Watching the 2016 Summer Olympics and the magnificent athletes from all over the world, I am reminded that a modicum of physical ability is a good asset to have if you are planning to enter the field of Public Relations.
Probably the most effective sport to engage in is the game of golf. Whether you’re side-by-side in a golf cart with a client, or at the bar at the 19th Hole, you remain in close proximity and can do your most efficient one-on-one work. For me, that proved to be the case on my frequent matches with hotel owner Charles Mapes. Once out of the hotel and subsequently at the golf club, Mapes underwent a complete change of character. Behind his desk at the hotel, he was the model business professional who had little time for small-talk. Tooling around the 18 holes in his personal golf cart, he was an affable, humorous individual. Of all the times I played with and against him, the most memorable match was when Ray Bolger and I teamed up against Mapes and entertainer Al Bello. During that encounter, I received numerous golf tips from Bolger which helped us defeat Mapes and Bello.
Next sport that has a good amount of time for social and business conversations is that of tennis. Between points on court there is lots of time for banter. Post-game time is usually spent at the adjoining bar facility. During the 50 or so-odd years that I played tennis, there were many memorable occasions. Tops would be the Clint Eastwood Celebrity Tourney which I was fortunate to direct on the pristine courts of the Tahoe Racquet Club at Incline Village, Lake Tahoe. In addition to playing with many celebrities such as Eastwood, Cornell Wilde, Lorne Greene, Gene Hackman, Herb Caen and Doug McClure, I had the opportunity to socialize with Merv Griffin, Rick Barry, Dan Rowan and Wayne Rogers. On another occasion tennis became the entry into showering at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City. That occurred after Governor Paul Laxalt and I had changed into our tennis attire and journeyed over to his former private residence which had a tennis/pool facility. After being soundly trounced by Laxalt, we returned to the mansion for our showers, which were followed by a tasty luncheon on the back porch of the building.
Another extremely socialized athletic endeavor is the game of Squash. Since most of the action on court is fast and furious, there is very little opportunity for conversation, however, over numerous beers following contests there is plenty of time. Squash was introduced in the Reno area by the late Newt Crumley, owner of the Holiday Hotel.
Crumley’s protégé was the late Dick Munn, who recruited a score of former handball players to take up the more
vigorous game of Squash. Among my favorite memories of the game was the fact that a Squash racquet as part of your travelling luggage would get you into world-wide Squash facilities such as the Harvard Club in New York, the Olympic Club in San Francisco, the Seattle Yacht Club, Portland’s Multnomah Club and the courts in Victoria BC. My two favorite Squash opponents would have to be Charles Ufford of the Harvard Club and Commander Whitehead of Schweppes Bottling fame. In Ufford’s case, my friend who set up the match failed to inform me that Ufford was at that time the number two player in the world. Had I known that fact, I would never have been able to score the few points against him that I did. As for Whitehead, our match occurred at the local Y when Whitehead appeared here as a guest speaker for the Reno Ad Club.
Another strenuous sport that came in handy was that of Handball. Former University AD Dick Trachok played at the Y before both of us turned to Squash. The only celebrity I ever encountered on the Handball court was late actor Tony Curtis.
Other sports that are business-related include boating, water-skiing, pool and table tennis. You don’t have to be a champion in any of the aforementioned sports, you only have to be a respectable competitor.