Freshmen football players at the University of Houston sport shaved heads. The custom is part of football tradition at Houston, but to a nonfootball-playing psychology student named Rick Brass it is an imposed indignity and therefore appalling.
"It's demeaning to the campus in general," he said. "Anyone who cares about people would be insulted by this type of activity." He told university administrators it constituted hazing, which is prohibited by Texas state law. The law says further that a member of the faculty or administration who knowingly permits hazing and refuses to report it can be suspended for three years, fined up to $500 and sent to jail for 30 days.
Brass said it was necessary for a shaven freshman to complain before legal action could be taken and conceded that because of the close ties among football players it was unlikely such a complaint would be forthcoming. "Stopping the shaving is going to have to come from outside football," he said. "Nobody wants to take away the prestige that goes with being a football player. All I want to do is have them stop violating somebody's rights, which is what shaving heads is."
Faced with the situation, head Football Coach Bill Yeoman said, wearily, "Five or six years ago the freshmen themselves decided to shave their heads. It's been done ever since." Asked if the freshmen did it to themselves, Yeoman said, "I'm not interested."
SECOND CITY'S SECOND PLAYER
Much attention has been paid this season to that baseball player in Chicago whose batting average is .309, who has hit 37 home runs and who has driven in 112 runs, a performance that has contributed handsomely to his team's strong second-place standing. Curiously, even sadly, almost no attention has been paid to that other player in the nation's Second City whose average is .335, who has hit 34 home runs and who has driven in 114 runs, a performance that has contributed handsomely to his team's strong second-place standing. While Dick Allen of the White Sox has been in the spotlight all year and seems a good bet for the American League's Most Valuable Player Award, the obscure Billy Williams of the Cubs has been going along having what for him is almost a routine superb season. Two years ago he finished with 42 home runs, 129 runs batted in, a .322 batting average and no glory. Most of that, including the Most Valuable Player Award, went to Johnny Bench, whose Cincinnati Reds won the pennant. Bench may win the MVP again this season, or perhaps Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates will, although neither is having as good a year as Williams. But MVP awards generally go with pennants or publicity, and Williams has had neither. It appears then that he will have to be satisfied with knowing that year in and year out he is just about the best hitter in baseball.
When Bobby Fischer returned to New York last week from Iceland after becoming heavyweight chess champion, politicians rushed to welcome him with wit that flowed like mucilage. Bobby Fischer Day scarcely approached the historic greetings accorded Charles Lindbergh or Amelia Earhart, but several hundred natives, including Mayor Lindsay, gathered to pun. A banner over the City Hall portico had a drawing of a chess piece and the legend "Welcome Bobby Fischer, World's Chess Champion." Since New York City always lives beyond its means, the reverse side of the secondhand banner read, "Welcome Apollo 16."
The mayor opened the day by telling a smiling Fischer, "It is not within my power to make you a bishop, a knight or a king." He called the champ well-nigh unique, and "an authentic Brooklyn genius." As Fischer was born in Chicago, though raised in Brooklyn, Mayor Daley seems entitled to equal time. Sebastian Leone, borough president of Brooklyn, rose to remark that Brooklynites came to the ceremony secure in the knowledge that "for the first time in our lives we were not going to get rooked when we got to Manhattan." Getting into the thickness of the occasion, Fischer replied, "I would like to deny a vicious rumor going around. It is not true that Henry Kissinger phoned me early to tell me the moves."
Next day in The New York Times a caption under a photograph of Fischer and Lindsay read "Good Move." Not to be daunted, The Daily News had captions that said, "They All Came Out to Check the King," and "A thousand or so of Fischer's fans are but pawns in his hands at City Hall ceremonies yesterday."