PROPOSITION FROM THE PROS
The commendable decision of Pete Rozelle, National Football League commissioner, to end premature signing of college football players by NFL teams was a fine stroke of public relations. It is an unconditional declaration that will become part of the NFL constitution and nullify any contract signed before the end of the college season, or even before bowl games. And it leaves Rozelle's American Football League counterpart, Joe Foss, standing out in the rain of denunciation that has fallen since the practice was exposed. Foss put up a countershower of words that are meaningless, refusing to commit the AFL until there is a tripartite meeting of AFL, NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He knows that Rozelle will not consent to such a meeting.
Obviously, if Foss continues to ignore independently the cease-and-desist plea of the NCAA, the NFL could lose some of next year's draft choices to the junior league. Rozelle knew that as well as anyone and, for the good of the game, proved himself willing to take the chance.
As for Foss, he has used words before. It is only four years since he gave his word to the NCAA that he would void such untimely contracts. He has yet to void No. 1.
Rozelle, meanwhile, is oddly criticized by the NFL Players Association, which seeks to unseat him. With the woozy explanation that Rozelle has not represented the players "as we feel we should be represented," Bernie Parrish, vice-president of the association and a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns, called for Rozelle's replacement by Paul Brown, former coach of the Browns.
These are the same players who, to enrich their pension fund (to which they contribute nothing), recently proposed that the league championship be decided on the basis of two games out of three—a scheme that, what with the excessive proliferation of bowl games, both professional and amateur, could easily set back the advance of professional football by several years. The game should keep its fans hungry, never fully satiated.
It is one game that should not be given back to the boys.
THE ELUSIVE BUCK
For those who failed to get their deer this past season there may be consolation in statistics released by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission. When only bucks were legal targets, 26.38 hunter-days were taken to kill each animal. Even when does also were legal, the average time per deer harvested was 8.24 hunter-days.
COLO SCIENTIFIC PROOF
Many a curler has flipped his tam-o'-shanter at the suggestion that no real good is accomplished by having players furiously sweep the ice in front of the 44-pound stone as it glides toward its mark. Sheer vain display, some uninitiates have held, while others have urged that sweeping was invented as a device to add a spurious air of excitement to what is essentially a dull game.
The scoffers may now consider themselves refuted. During the recent Tournament of Champions bonspiel in Toronto, a machine known as the Werlich Whirlitzer expelled a succession of stones onto the ice, each with equal velocity. The experiment confirmed what curlers have always insisted. Stones that had the benefit of sweeping traveled farther, sometimes as much as 12 feet, than those that were left on their own.
GOLD STRIKE IN GREENWICH
It is just possible, muses Robert V. Behr, track coach at Tower Hill School, Wilmington, Del., that there is much undiscovered track and field talent in the U.S.
While visiting Greenwich, Conn. during the holidays he found himself in cocktail-party conversation with an attractive young matron, Mrs. Terry Ives.
"I used to high-jump in boarding school," Mrs. Ives said casually. Her best jump? Oh, 5 feet 6.
Skeptical, but diplomatic, Coach Behr said, "That's very good, but don't you mean four-six?"
"Oh, no," she answered. "I know it was five-six because it was an inch over my head, and I haven't grown any taller in the last eight years."
After a calming swig of eggnog, the coach pointed out that such a jump would easily have qualified Mrs. Ives for the Olympic and Pan-American teams. At Melbourne in 1956 Mildred McDaniel of the U.S. did a winning 5 feet 9¼, but the next best American girl did only 5 feet 2½. In Rome in 1960 our best girl, Neomia Rogers, jumped only 5 feet 5. The winning Pan-Am jump in 1959 was a mere 5 feet 3¼.
Mrs. Ives did her jumping at Stoneleigh-Prospect Hill School in Greenfield, Mass. Neither she nor her physical education instructor realized that there was anything extraordinary about it.
Shortly before the cocktail party Mrs. Ives suggested to her husband that they build a high jump in their backyard so she could exercise at the only sport in which she had ever excelled. Her husband laughed. Now Coach Behr is urging that she take up high-jumping again. Unfortunately, her husband is still laughing.
Coaching basketball is an emotional business and some coaches prepare for sessions of high drama and deep trauma by bringing along tension-relievers. Bob King, University of New Mexico coach, favors a small towel, which he finds excellent for wrenching, clenching, brow-mopping, signaling and general all-round agonized floor-slapping. It is red, in honor of the school's cherry-and-silver colors.
New Mexico had a feeble basketball history before King took over, but he took his towel to his first game at the university and the team won. He brought it to every subsequent game that season and, to everyone's delight and surprise, the Lobos had a fine 16-9 record.
King clung to the towel again last year, which, at 23-6, was even better. The team was co-champion of the Western Athletic Conference and won its way into the finals of the National Invitational Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
King wrung the little red towel in this season's opener and the Lobos won again. Then a terrible thing happened. On a trip to play Kansas he left the towel in his luggage. New Mexico lost. After that Mrs. King made sure he carried the towel to all games, and New Mexico won 11 straight.
The towel is not washed after victories. After all those wins, its power seems stronger than ever.
REVERSION TO TYPE
During his days in the International Hockey League, Willie Papp was a pretty fair player. Then, six seasons ago, he traded his stick for a whistle and developed into a top referee in the Western Hockey League. The old longing to play remained, though, and this year, on his days off from officiating, Papp skated back into action in an amateur circuit in Vancouver, B.C., where he lives.
He still had the scoring touch, too—eight goals in his first three games. But the rest of his behavior on the ice was eyebrow-raising in another way—for a referee, that is. In his third game he was penalized first for boarding and then for charging. Finally, he drew a match penalty and was thrown out of the game for fighting.
ISOS OUT AT ARKANSAS
For some time Trainer Bill Ferrell of the University of Arkansas has been suspicious of isometric exercises for such athletes as football players (SI, March 2, 1964). Now he believes he has proof that his suspicions are correct.
During the 1962 and 1963 seasons the university's football team succumbed to the craze for isometrics, in which pressure is applied to immovable objects; the muscle remains stationary and in full contraction. In those two years 14 Arkansas football players had to undergo knee surgery, whereas the previous average had been one or two a season. Taking this into account, Ferrell ruled out isometrics as of November 1963. There has not been a "surgical knee" since. Only two of the 25 regulars in the two platoons missed a game through injury in Arkansas' 11-0 season of 1964.
"The isometrics build pretty, bulging muscles fast," Ferrell explained, "but you also get a shortening of the tendon that ties the muscle and bone together at the knee. That shortens the range of the joint. When the knee has to give, as it does in football, it can't."
But for the sedentary nonathlete, he added, isometrics is still great.
NO WAY TO DUCK
The federal law against luring ducks and geese into range with grain was designed for a good purpose, but its functioning leaves something to be desired. In Maryland, for instance, commercial camp owners frequently dump corn or other grains into waters around their blind sites. This is not illegal. It is only illegal to shoot over such baited water. More than a few unsuspecting hunters at commercially-operated blinds are fined every year, and some lose licenses. The camp owners usually go unscathed.
There are other hazards. Last month three Anne Arundel County officials and their guide were brought to court for gunning over 17 kernels of corn. There were 80 harvested acres of legal corn behind the blind and 800 bushels lying on the ground. Raccoon tracks were found near the blind, and raccoons carry their food to water to wash it. Raccoons or not, the men were fined a total of $275.
"Under the law," says Federal Warden Lawrence Thurman Jr., "it is the hunter's responsibility to check around any blind for bait before he starts shooting." Even that may not avail. Thurman concedes that it is not always possible to spot bait, since diving ducks can be lured into range by strewing corn on the bottom in 30 feet of water, where no human eye can detect it.
Possible solutions: let the shooter take 1) a scuba outfit with him or 2) money.
The nation's first television station devoted almost exclusively to sports is now operating in Detroit. It may be the first of several that Henry J. Kaiser—a big man in aluminum, gypsum, Hawaiian lodgings and such—is building or planning. Except for the two hours between 4 and 6 p.m., when one of those teen-age dance band shows is presented, the station confines its coverage to Red Wings hockey, college basketball, high school basketball, swimming and wrestling. Its managers are contemplating shows on skiing, boating and even roller skating. Some shows are live, some are taped, but all have to do with sports.
This emphasis is something of an accident but at the moment seems to be a happy one. John A. Serrao, general manager, had first planned to present old movies but discovered that these would cost him $900 an hour, whereas sports shows could be done for two-thirds that. Audience interest appears to be good, though the station, WKBD-TV, is ultrahigh frequency, instead of the very high frequency most of us are used to, and there are only 350,000 UHF sets in the area. However, since last May 1 every TV set made in the U.S. has been required by law to be equipped to receive UHF transmissions. WKBD-TV, observing that 500 new sets are being sold daily in its market area, anticipates a steadily growing audience.
Another Kaiser UHF station is abuilding near Philadelphia, and permits have been issued for others in Los Angeles and San Francisco. If the sports trend is sustained, every day may be like New Year's Day.
PURSE-PROUD AND POOR
Sunland Park is a cozy racetrack in southern New Mexico near the Texas border. To boost attendance, which never goes much beyond 6,500, it caters to visiting conventions. Sunland purses are named after these groups, and sometimes the names get a bit unwieldy on the program. For instance, there have been the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 554 Purse and the National Association of Refrigerated Warehouses Purse, not to mention the Officers' Wives Club of the Low Altitude Missile Department of Fort Bliss Purse.
Now comes one that is short and apt: the International Coin Club Purse, which Sunland's press agent describes as "a toss-up."
THEY SAID IT
•Jack Hurley, fight manager: "I've had more operations than any human being alive. I had 27 sinus operations, and now they say you shouldn't have any. That's how they found out."
•Mickey Rooney, recalling the advice of partner Arnold Palmer after he kept topping the ball on every shot: "He told me to wear lower heels."