GIVING IT A COLLEGE TRY
This summer the athletic department of Ohio State University will spend its own money to conduct an unusual experimental program that merits close attention from communities everywhere. Using OSU facilities and coaches, the athletic department is offering to instruct boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 17 in any one of five sports—track, gymnastics, basketball, swimming and wrestling.
"The needy will have the highest priority," Athletic Director Richard Larkins says. "But as of now we think we can take care of whatever number registers [perhaps as many as 6,000], and our football and basketball programs are going to pay for it. We'll use athletic receipts. I'm very excited about the idea, mostly because nobody is forcing us to do it."
The program, which will run from June 24 through August 14, will offer two-or three-hour sessions in each sport five days a week. Assisting the OSU coaches will be approximately 70 teenage instructors, many of them Ohio State students.
Larkins is looking realistically at the hazards of the plan. "I could wake up with a nightmare," he says, "but I don't think so. This is not a program to solve the ills of society. It is not designed specifically for Negroes. It is a program for youth. We'll take a hard look at the program when it's over. But if you start now thinking of reasons not to do something, you'll never get anything done. One thing I do know is that kids who are shooting baskets aren't shooting guns. If we open doors for them they won't be breaking them down."
When some of us were much younger and drank sodas after sandlot baseball games the kids who did not hit, or could not hit, always came in for the most abuse. Remember, "He's got a swing like a rusty gate"? or "The game's no fun if you look at two and only swing at one"? Then there was that other line, "He can't hit his weight." At the end of last week some of baseball's best known names were entering the second month of the season in a state of virtual weightlessness.
One of the individual's rare conquests in the spirit vs. the system battle is occurring in Munich where the 1972 Olympic Games complex will be constructed around a church that has been built by hand by an 87-year-old Russian hermit, Father Timofey Prokorov. Fleeing in front of the Russian army, Father Timofey and a companion, who is known as Sister Natasha, arrived in Munich in 1945 and asked city authorities for a loan of a plot of land, no matter how un-arable or inaccessible. They were offered a barren 3,500-square-meter plot near a dump of rubble.
Within a few seasons Father Timofey had cherry, apple, apricot and pear trees bearing fruit. His potato patch was excellent, and his sunflowers were doing nicely. Beehives were set among the tulips and lilacs. And gradually buildings began to grow, too: first a small hut, then a tiny chapel crowned with an onion-shaped steeple, then another hut and finally the church itself, which astonished experts now consider a true work of primitive art. Its onion-shaped steeples are fashioned of wire and burlap, the Russian crosses topping them are of lattice wood, and the bells that chime three times a day are iron girders suspended on wire. Inside, the multivaulted ceiling is surfaced with aluminum foil and studded with chandeliers. Numerous decorations give the impression of gay Byzantine wealth.
Three months ago city officials ordered that the land be cleared to make way for the Olympic stadiums. But the architect chosen to draw the plans for the complex heard of the hermitage and went to visit Father Timofey. Struck by the sincerity of the man and impressed with the artistic value of the church, he revised the original plans—which would have made the church site a parking lot. The small huts where the two aged people live will be replaced by more comfortable, Russian-style houses. But the chapel and church will remain just as they are and will certainly rank as a major Olympic attraction.
WHO'S NO. 1?
For 15 years the San Dieguito (Calif.) Junior Chamber of Commerce has held an annual frog-jumping contest. But the good old days when frog owners spent months training their entries are no more. Instead the C of C has to provide a Rent-a-Frog service—50¢ apiece plus a $1 deposit. All you can hope is that your Rent-a-Frog tries harder.
Racetrackers are always talking about the improvement of the breed, of their horses, of course, but they are also looking for some good young blood among horseplayers. A number of surveys have shown that the average age of racetrack patrons is over 40. Now Roosevelt Raceway is hoping a new gimmick will change all that. Using Operation Match, a computerized dating service, the raceway is offering to provide compatible dates for its single patrons. The service, which is free, is to be tried for the first time on June 6, Sadie Hawkins Night. Anyone interested in finding a winning combination must fill out a questionnaire, which will be used to help determine socially suitable couples. The two people selected as the "ideal match" will be given a serenaded hayride around the raceway and a free weekend at Grossinger's in the Catskills.
Hopefully, the computer will pick winners better than racetrackers do.
OPEN TO SUGGESTION
Now that open tennis is a reality, you may have wondered what will become of the Davis Cup. Sentiment is apparently growing to make it open, too. The matter will be seriously discussed at the Council of Davis Cup Nations meeting in London on July 4.
Dwight Davis, who donated the trophy for the competition 68 years ago, made no stipulations that it always be an amateur-only affair. "I would prefer the Cup be for amateurs," his son Dwight Jr. says, "but times have changed and it is up to the 68 competing nations to decide."
Europeans are predicting an open Davis Cup within two years. Jean Borotra, France's preeminent tennis official, apparently favors the change and there are indications that Australia's Harry Hop-man may be having second thoughts about open matches. If professionals are allowed to compete in the Cup, Hop-man can pick the Australian team from a field that now includes Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle, Tony Roche and John New-combe. It is hardly surprising that he finds this list appetizing.
MEASURING UP AND UP
Such strides have been made in track and field that athletes merely seeking to qualify for the Mexico City Olympics must turn in better performances than 15 of 18 gold-medal winners did at the 1948 London Games. Each nation may have one entry, regardless of performance, in track and field events, but if a country wants to be represented by a second or third athlete, he or she must meet certain standards.
Only three of the minimum standards remain the same as they were just four years ago—the javelin throw (252'7¾"), the long jump (24'11¼") and the 200 meters (21 seconds). All the others have been made more demanding—the 100 meters is now 10.3 (or 9.4 for 100 yards); the 400 meters, 46.8 (or 47.1 in the 440); the 800 meters, 1:48 (or 1:48.6 in the 880); the 1,500 meters, 3:42 (or a four-minute mile); the 5,000 meters, 13:50; the 10,000 meters, 29:00; the 3,000-meter steeplechase, 8:45; the 110-meter hurdles, 14.1; the 400-meter hurdles, 51.0; (or 51.3 in the 440); the high jump, 6'10¼"; the triple jump, 52'6"; the pole vault, 15'9"; the shotput, 60'4¼"; the discus throw, 187'; the hammer throw, 209'11"; and the decathlon, 7,200 points. These are the standards required to enter the preliminary round at Mexico City. To qualify for the actual Olympic competition in the field events an athlete must register still better marks.
Among the gold-medal winners at the 1948 Games who would not have qualified under this year's added-entry standards on their performances in London are Mel Patton in the 200 meters (21.1), Malvin Whitfield in the 800 (1:49.2), Henry Eriksson in the 1,500 (3:49.8), John Winter in the high jump (6'6") and Guinn Smith in the pole vault (14'1¼").
LEARNING THE ROPES
More than a decade ago a group of elementary school students from a Paris suburb was taken to the Alps for a month of skiing, along with their regular teachers. They spent the mornings on the ski slopes and the afternoons in a chalet classroom. The pioneer school was such a success that the idea snowballed, and now each winter more than 10,000 French children study and ski for four weeks in the mountains.
This spring two Paris schools are experimenting with seaside classes on the coast of Brittany. Fifty-three boys, age 12 to 14, most of them children of working-class parents, are learning to sail. The cost to parents is only $5.50 a week with the government paying for the rest of the program. Many of the boys had never seen the sea before, much less a sailboat, and a dozen of them had to learn to swim before qualifying for the trip.
Each boy has a boat, and there is a sailing instructor for every four or five boys. "The boys have never worked as hard or as well in Paris as they do here," one of their teachers remarked. "Their examinations are first-rate now." In addition, to their normal classwork ("Transform the following kilometers per hour into knots...."), the students are learning to fish, sew sails, and dry and classify seaweed. Public school sea classes may be the wave of the future.
At a convention last winter of the College Sports Information Directors of America, familiarly known as COSIDA, a member got up and asked advice on how to handle a certain request for brochures, game programs and all other material on his teams and coaches. "I don't know why he picked our college," the school publicist added, "but he does say he thinks we're the greatest."
Someone asked: "Is this young fellow from Corvallis, Ore.?"
"Why, yes, how did you know?"
Another member jumped up and said with assurance: "Jim Ligon."
"That's right, but I don't understand," the first speaker said.
"Let's have a show of hands from anyone here who has received a similar request from Jim Ligon," suggested still another publicist. All hands were raised.
Comparing notes, the directors discovered that each of them had received carefully worded requests on yellow, ruled notebook paper in longhand.
Young Jim Ligon, a junior at Corvallis High, admits to his hobby. The son of an English professor at Oregon State, he has in seven years accumulated 2,500 photos and 4,068 programs and brochures, mostly on football and basketball. And although in his letters he tells each school publicity man his team is the greatest, his real loves are Oregon State and Oregon.
Now COSIDA is considering creating an annual Jim Ligon Award, to be given to the school that exceeds its postage budget by the biggest margin.
THEY SAID IT
•Sonny Liston, declaring that if he had to do it over again he would never be a boxer: "I'd like being a doctor or a lawyer. The doctor and the lawyer still get paid, no matter what. A doctor can kill you, he still gets paid. A lawyer can let you get put in jail for 20 years, he still gets paid. There's no way those guys can lose."
•O. A. (Bum) Phillips, San Diego Charger assistant coach, on the number of football game films he watches in a season: "If you could lose weight in your eyeballs, I'd drop 30 pounds."
Mike Epstein (Wash.)
Deron Johnson (Atl.)
George Scott (Bost.)
John Roseboro (Minn.)
Tommie Agee (Mets)
Norm Cash (Det.)
Tom Tresh (Yankees)
Bill Mazeroski (Pitts.)