SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
January 29, 1973
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January 29, 1973


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The flap in New York City over whether or not The Star-Spangled Banner should be played at a track meet was a tempest in a teapot, but it has excited passion among the lunatic fringe east and west of reason. Opportunists raced to make a law of anthem-playing at sports events, which is nonsense even if routine form for politicians. We are dealing here with a tradition which should remain just that—and nothing more—until people tire of it.

It is reasonable for someone to be simultaneously patriotic and against the incessant playing of the anthem at insignificant events. It is also logical to be anti-anthem on political grounds. But the majority of Americans evidently likes to hear The Star-Spangled Banner played, and it is not mandatory for the majority to abandon its preferences because of the feelings of a dissident minority. If an athlete chooses to be so ill-mannered as not to honor the anthem, that is his right, but it does not justify rejection of a tradition favored by most Americans.

Our position on discourtesy is that we are against it. But we would hate to call it a crime.


Pro football's year of the hash mark is over. Now we can open the envelope and see what really happened after those little white marks—delineating the point where the ball is spotted after it has gone out of bounds or too close to the sideline—were shifted closer to the center of the field.

Rushing yardage went up, as everyone predicted, but only 7.09%. It had gone up 8.09% a year earlier, before the great hash-mark trek. The average yardage gained per rush went up slightly, from 4.0 to 4.1 yards per carry. Passing yardage went down for the third straight season, but the average gain per pass increased, as did the percentage of completed passes.

Thus, even though there was more running and less passing, there was greater offensive efficiency, and scoring increased about 4%. This was due in part to an improvement in field-goal kicking, with greater accuracy and a higher number of successful kicks, presumably because of the better angles provided by the new hash marks. But the admittedly dull field goal added only about 3� points per team for the season, while touchdowns added about nine points. Thus, because the hash marks were moved with an eye to hyping up scoring, they must be considered a success, if a very mild one.


Philip K. Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs, said last week that his second-place team lost $161,336 last year. "When a ball club draws 1,300,000, as the Cubs did, and still loses money, then baseball is in trouble," Wrigley told Ed Munzel of the Chicago Sun-Times. "If this continues, you know where we'll be? In the same boat with an opera company, which means the only way baseball will survive will be through the aid of public subscriptions—getting outright donations from people.

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