lewis suggests th
sider measures - to
such practices, such'
lation of rate struct
rious carports and fr
programs for d o w n
ployes.
Citizen groups 111k
tens' Association for
ning (CAAP) have
gestions, and feel t
made only "feeble a
consider alternative
centrated automobil(
dowtown area.

San- PIW(D

zv

Marcus eItrave G The tkHw Detroit Jazz I~nsemble
Cover $2.00

people come VET THE arguments brought
rs and park forward by those who favor
up a lot of an expanded system of city-
be used by owned parking structures cannot
be ignored. While no serious
he city con- shortage of parking exists for
discourage the time being, the completion
as manipu- of the new Federal Building at
tures in va- Fourth and' Liberty this sum-
ree bus pass mer will put an incredible bur-
t o w n em- den on the existing system, they
predict.
ke the Citi- Secondly, if the city takes no
rArea Plan- action to provide new parking,
similar sug- private companies may decide
he city has to build facilities of their own.
attempts" to This usually means surface lots,
es to con- which are not only wasteful of
e use in the scarce downtown acreage but
unpleasing to the eye as well.
Michigan Bell has already made
moves in this direction which
could result in the demolition of
three historic residential build-
ings on Liberty St.
The obvious solution would be
a compromise. City Council
Democrats who have opposed
new parking structures up to
now have announced they would
favor construction of at least
one carport if it were combined
with a city bus terminal. Lewis
admits she could go along with
"maybe just one" structure. Af-
ter the April city elections,
some action of the sort is cer-
ta to be proposed.
it is equallyc ertain that city.
officials will continue to-be sub-
jected to pressure from all
sides: to expand parking, to en-
courage more use of mass trans-
it, and other alternatives, or to
ban automobiles from the down-
town area altogether. How th,.q
respond to that pressure, and
how the private auto fares in
t h e gasoline - hungry y ea r s
bar ahead, will determine the kind
of city AnnArbor isgoing to be.

THE BIG BUSINESS
of professional
athletics

BACK STAGE
with the Alvin
Ailey Dance Tr4

STARFIPE DISCO- THURS.-FRI.-SAT.
FINE OINING - 1130 AM-9kCQO PM
Telephone 995-5955
AM Arb
"p1

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