THE GAINESVILLE PLAN
Under the pressures of college football recruiting, some high school stars have suffered nervous breakdowns and parents have complained that their sons have not been able to study or get proper rest.
None of this is going to happen henceforth at Gainesville (Fla.) High School, which has seen almost 50 graduates get football scholarships in the past 10 years. Jim Niblack, football coach and director of athletics, has laid down some laws:
1) College recruiters will not be permitted to talk to players, either by personal visit or telephone, until after the football season.
2) Players may not visit any college campus during the season, or accept tickets to college games.
3) College alumni are barred from approaching players for recruiting.
4) Summer visits to colleges are not permitted.
The school will, however, provide recruiters with films of spring practice and an assistant coach to discuss prospects. It will also furnish academic grades, dash times and other needed data. But any college violating the rules will be put on a blacklist and aid in evaluating players will be cut off.
The plan has won full approval of players and parents. It has our approval, too. Gainesville High has arrived at a sane and fair solution at the first and most important level where recruiting excesses can be controlled.
A MOUTH BY ANY OTHER NAME
The clownish insolence of the self-styled Muhammad Ali, né Cassius Marcellus Clay, has become a bore. It is time that he changed his act. He is well on his way to becoming the most unpopular heavyweight champion since Jack Johnson.
He has never been so tasteless as on his visit to the training camp of Floyd Patterson, whom he taunted, without a shred of cause, as an "Uncle Tom Negro," as vicious an insult as one Negro can hurl at another.
After winning the championship, Clay announced that he would conduct himself with dignity, asserting that his loudmouth antics were designed solely to win him a title shot and build up a gate. Apparently he overestimated himself.
To measure the annual duck harvest, the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife used to rely heavily on questionnaires sent to hunters. But these turned up several kinds of bias (like bragging) and failure to identify species correctly. In recent years, therefore, the bureau has been sending thousands of big envelopes to selected hunters with a request that they mail back a wing from each duck they kill, along with details as to time and place. This past season 28,000 of these envelopes from all parts of the central flyway accumulated in a freezer in Fort Collins, Colo., there to be sorted by 40 identification experts from the bureau and seven state game departments.
Among their discoveries: several wings from coots, which are not ducks, and one from a turkey, which is not a duck either.
THE WAY IT WAS
As played today, according to Luther Hodges, retired Secretary of Commerce, basketball is sissy stuff compared to what it was like when he was just out of the University of North Carolina.
"Back then [it was 1920]," he said, "they blew the whistle when you began to bleed." He remembered a game he played on a YMCA team against his alma mater. An elbow caught him in the mouth and knocked out a front tooth.
"The whistle didn't blow," he said. "I picked up the tooth off the floor, and the whistle didn't blow. I walked over to the bench and gave it to the one extra player we had, and the whistle didn't blow. It never blew and I had the tooth put back in that night in Durham."
SOME 500-TO-1 SHOTS
As he has been doing for the past several years, Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder has forwarded to us from his Las Vegas office his winter-book line on the major league baseball pennant races. It is based on man-to-man wagering and does not represent what would be offered by a Las Vegas sports book. Here it is.
National League: Los Angeles 3 to 1; Philadelphia 7 to 2; St. Louis 4 to 1; San Francisco 4 to 1; Cincinnati 5 to 1; Milwaukee 30 to 1; Pittsburgh 30 to 1; Chicago 100 to 1; Houston 500 to 1; New York 500 to 1.
American League: New York 2 to 1; Baltimore 5 to 2; Chicago 4 to 1; Minnesota 8 to 1; Detroit 15 to 1; Cleveland 25 to 1; Los Angeles 25 to 1; Boston 35 to 1; Washington 300 to 1; Kansas City 500 to 1.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. proudly reports in a publicity release that "J.J. Jones, the jailer of Knox County, Tennessee, found that out of 10,000 inmates less than 2% had owned fishing or hunting licenses."
SPORTSMAN OF THE CENTURY
Sir Winston Churchill's favorite sport was horse racing. One day he went to watch one of his horses run at a London track. After a long struggle in the stretch, it finished third, beaten by less than a length. The crowd was disappointed, but Sir Winston, his cheeks pink with excitement, turned to a companion and said, "We ran a grand race, didn't we?"
Yes, we did. To the very end.
THE UNQUIET MAN
The most exciting moments in football, it would seem, are not made so by touchdowns. Punts, punt returns, passes and long runs surpass them by far, according to experiments conducted at the University of Nebraska on the subject of "excitement tachycardia."
The doctors asked 10 men ranging in age from 25 to 63 to share their emotions with electronic monitors as they watched a Nebraska football game. Their rates of pulse, respiration and sweat, as well as electrocardiograph reaction, were taken down and examined play by play. In one five-minute period the pulse of a former coach, who was serving as a spectator subject, jumped by 46, then plunged 35, went down another 15, then went up 23 on this sequence of plays: 1) an intercepted pass: 2) a point after touchdown; 3) a kickoff return; 4) a home-team punt return.
All of which got the doctors so excited that they warned that emotional involvement in a sporting event may be dangerous to persons who have "a prior heart condition."
QUICK, IZAAK WALTON, THE NEEDLE
Sporting goods stores in Wisconsin are now selling hypodermic needles to lake trout fishermen and the needles are saving the lives of young trout brought up from the depths of Green Lake.
The lake is as deep as 220 feet, and lakers like to lie near the bottom. When a fish is brought up from such depths, the air in its bladder expands. This does not matter if the trout is of legal length (17 inches), but if it is smaller and must be returned to the water it dies because the inflated air bladder will not let it swim down to its accustomed haunts. Solution: slip a hypodermic needle (without the syringe) through the fish's belly into the bladder. The air hisses out. The trout can then head for home. Some young trout have been needled three and four times.
DUROCHER IN PANTOMIME
It had been a long time since Leo Durocher had encountered Umpire Babe Pinelli. They met at the Willie Mays testimonial dinner in San Francisco and The Lip was moved to recall the first time he had ever been nonplussed on a ball field.
"It was a terrible call at first base in the Brooklyn ball park one day," he said. "Our guy was safe by two yards. The crowd started to holler, 'Leo, Leo.... ' So I trot out to Pinelli and I scream, 'What the blank is the matter with you? He was safe by 12 yards.' And the Babe whispers back to me, 'Yeah, Leo, wasn't that an awful decision?' Well, I'm speechless. What can I do or say? So I make a few gestures at him and ask him out for dinner that night, and he points his finger under my nose and accepts, and I trot back to the bench and the Brooklyn crowd hollers, 'Attaboy, Leo, you told that mole where to find a hole.' "
Hours in a swimming pool were prescribed for Senator Ted Kennedy's injured back and now hours in a pool hall have been prescribed for the slipped disk of Dean Francisco, San Francisco pharmacist. He slipped a disk while dancing, and his orthopedist directed him to shoot pool once a day on the theory that bending across the table will help to realign the spine and the long muscles.
IRON HORSE MIGHTY HUNTER
Deep snow and two months of severe cold have made this winter a disaster for much of Montana's wildlife. Complicating the situation is the fact that deer and antelope have been attracted to the Great Northern Railway's right-of-way because the tracks are kept clear of snow and a certain amount of food is dropped from trains. Trains have killed 250 head of pronghorn antelope in northern Montana. One passenger train plowed through a herd of antelope and killed 74, a bounty for Indians on the Fort Belknap Reservation to whom the meat was given. The antelope kill, said oldtimers, was greater than the Indians ever accomplished by driving the antelope over cliffs in pioneer days.
THE WELL-HELMETED JOCKEY
Most Thoroughbred tracks these days pay a premium of $108 a day to Lloyds of London, which, though 118 tracks participate, does not make a fortune on the deal. Insuring jockeys against injury is as risky as betting on them. In 1962, for example, with only 1,300 members in the Jockeys' Guild, Lloyds had to settle 1,305 claims that ranged from a broken finger to death.
Eight years ago, after a boy named Leroy Nelson was killed in a spill at Caliente, John Alessio, proprietor of the track, was moved to confer with Bert Thompson, national managing director and secretary of the Jockeys' Guild. Together they worked out a scheme for promotion of the helmet.
At first jockeys hated the helmet, as baseball players once did. But if Eddie Arcaro, who agreed to wear his only as a personal favor to Thompson, had not had one on when he fell off Black Hills in the 1959 Belmont and landed on his head, he might not be around today to root for its continuance as compulsory equipment.
Since 1958, when the helmet became compulsory in most states, racing deaths have dropped from an average of 4 or 5 a year to 1½. Even so, the Guild is taking care of 10 paraplegics, all of whom receive a monthly check for life and training in a livelihood that will help support them. Two have become certified public accountants under the plan.
A pension plan for jockeys seems to be impossible, since they arc independent contractors, but Thompson persuaded horsemen to boost the fee for a losing mount from $20 to $25. Out of this $5 increase the Guild takes $1 for dues and puts the other $4 into a savings account for each individual jockey. Two years ago, when Ronnie Ferraro won the national title as an apprentice, he had 1,755 mounts. That meant he had saved more than $7,000.
"The idea behind this," said Thompson, "is to keep the jockeys free of obligations. Years ago bookmakers and trainers would lend riders money, and after they'd be well into debt to them they'd want the jockeys to do something funny in a race. Today almost all of our boys are free of any obligations."
And Lloyds is much happier.
THEY SAID IT
•Bob Devaney, Nebraska coach, on the effect of TV commercials on football: "During the Rose Bowl game I thought the White Knight scored the last three touchdowns."
•Tom Gorman, National League umpire, recalling the education of a rookie catcher: "The pitches he wanted as strikes when he was catching we called on him when he was batting."
•Ira (Large) Harge, 6-foot-8 New Mexico basketball star now playing in Spain: "Here in Madrid the players are much shorter and consequently the biggest part of the bruises are to my calves and legs."
•George Kirksey, Houston Astros executive, on fans who do not like the club's name: "If we ever get into the first division, they won't care if we call our team The Anteaters."