QUESTION OF TASTE
The decision of the National Football League, of Pimlico racetrack and of some colleges to maintain weekend sports schedules as the people mourned the murder of President Kennedy shocked some sports fans. There were protests, and even hysterical threats of bombs and picketing.
All men are not alike in their sense of fitness. The games that were held were very well attended. It was, in the end, something that everyone had to decide for himself. No act of fiat—one way or the other—would have been an appropriate memorial for John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
OLD GUARD FIGHTS ON
Before the college basketball season even starts, the fight has begun over the method to be used in selecting the team that will represent the U.S. at the 1964 Olympics. Once again it is an NCAA-AAU battle.
In the past, the trials to select a team were heavily and, we believe, unfairly weighted in the AAU's favor. Three NCAA and three AAU teams participated despite the fact that about 90% of first-rate amateur basketball is played on college campuses. In addition, the selection committee had a disproportionate number of AAU members. Today, AAU basketball is just about dead. Only one major team is left from the National Industrial League, the Phillips 66ers. There is no real tournament to choose a champion. AAU basketball is pickup-team basketball.
Despite all this, the AAU is going to insist, at an Olympic Basketball Committee meeting next Sunday in Kansas City's Muehlebach Hotel, on the old trials system. It was unjust four years ago; it is idiotic now. But the AAU controls the committee.
With no real hope that our suggestion will be accepted, but simply because it makes sense, we urge that the man best qualified be put in charge of the trials and the selection of the U.S. team. He is the University of California's athletic director, Pete Newell, who knows more about basketball and international competition than all the AAU committeemen put together. And then some.
THE SPITTER (CONT.)
C. C. Johnson Spink, editor and publisher of baseball's Sporting News, recently queried the 20 general managers of major league baseball teams, asking each of them if he would be for or against legalization of the spitball in case the subject should come up at the forthcoming (Dec. 5-7) major league meetings in Los Angeles.
Sixteen general managers were against legalization of the spitter for varied reasons: it would be bad for the youth of America, pitchers already have enough of an advantage over hitters, rules should stay rules, etc.
Joe Brown, general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates and one of the four favoring acceptance of the spitter, was more cogent than cozy. "I feel the spitter is being used even more widely than publicized," he said. "It is neither dangerous nor unsanitary."
Brown, of course, is right that the spitter is being openly used by pitchers with no rebuffs from umpires. It appears, however, that legalization of it is far away. The league's presidents are far from disposed to tell their umpires that a law is indeed a law or to back up umpires who might challenge a pitcher who throws a spitter. The umps remember the balk rule fiasco.
THE GAME OF LIFE
Games are part of youth's preparation for life and, according to Dr. Frank P. Foster of Boston, some games are better in this regard than others. He does not think too well, for instance, of football. Fishing, golf, bowling—that's the prescription, says Dr. Foster.
What the adult male needs, he said the other day, is "muscle enough to shake hands, a head hard enough to take a Martini with a business lunch, a digestive tract that will take anything anywhere and a system that can go without sleep."
Now, if someone would invent a game that involves moderate use of the hands, liquor, eating junk and staying up all night, that would be the very ticket. Come to think of it, someone has. It's called poker.
LE BEAU GOLF
In the month following the Canada Cup match at Saint-Nom-la-Bret√®che (SI, Nov. 4) French interest in golf has by no means reverted to traditional indifference. On the contrary. French press coverage has continued strong. Even provincial newspapers have joined the Paris dailies in talking up the game. Cartoonists, among them Le Nouveau Candide's Charmoz (see below), have seized on golf as a popular subject. (In this one Charmoz is purporting to illustrate the Rules of Golf. The rule: "Irregularities of surface which could in any way affect a player's lie shall not be removed or pressed down by the player.")
Golf's biggest boost in France came last week on the state television network. The popular sports program, Les Coulisses de l'Exploit, presented a how-to-play-golf show, including a club-by-club explanation of the game.
An ambitious golf club is abuilding at Rochefort-en-Yvelines, and club officials feel that the international tournament heightened interest in their enterprise. Next year their 18-hole course on hilly, wooded land 25 miles from Paris will be inaugurated, along with France's first pitch-and-putt nine-hole links. Rochefort also expects to introduce night golf on the pitch-and-putt.
Topping it all, the ruling bodies of golf, pleased with the handling of the Canada Cup match, have asked the French Golf Federation to organize a new kind of Eisenhower Trophy match, this one for women. The French have agreed eagerly, and women golfers from a score or more of countries are expected to compete October 1-4, 1964 at the Saint-Germain-en-Laye links. Another tangible result has been the city of Grenoble's decision to build France's first municipal golf course. In addition, several other French towns are examining the desirability of establishing their own city links.
How do you say "fore" in French?
THE ABOMINABLE SHOEMAN
Squirrel hunting in Alabama's Coosa Valley, Robert Bearden came across the tracks of a huge foot, 15 inches long, equipped with claws that dug deeply into the ground. Contemplating the inadequacy of his squirrel rifle, Bearden sought heavier armament from a farmer, Coy Holsombeck, who decided the big tracks must have been those of a gorilla. A professor from Alabama College confirmed that they were indeed the spoor of a heavy animal not indigenous to the region. Pretty soon the Coosa Valley was filled with hundreds of heavily armed hunters.
Pete Pickett had wanted the valley, his favorite turkey-hunting ground, to himself. After reading in a Sherlock Holmes story how the hooves of horses were shod to resemble those of cows, Pete equipped himself with imitation gorilla feet and tramped all over the valley. The idea was to scare hunters out of the area—not to bring them in. But that is just what the stratagem did. Now the turkeys are all stirred up by the crowds and Pete is madder than a harried gorilla.
Though it will not be announced until after the teams play their final games, it appears to be definite that the University of Mississippi will face Alabama in this season's Sugar Bowl. As might have been expected, the integration-segregation issue played a part in the selection. Integration lost. New Orleans' bowl officials had wanted Pittsburgh as one of the teams and, since the bowl has no policy against Negroes appearing in the game and its seating policy is now one of integration, it seemed likely that Pitt might accept. But the bowl could guarantee desegregation only in the stadium, none whatever in New Orleans restaurants, theaters and social functions. Rather than embarrass any member of its team, Pitt turned its back on the offer. Good for Pitt.
Good also for Baylor University, which has now decided that any student, white or black, may take part in intercollegiate athletics. Thus Baylor joins the University of Texas and Southern Methodist University in opening sport to all men.
PURELY POUR LE SPORT
The cautious Webster definition of an amateur in sport is "one who is not rated as a professional." Our own definition is that he is one who plays for pleasure, and only pleasure. It is a pleasure to report that, despite the prevalence of scholarships and perquisites, there really are amateurs left in college sport—the University of Buffalo hockey team, for instance.
Buffalo supports teams in 10 sports, but not in hockey. The university has no rink. Even so, some 40 hockey-loving students have put toget her an informal team and have maintained it and a schedule that would have discouraged most young men. They must, for instance, practice in Canada—at Fort Erie, Ontario. Because Canadian teams naturally get preference at the arena, the Buffalo boys usually work out from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Opponents are similarly informal teams from colleges in the Finger Lakes area—Ithaca College, Syracuse University, University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Hobart College and Brockport State.
It is wonderful what can be done without coaches, athletic scholarships, big budgets and press agents.
THERE'LL ALWAYS BE A PUB
Pub crawling hitherto has been an amateur sport, done for the love of it. One went to a pub because it was there. Now the sport has been professionalized. A team of five pros—a tobacco blender, a retired naval commander, an accountant, a former RAF officer and a businessman—have visited 1,152 pubs in the south and southwest of England, including London, and the results of their dedicated research appear in Egon Ronay's 1964 Guide to 600 Pubs (Gastronomes Limited in association with Hutchinson London, 9s. 6d. net). A highly critical lot, they washed out 552 pubs as unworthy of notice.
The guidebook furnishes maps for crawls of pubs classified as London Riverside, Historical, Off Beat, Berkshire Riverside, and, of all things, Sophisticated. It describes characteristics: the Fisherman's Arms, in Cornwall, patronized by shark fishermen; the 800-year-old Trout Inn, two miles northwest of Oxford, to which you can sail for your Guinness; and the White Lion, in Farnborough, Kent, which is co-educational, sort of—it has a woman's skull cemented into the bar wall.
THE LAW AND THE PROFIT
An annoying thing happened to Tony Tamargo on his way to the Tampa dog track. He was stopped for going through a red light. Unjust, fumed Tony, and wrote down the cop's badge number, 336, to use when he fought the case in court. A few hours later he cheerfully presented himself to pay a $10 fine. He had won $272.40 on the daily double by playing 3 and 6, the last two numbers on the badge.
When an Indian village in Alberta was flooded recently, the Royal Canadian Air Force sent in helicopters to rescue the inhabitants. After a while the 'copter pilots began to feel as if they were trying to bail out the sea. Indians, Indians, Indians. Then someone thought to count the number who had been evacuated. It totted up to 30% more than the population. The Indians, exhilarated by the ride, had been paddling back to the village for more flights in the whirlybirds.
THEY SAID IT
•Doug Weaver, Kansas State football coach, after his team beat Iowa State, breaking a 26-game Big Eight losing streak: "We just joined the conference."
•Sonny Liston, heavyweight champion, in a 30-second address before a Waterloo, Iowa, high school student body: "I keep my speeches like my fights, short."
•Charles Finley, Kansas City A's president, on trading baseball players, "If I had a general manager who said anybody was indispensable I'd fire him."
•Don Watchorn, University of Omaha assistant football coach, on organized midget football: "When football is forced down youngsters' throats by adults at such an early age, they become tired of it by the time they should be deriving the most benefits."