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November 02, 1975 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1975-11-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


maery long
jo mnarcotty
barb eornell


Page Three

page four-books
page five-
November 2.

Number 7








names of little-known sports

select corps of international
amateur athletes, and yet, by his
own admission, less than one per
cent of the school has ever heard
his name. While competing for
Great Britain this summer at the
World Swimming championships
held in Cali Colombia, the Michi-
gan junior captured fifth place in
the 200 yard freestyle and earned
a silver medal as a member of the
800 yafd freestyle relay team. Dow-
nie has dual citizenship, remaining
loyal to both Scotland and the
United States. At Michigan, Gor-
don is one of the Big Ten's finest
comnetitors. Last year he swam
his way to first place in the 200
yard free style at the conference
meet as well as placing second in
the 500 and 1650 yard freestyle
Despite his achievement, Gordon
suffers from the relative anonimity
that afflicts most athletes at Mich-
igan. Even football stars who at-
tract 100,000 fans each weekend
walk around town unnoticed. In
Ann Arbor, the myth that these
jocks are big men on campus is
true only in the literal sense. Soon
after a contest ends, the recogni-
tion disappears, along with the
crowd. And although the media
may register his performance, the
grid star fades into obscurity until
called upon to shine next Satur-
day. Football players have the ad-
vantage of participating in a pro-
gram which is successful both com-
petitively and economically, and
has a huge following, but minor
sports figures, such as swimme'rs,
are, for the most part, completely
Downie said he feels it is unfor-
tunate that people don't think of
most sports as being on the same

level as football. "The athletes on
the other teams work as hard, if
not harder, than the football play-
ers," he stated. "Comparatively,
there are some better athletes on
other teams. For instance, Tom
Szuba, on the swim team, is the
national A.A.U. championship in
his event. That's the equivalent of
a first team all-American, but
still, who knows about it?
"f DON'T REALLY mind not being
as well known as football play-
ers. I swim because I want to. I
came to Michigan because of its
fine academic and athletic reputa-
tions, its long swimming tradition

ville, New York where he was nam-
ed a High School All-American in
his senior year. He was also named
western New York's amateur ath-
lete of the year in 1973. At Michi-
gan, he practices twice a day with
the rest of the varsity.
"We practice on weekdays for
two hours in the early morning,"
he said. "In the afternoons, I play
water polo during the off season.
When the competition starts, we
work out really hard all week, and
on the weekends when there aren't
meets. It's a tough sport to stay in
shape for, but the personal satis-
faction I get is well worth it. It

"The athletes on the other teams work as hard, if not
harder, than the football players," swimming star Gordon

Downie stated.

"Comparatively, there are some better

athletes on other teams. For instance, Tom Szuba, on the
swim team is the equivalent of a first team all-American,
but still, who knows about it?"

JAN STANNARD, A senior from
Flint, has played volleyball for
14 years. Since Michigan has no
varsity team, Stannard and others
comprise the volleyball club. The
club receives no funds direct-
ly from the athletic department,
and has been rejected in several
attempts to use Crisler Arena for
exhibitions of the sport. Stannard
and company hold their practice
sessions and games in the intra-
mural sports building amid bounc-
ing basketballs and sparse gather-
ings of assorted curious onlookers.
Most members are not particu-
larly happy about the lack of at-
tention paid to theid club. Stan-
nard summed up the feelings of
the squad: "Volleyball is one of
the country's fastest moving, fast-
est growing sports. We're trying to
help it grow here, but we're not
getting much help. Since volleyball
is relatively unpopular, we're not
getting any money which makes
it hard to expand the program.
The fan interest here isn't at all
proportional to the talent."
Individually, Stannard is one of
the better players in the area. He
has twice been named first team,
all-Midwest Intercollegiate Volley-
ball Association. Like Downie, his
father was the one who got him
started on the game. At 6-1, he's
about average height for a volley-
ball player, but short for his posi-
tion-spiker. Jan is very philo-
sophical about his game and sports
in general:
"I gain a great deal of personal
pleasure from playing, but it would
be greatly enhanced if it was some-
how recognized. It's the same in
all athletics, anyone who achieves
a level of expertise misses recogni-
tion if it's not given. I definitely
am jealous of the football players

Gymnast Pierre Leclerc on the rings

and Gus (Stager, the swimming
coach.)) I'm proud of the school
and the, football team. When I go
to another school for a meet, we
talk about the football team. I sup-
port them just like their money
supports us."
The pre-med biology major has
been swimming for as long as he
can remember. His father, who was
a member of the Canadian Nation-
al water polo team encouraged him
to practice and get involved in
competition. "I come from a swim-
ming family," he mused, "my fath-
er and two older sisters were ex-
cellent swimmers." He continued
through high school in Williams-

would just be nice to be a little
more popular."
Perhaps if the sport were a little
more popular, the athletic depart-
ment would be able to give the
swimmers the financial support
necessary to keep them a contend-
er for the national crown. Two
seasons ago, nine Michigan swim-
mers qualified for the NCAA
championships. Unfortunately, on-
ly five of those men were sent to
Long Beach, California for the
meet and the Maize and Blue fin-
ished 15th overall. This was the
first time since the national cham-
pionship meet was established in
1937 that a Michigan team placed
worse than tenth..

- not vengeful - they are well
known because they draw so many
fans and get so much publicity.
I'm seeking the chance to get full
satisfaction from volleyball for
me and for everyone else."
TAN HAS BEEN one of many vol-
leyball enthusiasts attempting
to get the sport, among other
things,, varsity status. Currently
the players bear the bulk of the
financial burden imposed by trav-
elling, equipment and tournament
entries costs. The 40-50 members
(not all of whom travel -to each
game in the extensive schedule)
pay $10 dues which cover about
half the entry fees. Levine states
that the "finances and support re-

ceived by the IM department are
much better than what has been
given in the past, but it still isn't
"We're just asking for a chance.
If we could hold an exhibition be-
fore or after a basketball game at
Crisler, that would help us a lot,"
he exphasized. "It would give us
some of the exposure we need."
* * *
tics is a fairly well-off sport
at Michigan. Under the guidance
of coach Newt Loken, the team has
captured the Big Ten champion-
Jeff Liebster is an Associate Sports
Editor at the Daily.
See UNSUNG, Page S

THE TINY plastic golfer that es-
corts them into the Union Sta-
tion is the only hint of the crazed
comic minds they so cleverly cloak
in conventional street garb.
But there they are, Peter Berg-
man, Philip Proctor, and the little
golfer Proctor carries suspended on
the end of an aluminum stick; the
clowns of the contemporary cosmic
cult, humor-mongers in their own
right sprung from the original
four-man Firesign Theater group.
Proctor, a handsome, compact
man with a mezmerizing personal
aura, is the first one to speak. "You
guys here at this school, you have
one of the most vicious and ill-

& Bergman:

There's method to their madness

tempered animals in the world, the
wolverine. You couldn't have a wol-
verine choo-choo for your pet wol-
verine. He'd just tear it to shreds!"
Bergman, with his contagious
smile and a tremendous "radio
voice," picks up smoothly on his
partner's improvised bit. "Where
you'd have a track, removable wol-
verine litter tray. Or a wolverine-
powered dr ive wheel. Or a wolver-
ine - rings - the - bell - in - the -
smokestack water-bottle. Look!
It's a wolverine choochoo. A home
for your wolverine, full of fun to
keep your wolverine busy, watch
the wheels turn and listen to the
bell rings as he eats through it .. .
in less than two minutes."

rapid-fire improvisation and
parody. And though he says that
he is "a respectable member of the
community," an examination of his
past reveals that this brilliant man
was always a little bizarre.
Bergman grew up in what he
called "the wealthy Jewish com-
munity of Shaker Heights, Ohio."
His comedy career began early,
though he hastens to add that he's
always been scholar, too. In ninth
grade he wrote a humor column
for the school paper, and in high
school he was kicked off the first
of many radio stations.
Imagine the scene as he describ-
ed it:

It's 1956, late October. Berger
and Bergman are not in their al-
phabetically - assigned seats be-
cause they're making the morning
announcements today. "May I have
your attention please .. ." There
they are, on the speaker. "All rise
for the flag salute . .."
(Right now in Washington Sena-
tor Joe McCarthy is dying of can-
cer and the Russians are a year
away from launching Sputnik and
along with it, the Space Age. The
cold war is on.)
"I-1-1 pledge allegience, to the
flag, of the United States of . . .
We are so sorry, Charlie, to inter-
rupt this. We are the Chinese Com-
munists and we have taken over
the school radio station. There will
be a voluntary required assembly
this morning. It's only voluntary,
you see, and everybody will be
A few seconds later the princi-
pal's voice takes over and Bruce
Berger and Peter Bergman walk
red-faced and grinning into home-
room. "We got kicked off the radio
station!" Peter blurts out.
THE NEXT YEAR young Bergman
packed his bags and headed
for Yale University and, though he
didn't know it at the time, his fu-
ture partner and cohort in com-
edy. They both belonged to the
prestigious undergraduate drama-
tic association, The Dramat.
There was a lot of talent at Yale
during the late fifties, and as Proc-
tor admits matter-of-factly, they
were part of it. But Proctor's ca-

he went back to Goshen to see his
grandmother, and he still returns
periodically to "rediscover his
childhood." But his memories of
Goshen are still vivid.
It's July 1956, and you're with a
group of kids in the back yard.
Phil and Quinn have just hustled
you out of a dime so you could
see the inside of their rocket ship
(packing crates and electric parts).
Phil enthralls you with the story
of how he and his buddies tried to
get to the moon in this rig, but
ended up crashing in the backyard.
There is a scorched patch of grass,
and you're told that that's the
launch pad. You're not quite sure
whether or not to believe Phil's
heroic tale, but it is great when-
ever Phil comes back to Goshen.
He sure is a gas.
Proctor grew up to earn a degree
in Drama from Yale. After gradu-
ating in 1962 he lost contact with
Bergman, but ran in to him again
four years later while Bergman
was a "media guru" on a late night
call-in radio program. Bergman in-
troduced him to Dave Ossman, and
Phil Austin and Firesign Theatre
was born.
THE FIRESIGN, with their often
acrid, critical and snobbish
huimor, became an important voice
in the late '60's underground.
"I think elitism was necessary
for my own safety," Bergman
says. "I don't think that between
1966 and 1971 I could have safely
been anything but what I was -
an underground comedian. Like in
the bunkers in the tunnels, under-
ground. That's not needed any-

ant, cultish and extremely com-
plex. A listener almost has to be
familiar with the material to un-
derstand and appreciate it.
When the Firesign became popu-
lar enough *to tour, Proctor and
Bergman eventually became an act
in themselves +because the other
two weren't interested in the
knock - down, drag '- out style of
touring that Proctor and Bergman
mor, whacky as it may seen, is
closely tied to the nation's socio-
political atmosphere. Both are
keen social observers and since the
"revolution" is over, their style of
humor must change with the times.
The bite and the bitterness in
Proctor and Bergman's humor is
gone. They are experimenting with
more traditional formats these
days, hoping to broaden their ap-
peal. It's what Bergman calls
"bridging humor."
"We'd like to change the spell-
ing from the Untied States back to
the United States." Proctor said,
only half jokingly. "We'd like to re-
unite them through humor."
The interview is over. Proctor
and Bergman get up and hands are
shaken all around. Then, following
the little plastic golfer, they go on
their way to unite the country,
starting with a pasger-bv who
questions Proctor about the little
plastic man.
"Well, this is a hbndsome Cauca-
sion miniature golfer." he begins
effortlescv "If you think Atlanta
i'nil or n erowdedr von haven't

.... .......

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