STARS IN MY CROWN
The slowly rising wave of criticism directed at the absolute dominance that college football coaches hold over their teams slopped a little higher last week with the word that Air Force Academy Coach Ben Martin is awarding his players stars for outstanding accomplishments on the field—intercepted passes, recovered fumbles, a large number of tackles, and so on. The stars are in the form of decals that are pasted onto the player's helmet. Remember how you felt back in the first grade when you did a perfect page of capital As and got a shiny gold star pasted in your book? Can't you just see a 220-pound middle linebacker writing home and saying, "Dear Mom, guess what? I got a star for gang tackling today!"
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Consensus in Baltimore is that Johnny Unitas has gone back because 1) his protection is not what it used to be, 2) his receivers are not as good as they used to be, 3) opponents have studied his moves and are no longer surprised at such tricks as double or triple pumping.
•Furman, which produced the nation's top scorers in All-Americas Frank Selvy and Darrell Floyd, is not giving any basketball scholarships this year. It's a matter of economics at the hard-pressed Baptist institution.
•At least three Big Ten schools reportedly are casting covetous eyes at the Big Eight's two most successful football coaches so far this season—Dan Devine of Missouri and Bob Devaney of Nebraska (see page 75).
•A new rule in college basketball this season is aimed at the big man. If a player swings his arms excessively—as strong rebounders almost always do—he'll lose the ball out of bounds, even if he doesn't make physical contact.
A 13-year-old Canadian horse named Blue Beau jumped a 7-foot 1-inch barrier at the National Horse Show in New York's Madison Square Garden last week to win an event called the International Puissance. This was honor enough, but as often happens with superior athletes it wasn't so much the victory that made Blue Beau the crowd's favorite as it was the way he did it. Unlike most horses, which go straight up and over the wall like an old-fashioned scissors-style high jumper, Blue Beau seems to have studied the technique of Valeri Brumel, a seven-foot high jumper of a somewhat different species. As he lifted toward the height he had to clear, Blue Beau twisted his hindquarters horizontally in a sort of equine western roll and nipped his heavy legs over the fence way out there, to one side. It looked clumsy, compared to the straight-up style of the other jumpers, who float proudly through the air like four-masted schooners with all sails rigged, and as Rider Tommy Gayford said, "It can scare you if you're on him."
Of course, Stan Musial has an unorthodox batting style and he's a champion, too. Like Blue Beau.
Dolly Connelly of Bellingham, Wash., a lady of quality and truth, offers a fish story about deer:
It seems that two Boeing engineers always hunt together. They pool their deer tags, so to speak, until each has the one buck he is allowed. On opening day this year, one of them was successful, the other got skunked. So, with one deer tag remaining, they went out again the next weekend. High in the hills they came on a hogback ridge with plenty of deer sign on either side, so they decided to split up and meet again at the base of the ridge. When they got back together later each was looking for the other to help him haul his deer—and they had only one tag left between them.
They are both fine sportsmen and it was unthinkable to leave one of the bucks in the woods to rot. So they brought both animals out, piled them in their pickup truck and started down, trying to figure out how they could explain this to the local game protector. Just before they reached the main road leading back to Seattle, they spotted a station wagon parked deep in the brush and they stopped to investigate. In the front seat of the wagon snored a hunter deep in an alcoholic sleep. His deer tag stuck jauntily out of his hatband. His rifle was on the floor in the back.
The engineers exchanged a delighted look. Without a word, they went to work. One wrestled the extra buck from the pickup to the back of the station wagon and applied the drunk's deer tag to it. His companion took the drunk's rifle, got in the truck, drove back up the forest road a mile or so, fired the rifle twice, retained the empty cartridges and drove back down again. Carefully, the rifle was placed across the sleeper's lap and the expended cartridges were scattered on the seat of the car.
Then the two engineers left, fast and quietly, grinning with relief. The sad part of the story is no one was around to report what happened when the potted Nimrod awoke.
Then there was the one about the guy who drove out from the big city and checked into a motel in the middle of the day with a beautiful girl, a bottle and no luggage. He told the clerk he was going to watch television.
So don't snicker. He watched television. It happens in Connecticut every Sunday when the New York Giants are home. And something approximating it happens in other National Football League cities—wherever ingenious fans can find a place to catch the game on a TV station located outside the NFL's 75-mile home-game blackout area.
The Connecticut motels were not the first with this TV bootlegging, but they have given it class. They even advertise in the New York newspapers—"Big, beautiful private room, a 21-inch television set...plenty of glasses and ice." And the crowds and liquor are pouring in. Like at the 160-room Stratford Motor Inn in Stratford, Conn., which is perhaps the only blackout oasis anywhere that features a book of Shakespeare's plays in every room.
The inn's 50-foot antenna is reverently pointed, like an electronic Moslem, toward Hartford, 60 miles away, and upward of 250 football pilgrims have been on hand for its Sunday picture. The tab is $10.35 for a room with a TV view, and the management tries to limit the number of persons in a room to four.
Early arrivals can lunch at the inn's Mermaid Tavern on such Anglo-viands as "Beeftake, Kidney and Oyfter Pye 4.95," and "Madras Curry of Chyken and Prawns, Pineapple Chutney 5.25"; or quench a thirst with a "Yard of Ale," which is served in a yard-long glass by quaint "English" barmaids. Recently, however, the management, realizing that Sir Laurence Olivier is one thing and Y. A. Tittle another, added uniformed vendors to hawk sandwiches and beer from door to door to "give some of that ball park flavor."
If Connecticut motels feature quality, the city of Detroit has long since had bootleg TV in quantity—at least on the west side of town. West of Woodward Avenue the Lions' games from Tiger Stadium come in clear on most average home sets from a TV station in Lansing, 85 miles away. An elaborate survey in 1959 satisfied the Lions that practically nobody in Detroit could pick up the Lansing station. One faithful surveyor trudged through 74 bars as part of the saloon TV census. Seventy-four bars he visited, and the Lions believed him. The west-siders think the Lions are crazy. They don't need a survey to tell them anything; they've got the whole east side in their homes Sunday afternoons. One west-sider says, "I'm going to send the Lions my bills for beer and food."
Around noon the driveways on the east side miraculously clear out. The only traffic jams in the Motor City occur in that mystic land west of Woodward Avenue. A more acute survey might show that the whole west side of Detroit lists so many inches each Sunday. "It's like a ship taking water," a Detroiter reports. "Things slide across the living room into the west walls. Then when the game is over and the traffic starts back across Woodward Avenue, everything slides back the other way. It's very dangerous."
In Green Bay and Milwaukee, alternate home cities of the Packers, and in Chicago the signals from such places as Madison, Wis. or Rockford, Ill. are too distant to be beamed directly into any of the home-game cities, but residents need make only a short drive out of town to find a bar that has the game on TV. It's the biggest boon to Sunday drinking in the Midwest since Carrie Nation moved East. "We don't charge anything to watch. Who has to?" says the bartender at the Paddock Club in Wheaton, Ill., west of Chicago. "Without a game we have only half a dozen people in here drinking, but with a good game we draw close to 60."
In San Francisco the ardor of 49er fans has been dimmed somewhat by a succession of also-ran seasons and by the 1962 glories of the baseball Giants. But a few years ago some enterprising promoters fixed up aerials and brought in a Chico station, 150 miles away. They formed a club, charged $2 dues and jammed thousands of members into auditoriums and hotel banquet rooms to see the game at Kezar Stadium. Unfortunately, the reception failed, and since no one could blame that on the coach, the members demanded their dues back. The club disbanded.
Now Reno has stepped in to fill the breach. Last month it invited visitors to attend its so-called Sports Weekend, which is something like Sodom pushing a church bazaar. The Reno bill of fare included a live exhibition by the pro basketball Warriors and TV of both World Series and 49er games. Unfortunately rain dampened both the Series and travel from California, and Reno was stuck with its usual complement of slot machines and divorce seekers.
Although some of the bootleg watchers act as though their TV activity has a speakeasy atmosphere, it can hardly be construed as unlawful. There is no limit to how far an FCC-licensed TV signal may be sent and seen. Still, a change may be coming. Detroit General Manager Edwin J. Anderson has made a preliminary proposal to Commissioner Pete Rozelle that the defined blackout area be amended to include all stations whose beams reach to within 75 miles of the home city. Since it takes about five officials to measure off the 10 yards for a first down, it is interesting to speculate exactly how the NFL is going to go about measuring beam lengths.
Maybe the league should drop the whole thing. Considering the number of fans being driven from hearth and family into the dens of liquor-drenched iniquity and TV, the NFL might just end up getting more trouble from the WCTU than from the AFL.
THE LAST STRAW
A baseball fan who was traveling abroad last month reports in a disconsolate note that in the overseas press there's no place like home plate. Struggling to keep abreast of the baseball news—the playoff and the World Series—he eagerly grasped at this straw from London's Daily Telegraph and Morning Post: "Today the Giants play their first game in the 'World Series' with the New York Yankees.... The 'World Series,' the Test matches of baseball, is decided on the best four of seven goals." Biting his tongue, our friend then and there gave up the chase until he came home again.
HOW TO SUCCEED WITHOUT REALLY
The Football Writers Association of America has just released its list of 168 nominees for the 1962 All-America team. From this list, drawn up after much consultation and thorough analysis, the football writers will make their final choice. We are rooting for Tackle Bill Wright of Princeton, who will be surprised and delighted—or maybe just amused—to find his name on this select roster. The football writers in their wisdom may pick Bill for first team All-America, but so far this season he's been no better than third team All-Princeton.
THEY SAID IT
•Jim Wicks, manager of British fighter Henry Cooper, on Sonny Liston: "He won't lose his title without he goes to sleep one night and somebody nicks it."
•Jim Camp, George Washington football coach, asked if his team softened up West Virginia in losing 27-25, a week before the Mountaineers suffered their first defeat, 51-22, to Oregon State: "Yep, like breaking a boxer's hand with your jaw."
•Norm Van Brocklin, Minnesota Vikings coach, after two of his players were thrown out of a game for fighting: "Rookies learn that the one who swings second loses. An oldtimer would have waited for a pileup, or some other time, to get even."