AMENDMENT FOR THE FIFTH
Basketball, says John Nucatola, supervisor of officials for the Eastern College Athletic Conference, is the only sport in which a player is permanently banished from a game for his mistakes. Nucatola equates basketball fouls with baseball errors and points out that a baseball shortstop can boot a dozen ground balls and a football lineman can commit any number of violations without getting thumbed out by an official. But in college basketball a player who is guilty of his fifth personal foul is waved to the bench for the rest of the game. This, Nucatola insists, is grossly unfair, and he thinks that something should be done about it.
He has a plan. It is simple enough: when a player commits his fifth personal foul he would remain in the game, the opposing team would get its normal allotment of free throws for the violation and then be awarded possession of the ball out-of-bounds at mid-court. On any subsequent fouls by the same player, the procedure would be repeated.
An informal poll by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED indicates that such highly esteemed basketball men as Pete Newell, former University of California coach, Jack Ramsay of St. Joseph's, Joe Mullaney of Providence College, Fred Taylor of Ohio State and Adolph Rupp of Kentucky feel that Nucatola's idea has merit. The Philadelphia Public Schools League and the State University of New York Athletic Conference have been using it this season, and a majority of the coaches report that they like it, too.
Nucatola thinks that his proposal is worthy of consideration by the men who make the rules and should be given a fair trial on an experimental basis. We agree.
ANYONE FOR GOLF?
We have always felt that both golf and tennis should be in the summer Olympics, because they hold more world interest and have more participants than many other sports. Now it seems most likely that tennis indeed will be on the program at Mexico City in 1968 as a special concession of the International Olympic Committee, which sometimes gives to each host nation the privilege of selecting a particular sport that it would like to see included in the Games. Thus judo was part of the Tokyo Olympics last October. Mexico, you see, has some pretty fine tennis players.
Fine. But how about making tennis a permanent part of the Olympics? And how about golf? More than 20 nations are capable of sending representative amateur golfers to Mexico City, which may be more nations than will have good tennis players. And what a lovely and testing course they would play: Mexico City's lush Club de Golf, one of the world's best!
The most desirable format? That is simple. Four-man teams from each nation to go 72 holes of stroke play. Aggregate totals would determine the medal-winning team; and individual medals could also be given for the three low-scoring players.
Quite aside from the color and interest golf and tennis would add to the Olympic program, both sports would gain immeasurable prestige in the amateur realm.
THE THERAPEUTIC POOL
It is the opinion of A. R. (Red) Barr, swimming coach at Southern Methodist University, that swimming is good for asthma. On the other hand, it may be that asthma is good for swimming. Three of SMU's best swimmers are asthmatics and SMU teams have been Southwest Athletic Conference champions for the last eight years.
"The first time I ever realized that swimming helped asthma was back when I was coaching high school teams in Connellsville, Pa.," Barr said. "I noticed this youngster seemed to swim better on his back than freestyle, and I took him aside. 'You ought to work on that backstroke,' I told him. 'You seem to be stronger at it.' I sure am,' he told me. 'It's the only thing that keeps my asthma down.'
"His senior year he made high school All-America."
Barr's theory, which needs medical substantiation but certainly seems worth looking into, is that swimming "forces you to use those muscles way down deep in the diaphragm to take in air."
"When an asthmatic is swimming with his face in the water," says Barr, "and he comes up for breath, he's really got to grab for it and get it."
An English firm with the unlikely name of Taps, Pourers and Injectors, Ltd. has designed a dinghy that can be sailed indoors and is looking forward to marketing it in about six months. It is meant to be used as a sailing trainer, pretty much as the Link Trainer has been used to school aviation pilots on the ground.
The dinghy is 12 feet long with a Fairey Firefly hull in which two persons can sit and steer and control their sails exactly as they would afloat, though the boat does not actually move about the room but is supported on a heavy steel base. An instructor sits behind the pilot at an electronic console from which he can heel the boat up to an angle of 50°, turn it through a full circle at varying speeds and even give it a weather or lee helm. Large blowers, also operated from the console, blast air at the dinghy from any direction the instructor selects.
A landlubber can thus be taught to tack, reach, run, round a buoy, cope with squalls, heave to, pick up a mooring, land on a beach and generally become an efficient sailor—without ever venturing onto the water.
The dinghy cuts training time drastically, in part because it operates regardless of the weather outside and because specific conditions of wind and water can be reproduced time and again. British skeptics already have been quieted by the fact that one 12-year-old took out a yacht alone after only five hours of instruction.
It seemed a reasonably safe proposition that young Rick Dayoub offered his father, Richard, safety director for the 29th Air Division at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base near Kansas City, Mo. If Rick scored 20 points for his Ruskin, Mo. high school basketball team against Grandview High, would his father give him a new automobile? After all, Rick pointed out, his season's scoring average was just under 10 points a game and he had never scored more than 14. Dad agreed.
The elder Dayoub had some uneasy moments when Rick, shooting better than he ever had, ran up 18 points with two minutes still to play. Then Bob Brown, Ruskin coach, pulled his starters and Dad Dayoub breathed easier.
But down on the bench Rick was arguing earnestly with the coach. The coach sent him back into the game, where Rick grabbed a rebound and went up for an easy layup just before the gun.
Two days later Rick and a wiser father went shopping for a car. Minnesota Fats would have been proud of you, Rick.
THE NEW TRADITION (CONT.)
Since it means less work and more money it is not surprising that most professional golfers seem to favor the change in format of the U.S. Golf Association Open. For those who came in late, both the Open and the Amateur will now be played as four-day, 72-hole, stroke-play competitions. The Open used to be a three-day affair, with 36 holes played on the final day. The Amateur used to be conducted as match play. The changes were made to accommodate television, and both violate long and honorable traditions of the sport.
But the opinion of the pros is not unanimous. Gene Sarazen has raised an objection. "I feel that the final 36-hole grind in the Open is a great part of golf," he said last week. "It's a great test of skill and stamina. That's why the Open championship has always been the great event that it is."
Precisely. One has only to look back to Ken Venturi's stirring victory in the withering heat of Washington. It would not have been the triumph it was if Ken had had a night's rest between his final two rounds. He proved himself the champion he is by playing superlative golf under the most trying and difficult circumstances. Chances are we will never see the like of it again.
It is not so long since, in commenting on a disgraceful riot at New York's Roosevelt Raceway during which disappointed twin double gamblers tried to burn down the track, we predicted that more such incidents were inherent in a concept that "reduces horse-race betting to the level of a lottery" (SI, Nov. 18, 1963). Incident II has now occurred. At Bowie Race Course in Maryland there was a loud disturbance after a lame horse, Caterpillar, was properly scratched just before a race and thereby left some 851 twin double tickets on the other half of his entry, Whip 'n Blinkers, a rank outsider who ran an expected sixth.
The trouble with the twin double is that it was conceived in greed and breeds greed. It has little attraction for sportsmen. It has approximately the quality of the numbers game. It is beneath the dignity of horse racing. But it does increase the track's handle and thereby the profit of the track and of the state, which derives income from the track. It is beloved of politicians. That is the sole reason for its existence.
Now, as a result of the Bowie incident, the Maryland Racing Commission has abolished the twin double at Bowie, at Laurel and at Pimlico. We congratulate the commission on its hindsight.
NEARING THE WALL
During the early days of January, Bobby Hull of the Chicago Black Hawks seemed a cinch to become the first man to vault hockey's highest wall—the 50-goal season. Then he slumped and was held scoreless for 21 long periods. Now Bobby is back in the scoring column. He finally got his 38th goal last Saturday and has 21 games left to score 13 goals and thereby surpass the record he holds jointly with Maurice Richard and Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion. It is interesting to note that he is 10 games ahead of his own pace of 1961-62 and nine ahead of Geoffrion's in 1960-61. (Richard got his 38th goal in the 35th game in 1944-45 when the schedule was only 50 games.)
Tommy Ivan, general manager of the Hawks, complained last week that the opposition is constantly fouling Hull, thus deterring him from scoring. There is truth in this, but the other side of the coin is that this almost total concentration on Hull is helping the rest of the Hawks to score. While Hull was in his slump his mates collected an average of nearly four goals per game. Four goals win a lot of hockey games.
Last weekend only seven points separated the first four teams in the National Hockey League. Leaning heavily on Hull while his mates score is a policy that soon will be junked out of necessity. The next two weeks should tell whether he can top that 50, if he recovers quickly from a knee injury, because he probably will be getting more elbow room as the teams fight for position. As everyone knows, Bobby never has needed much elbow room.
We are always pleased to report on college athletes who achieve top grades, even though it is by no means news that many of them do. The satisfaction derives from the destruction of one more stereotype.
The case of Bill Backensto, leading scorer on the University of Toledo's basketball team, is a puzzler, though. He is a sophomore in the university's College of Engineering, and he is making straight A's in such formidable subjects as calculus, psychology, economics and political science. His cumulative average is 3.84 out of a possible 4.00. Where he falls down is in physical education. His first-semester mark: a miserable B.
THEY SAID IT
•Danny O'Connell, retiring coach of the Washington Senators, recalling a game in which he hit three triples off the Phillies' Robin Roberts, earning him a record-book citation along with 33 others: "Roberts and I talk about it every time I see him; I usually bring it up."
•Eddie Arcaro, on how he keeps his weight down to a mere 10 pounds over his riding weight: "I worry it off; I'm president of an insurance company."
•Demosthenes Konstandies Andrecopolous, alias Dee Andros, Oregon State football coach: "I dropped the Greek spelling long ago; I could never remember how to spell it myself."