Thursday, June 05, 2008

The '60s, A Turbulent Decade for Chris Schenkel

(Sick of your Celtics-Lakers history yet? Yeah, me too. But before the real games start, here's a story I'm pretty sure you won't get from ESPN.)

Student protest was all the rage (in every sense) on college campuses in the spring of 1969. This put Wesleyan University's radicals in a real bind, namely, what to protest? Leon Trotsky would have found it too much of a stretch to paint the administration of that gentle liberal arts school as agents of warmongering imperialism.

Perhaps as a marketing ploy, the administration invited a Dow Chemical recruiter to campus in May, and the radicals had their moment. The administration building was duly seized in a sit-in. Tense, round-the-clock negotiations (I love newspaper cliches. Sue me) duly commenced. That is, until the clock came round to an unexpected difficulty.

Too late, radicals, administrators, and local police all realized the sit-in had begun the very morning of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The Celts and Lakers were tied at 3 apiece. It was Wilt vs. Russell. It was Jerry West, John Havlicek, Sam Jones. What to do.

Basketball won a 1-0 forfeit over social justice and world revolution. TV sets were duly brought into the building and hippies and pigs suspended their little problems to focus on what truly mattered.

Don Nelson's shot fell through, the balloons stayed under the Forum roof for three more seasons, and the revolution, untelevised, was also canceled. The sit-in ended the next morning, called on account of mutual embarrassment that the above story might generate the national ridicule it surely deserved.

All that remains is the fading memory of that magnificent '60s battle cry: Up Against the Wall, Mendy Rudolph!!


Post a Comment

<< Home