BYPLAY by ROGER KAHN: The Socializing of Slap Shots

BYPLAY

Fragments of a strange, neo-Marxist, semicomic, mostly portentous sports story broke—I should say oozed—out of Cleveland the other week.

A hockey team called the Barons stopped paying its players. Melvin Swig, the president of the Barons, pleaded the club's poverty, which was an honest plea as Mr. Swig stated it. The Barons were not drawing in their home arena near Cleveland. Mr. Swig, however, resides in San Francisco. There his family prospers in real estate and owns the glorious and expensive Fairmont Hotel.

"The guys won't skate for free," said Bob Stewart, a husky defenseman who runs the Cleveland chapter of the...

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