The special violence of soccer crowds in countries with cultures as dissimilar as those of Brazil and Turkey, Germany and Peru is a mystery that Britain's Minister for Sport is trying to solve with the aid of a psychiatrist. He has his job cut out for him.
It has even happened here—at Yankee Stadium this past summer—in a country where soccer generally does not induce a rapid pulse. Ethnic factors accounted for that one, to be sure, but nothing remotely involving racial or national differences could explain what occurred on a recent Sunday in the city of Kayseri, Turkey during a game between the home team and longtime rivals from nearby Sivas. A disputed goal brought out pistols, knives and broken bottles. Final score: 41 dead, 67 injured among the 30,000 spectators. Two weeks previously, in Bolu, one spectator was killed and three were injured. A week later, in Afyon, 13 were hurt.
The rumble at Kayseri might be explained as the culmination of an ancient rivalry between the two cities, rather more bitter than that between, say, Harvard and Yale. But it was only the second worst such incident in soccer history, by no means as dreadful as the riot three years ago in Lima, Peru, where more than 300 fans were killed and some 1,000 injured.
Soccer riots are so prevalent that the digging of moats, as at Brasilia's new stadium, is a commonplace protection for players and officials in some countries. In Germany, many soccer clubs have surrounded their playing fields with fences six to eight feet high. But moats and fences are no certain protection. Several years ago in Naples fans used advertising signs to span the moat separating them from the referee and the winning Modena eleven. And it is not unusual for Italian referees to carry pistols.
For all this there are explanations of a sort. Professor Francesco Ferraroti, Rome University sociologist, holds that the rioting may arise because "the fans are passive." (But spectators at all sports are passive.) "Their frustration when the heroes they identify with are being 'robbed' gives rise to a mob psychology that I think is quite similar to the lynching psychology," he said. "The fan's identification with the hero becomes morbid."
So far, Britain's investigator, Dr. John Harrington, psychiatrist, has detected such peculiarities as signs of "hypnotic trance" and "frightening aggression" in soccer fans, but, he adds, soccer fans in Britain generally get rid of their aggressions with bad language.
BETTER THAN A MANGER
During the World Series games to be played in St. Louis, hotel accommodations will be hard to come by in the city and for many miles around.
But there is hope. The Meramec Caverns, 60 miles from Busch Stadium, are available and, it is said, can take care of from 600 to 800 persons without difficulty, if they don't mind sleeping communally on cots. There are certain advantages to be gained by staying in the caves, too. The temperature is a constant 60°, and there is no pollen in the air, which is why hay-fever sufferers have long used the caverns.
DOWN UNDER AND WAY OUT
In the red outback country of central Australia the citizens of Alice Springs dutifully held their annual regatta on the Todd River, an event that would not be particularly noteworthy except that the Todd had not had a drop of water in it for 18 months. Before that the riverbed had been dry for eight years.
But, no matter, come September the Henley-on-Todd Regatta takes place. Skiffs, sloops and shells are brought down to the riverbank, crews clamber into them, sails are hoisted and the various events are hotly (in temperatures of 100° ) contested. The boats, it should be explained, are all bottomless, their hulls powered from one end of the course to the other on the hairy legs of their crews.
Some 3,000 spectators lined the banks of the Todd this year and cheered and cheered (more than 2,000 quart bottles of beer were consumed). The feature event of the day was the Australia's Cup, which pitted an approximation of an American 12-meter yacht against an Australian sloop of the same dubious class. The U.S. entry, named the Insipid, was manned by Americans who operate what is said to be a weather station in Alice Springs. (The windows of the station are bricked up, which suggests that whatever they watch, it isn't the weather.) The Australian boat, the Sir Bob, was named in honor of Dame Pattie's husband, Sir Robert Menzies.
The Americans won in a walk, so to speak, just as they did the following week in Newport, R.I. The Australia's Cup, it turned out, was a dry run for the America's Cup.
When the game of parlor psychiatry is played the players often compare the personalities of cat owners with those of cats and the personalities of dog owners with dogs. Felinophiles are supposedly sedentary and vain; caninophiles, active and waggish.
What does the old pro of applied psychology—the pet food salesman—think about this? Well, the Ralston Purina folks have come up with a number of fascinating contests this season, and naturally they would want to offer prizes that probe the inner yearnings of their customers.
So, for the grand prize of one of their dog food sweepstakes, they offer a 25-foot cabin cruiser, plus water skis, snorkels and picnic equipment.
The appeal of the cat food sweepstakes is altogether different. Its top inducement: "A Norman Rockwell portrait of you and your cat," along with such incidentals as a trip to Manhattan and Nassau.
SPACE AGE GOLF
There have been brief transpacific telecasts by satellite from Hawaii before, lasting five minutes or so, but the Hawaiian Open Golf Tournament at the Waialae Country Club, to be held Nov. 4 and 5, will be the first complete sports event ever to be transmitted via the Lani Bird satellite from the 50th state to the other 49.
This technological development has brought about a change that may seem strange. To bring the tournament into the eastern U.S. at what is considered the proper time to telecast golf—6 to 7 p.m. E.S.T. for the first day of televised play and 6 to 7:30 p.m. for the final round—the National Broadcasting Company had to have an early starting time in Hawaii. As a result, the regular front and back nine holes will be reversed to keep the sun behind the cameras.
Though its claim to being the world's largest bookmaking firm is disputed by the rival William Hill organization, Ladbroke's, which has the Duke of Windsor among its betting clients, is by no means a minor operation. Its annual turnover is $100 million.
Last week Britons had a chance to own a piece of the action. Ladbroke's went public, offering 1,350,000 shares of its stock at 10 shillings each. It was oversubscribed by almost 100 times, with 60.000 would-be investors sending in purchase applications for more than 120 million shares.
The speculation in the public houses of London was that most of the subscribers were horse players trying to live on what they lose.
There is a limit to what even computers can do, and it has now been reached. Radio Station WIND in Chicago, and others about the country, are trying, by means of a computer imported from Dayton, to figure out whether Joe Louis would have beaten Muhammad Ali or Jack Dempsey would have stopped them both. In effect, they are conducting their own heavyweight elimination tournament.
Data was fed into the computer—an NCR 315—from fight experts and films, including evaluations of punching power, stamina, defensive skills, specific punches against specific weaknesses and so on and on and on.
In the first bout of the tournament Dempsey faced Jim Corbett. WIND broadcast the fight, complete with crowd noises and a blow-by-blow description. Dempsey won every one of the first six rounds, then knocked out Corbett in the seventh, using a left and a right to the head. The computer said Dempsey was just too strong for the slimmer, high-style boxer that was Corbett.
On Nov. 6 Dempsey must fight the winner of a recent match between John L. Sullivan and Jimmy Braddock, which, to no one's amazement, Sullivan won. There will be six other matches, including, on Oct. 30, Muhammad Ali versus Max Schmeling.
TEEN-AGER'S BIG DAY
At age 16 Craig Perret is one of the youngest jockeys in the country, and at 95 pounds he must be among the very lightest. He also has come to be one of the most acclaimed.
One recent Wednesday, at Chicago's Hawthorne racetrack, he had no mount in the first race, but finished first in the second, third, fourth and fifth events, was third in the sixth and came back to win the seventh. One of his mounts, Tinker Tom in the second race, paid $54.80 for $2.
Such success is not particularly new for this teen-ager. He led all riders at the Balmoral meeting, was second at Arlington, but was having a slump at Hawthorne when his big day came up.
Though his five winners in six starts was not a record for Hawthorne—Johnny Heckmann had seven for eight back in 1956—it boosted Perret to second place in the jockey standings, behind Walter Blum.
In the wide-open spaces of the American West game of all kinds is in generally plentiful supply—in part because the ratio of hunters to hunted gives the game a chance. Nevada, with a population figure of 4.2 human beings per square mile, especially enjoys this advantage since 86.8% of its 110,540 square miles is owned by the Federal Government—mountain desert rangeland.
That kind of milieu is fine for many kinds of game but not for pheasant, and this year's pheasant season has been reduced drastically. The pheasant can live only in areas which are rich in farm products, points out Gene McDowell of the Nevada Fish and Game Commission, so that normally the commission buys 10,000 pheasants a year from California game breeders, at a cost of $2.50 a bird, and releases them on farms and other private lands where pheasants can live. In return, the ranchers admit the hunters to their lands.
This year the commission contracted as usual for its 10,000 birds. But disaster struck. Disease, probably botulism, caused such extraordinary decimation that the breeder could deliver no birds at all. After a search the commission found one who could spare 4,000.
The result: only a token pheasant season in Lyon County, one of the two best bird-hunting areas in the state. Normally the season runs a full week, but this year it will last from noon to sundown on November 5, with a two-bird limit. A couple of counties that are not very good for pheasant anyway will have four- or five-day seasons. In southern Nevada there will be no season at all.
Indeed, there is a chance that the commission will terminate its pheasant-stocking program for good. The cost of the program is borne by all the people who buy hunting and fishing licenses, but only the few who hunt the bird are benefited.
THEY SAID IT
•Jack Nicklaus, leading money-winning golfer, who hasn't had a haircut since July: "Biggest waste of time in the world is getting a haircut or stopping for gas."
•Gary Beban, UCLA quarterback, telling how his mother puts her hands over her eyes when he is on the field: "At least she gets to see our defensive team."
•Two Ton Tony Galento, now 57, addressing the Eagles Lodge in Spokane: "You guys, you writers, always accused me of being a dirty fighter. I was not. I took showers after every fight, just like everyone."