SHYING LIKE HORSEMEN
Sorely in need of money, or so it says, the State of New York is contemplating a highly arguable step: the legalization of off-track betting on Thoroughbred and harness racing. The New York legislature may well put through an off-track betting bill after it convenes next month. The prospect has been greeted with consternation by the U.S. Trotting Association and the Horsemen's (Thoroughbred) Benevolent and Protective Association. The USTA predicts major losses to harness racing. The HBPA goes further. It threatens to boycott New York racing.
What both associations fear is a decline in on-track betting and track admissions, on which purse sizes are now based. The theory is that bettors will not bother to go to the track if they can place their bets at a shop around the corner.
Aside from the boycott threat, which is patent nonsense when directed against a state that has the largest racing attendance in the country, the horsemen's opposition would appear, at first blush, to be soundly based. Except that there are other considerations. In the first place, the state will almost certainly share some of its take with the tracks. Secondly, there is no real evidence that attendance will be affected adversely. It might even go up. One recalls fears that radio and television would ruin the book publishing business, which in fact is flourishing as never in its history. Betting will undoubtedly increase, and a large part of the increase will come from those who do not now bet on the horses or go to the track at all. We may hope that some of these, developing an interest in racing as a sport instead of a mere gambling device, will eventually want to see the horses run.
We suggest that the horsemen rein up and wait to see an actual bill in the legislature before throwing up their hands and putting out inane threats.
DEPENDS ON WHO'S RULING
Since its adoption last spring, the new basketball rule regulating the conduct of coaches on the bench has been viewed apprehensively by the men it was designed to control. The rule says that officials must assess a technical foul against a coach who arises from the bench while the clock is running except for the purpose of signaling his team to call time out or to confer with substitutes on the bench. Coaches spent the summer and fall speculating as to how rigidly the rule would be enforced.
Now they are beginning to find out, but they are not so sure what they are finding. As is so often the case with a controversial rule, it is being interpreted differently in different conferences The Missouri Valley Conference has told its officials to take a tough, literal line. Its neighbor, the Big Eight, much more liberal, permits coaches to rise to direct play while the clock is running so long as they do not appear to be disagreeing with the call of an official.
One of the nation's most volatile and irrepressible coaches, Abe Lemons of Oklahoma City University, was among the first to be slapped with a technical foul call. During a game with North Texas, he leaped up and began gesticulating wildly at the officials, one of whom promptly called the foul. But Lemons won a reversal. He had, he said, merely been calling attention to the fact that a lighted cigarette, tossed onto the court by a fan, was threatening to send the whole place up in flames.
FAREWELL, POOR BOY