PLAYING IT SAFE
Wide-eyed and possibly trapped, National Hockey League owners may have bought themselves more trouble by agreeing to settle the World Hockey Association's monopolistic-practices suit for $1.75 million and other considerations, such as interleague preseason exhibition games. Through its lawyer, Alan Eagleson, the NHL Players' Association may throw a wrench into the deal by refusing to permit its players to engage in the exhibition games, even though the league says it will sweeten the players' pension fund with $150,000. It hardly seems likely that Eagleson will consider the sum adequate compensation for the players' potential loss of power to keep two leagues bidding for their services.
The NHL owners, who left the entire WHA negotiations to their lawyers—League Presidents Clarence Campbell of the NHL and Dennis Murphy of the WHA never met—no doubt consider the settlement the lesser of evils. They have not said so publicly, but they were in no mood to take chances with the suit. At least half of the WHA clubs are in need of immediate infusions of money. Had one or more of them failed before the settlement, the WHA could have used that fact as evidence of restraint of trade and perhaps have won the $16 million suit. With treble damages, this could have amounted to $48 million. Even dealing with Eagleson is cheaper than that.
For years Ohioan Warren Wells has been studying anglers. Now, from his lofty perch as chief naturalist of the Hamilton County Park District, he delivers his opinion: some of the breed are strange fish indeed.
There are the spitters, for instance. They expectorate into the mouth of their first catch, for luck. Not good enough, claim others. For best results you must spit on the bait, not once but three times.
Some fishermen keep a well-stocked goldfish tank handy. If the carp are gorging, the atmosphere is right and stream and lake fish will be biting. Then there is the gravity school. When gravity is drawing the fishes' blood toward their heads, they're not biting; but watch out if the gravity starts flowing tailward.
One fisherman Wells knows of puts an Alka-Seltzer tablet in a clothespin and casts with it. It isn't that the fish have acid indigestion. To the fish the sizzling sounds like an insect.
So, any hints from the coolly scientific Wells himself? Well, yes. Watch the family cat. If he is friendly, you'll have a full creel because the cat figures he'll cut in on the feed for good behavior. And watch your language. Fish are not hooked on profanity.
There is still a month of skiing left. For those who harbor doubts about their fitness for handling the spring corn, a group of doctors in California, writing for Skiing magazine, has prepared a self-searching physical. It will not do much for form but, on a system of points, it could be the basis for survival.
Overweight by 10 pounds on a standard chart will cost you five points. Pinch your abdomen and if the flesh between the thumb and forefinger goes over a half inch, five points for each half inch. Close your eyes, extend arms straight out with feet close together. Waver or fall, 15 more points.
From a squat, rise with one leg extended. Ten points if you fail on one leg, 10 more if on the other. Five more points for failing to balance on a 2 x 4 and five for not hanging for three seconds from a chinning bar by one hand. Anything fewer than 10 pushups will cost a point a non-push, and 15 situps will come dear, one point for each five seconds over 30 seconds, 10 points for being unable to do the 15 situps. Lose a point, too, for each second over eight for the 40-yard sprint, another point for each 10 seconds over 14 minutes for the mile and a half. It costs five points each time you touch when jumping, feet together, through a field of tires and five points if you can chin yourself only once.
If your score is over 50, the doctors say to stay away from the slopes. If it is between 11 and 50, eschew the expert trails. One to 10, have fun. And zero? Forget about skiing. Contact the Houston Oilers. They need you.
FIDDLER ON THE HOOF
Publications in Lexington, Ky. have been running a blind advertisement that has to rank up there with King Richard III's offer of his kingdom for a horse. "I have a violin," the unnamed owner writes. "Inscription reads as follows: ANTONIUS STRADIVARIUS CEREMONENFIS FACIABAT ANNO 1716.... What offers? I will take race horse in trade."
First there was the Fosbury flop, which was expected to be just that and no more until Dick Fosbury won a gold medal in the high jump at Mexico City in 1968 and everybody started flopping. Now there is the flip, and if Bernhard Stierle of West Germany gets the hang of the thing he may revolutionize the long jump.
A 32-year-old teacher, Stierle has been a long, high and triple jumper as well as a pole vaulter. To get more distance on his long jump he started practicing a somersault in midair. He unveiled the technique last month to an astonished crowd at the South German indoor championships. It failed that day, but a week later, after going 24'2 ¼" in the conventional manner, he switched to the flip and landed 24'4 ¼" from the takeoff board. He is working seriously on it now, but so far is sparing us the hop, skip, flip and jump.
THE HIGH COST OF SITTING
The rising costs of college football have raised the roof at the University of Oklahoma, where a pressed athletic department has been searching for new ways to drill funds from loyal Boomer Sooners. OU now proposes to sell "priority rights" to its choicest seats.
The plan is simple, but not cheap. Donors of $250 would be entitled to buy season tickets between the 40-yard lines, donors of lesser amounts to less advantageous locations, down to $100 for seats within the 20-yard stripes. There would be a limit of 20 donations by a customer. Based on five home games and the current ticket price of $7.25, the cost per seat would go to $57.25. However, people willing to donate more than $250—should a bidding war arise—would be allowed to do so, upping each seat's price still further.
In defending the plan, university officials said that no more than 4,000 seats would be affected. Longtime season ticket-holders who might have to be moved will receive the next-highest priority. And what about anybody else who would like to improve his position? He can always go out and dig his own oil well. Oklahoma, as the plan's many detractors have been saying, not O.K.
Up-to-date Indianapolis has a name for its new World Hockey Association franchise—the Racers. They will begin play next season in the city's new 18,000-seat downtown sports arena along with the ABA basketball team, the Pacers. And there is talk of building a stadium to house an NFL football team, should Indy get one. Has to be Macers or Lacers.
If some American tennis circles will not give a plugged nickel for the Davis Cup, the Australians will—and have, $375,000, in fact. It might be a long, long time before any nation takes the cup away from them.
In an unprecedented move the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia named last year's successful captain, Neale Fraser, as the country's first tennis director and its Davis Cup captain for the next five years. Even Harry Hopman never had a contract for more than a year.
Backing the five-year plan with its fat grant is Esso Australia, Ltd., an offshoot of the American firm. Fraser will get $37,000 a year, and the rest of the money will be used to groom young players and to ensure adequate reimbursement to expensive champions like John Newcombe, Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. Already Fraser has contacted the three, asking them to be available from the semifinals on.
Fraser underscored his seriousness by turning down a $50,000-a-year offer from World Team Tennis to play the U.S. circuit. Said LTAA President Wayne Reid: "This is a big step for Australian tennis. We are now in a position to provide younger players with experience by sending them away with Davis Cup teams. The sponsorship will enable Australia to continue to seek the services of the best players to keep the Davis Cup in Australia."
Smelt dippers, count your blessings. Because of the gas shortage, the State of Washington Fisheries Department has upped the catch limit from 20 to 40 pounds, figuring that most of you are not going to make it to the banks of the smelt-rich Cowlitz River anyway. Limits may be raised, too, on clams, oysters, spiny-rays, bottom fish and maybe even high lake trout. But don't get greedy. Imagine running out of gas halfway home. The old buggy would never smell the same.
Spectators at the Capital Centre where the Bullets play (page 16) apparently could not be happier with their Telscreen, but the fact remains that the instant-replay TV system is not being used to its full capacity. While the Bullets' scoring plays are run back almost without exception, close-up looks at officials' calls seldom are.
General Manager Bob Ferry claims that the only agreement the Bullets have with the NBA is that Telscreen will be used "in good taste," but Telscreen's taste seems too refined even for the referees, who might be expected to object to being second-guessed and who have been guarded lately by NBA headquarters like maidens in a Turkish bath. "The way I look at it, it would be an advantage for me and the rest of the officials if they put all our calls up there," says Referee Jake O'Donnell, who was once an American League baseball umpire. "Then I think the fans would find out just how few bad calls we make. I was in baseball when they first tried the instant replays on television. I think the owners thought it would embarrass the umpires, but it worked out exactly the opposite. When they slowed the action down, it showed we were almost 100% correct on close calls that looked from the stands like they could go either way. My feeling is that we need as much of that sort of thing as we can to show the fans how competent the refs are."
If they are as good as they claim, they deserve a second look.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
Bob Gibson of the Cardinals has a good ear for spring-training queries, as well as an excellent ERA. He left a sign on his locker at St. Petersburg: "In case I'm not here. (1) Knee feels bad. (2) Weather doesn't matter. (3) Arm doesn't feel too good yet. (4) None of your damn business."
The last answer anticipates the prying question: "What about your recent divorce?"
THEY SAID IT
•Lou Carnesecca, basketball coach, asked what was the difference in coming back to coach St. John's after leaving the New York Nets: "$50,000."
•Bobby Hull, on today's athletes: "Why should a guy with a half-million-dollar contract want to have blood dripping down his face, or sweat, or play with bruises? Hell, they won't even play with bruised feelings now."
•Paul Hansen, Oklahoma City University coach, sitting in his office a few nights after OCU upset Oral Roberts University 100-94 when a brilliant lightning flash lit up the room: "Oral is still mad at us."
•Bud Harrelson, on the Atlanta Braves officials' statement that they think Atlanta fans deserve to see Henry Aaron break Babe Ruth's home run record: "If they really want to do it for the Braves fans, let them play in Milwaukee."
•Billy Martin, manager of the Texas Rangers, quoting Casey Stengel: "The secret of managing a club is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the five who are undecided."