DR. PEALE, WHERE ARE YOU?
The practice had been going on—and hardly causing a stir—since the mid-1960s in certain Louisville high schools until Jim Bolus and Larry Barnes broke the story in the Courier-Journal. Reaction was immediate, and heated.
To embarrass boys who quit their football teams, the schools instituted a "Hall of Shame." At Trinity High, a quitter's name tape was taken off his locker and pasted on a Hall of Shame board and team members were strongly encouraged to give him the big go-by socially. This season, one boy who quit the St. Xavier High team finally transferred to another school because of the harassment.
Jim Kennedy, now an assistant at the University of Louisville but coach at Trinity when the first H of S board was raised, termed the treatment of the reluctant players "negative motivation," and credited this with being one of the reasons why Trinity rose from being an also-ran to one of the state's leading high school powers. Opposed parents and educators are positive the same results could have been obtained by eliminating the negative. We're with them.
While Muhammad Ali stirs up the Za√Ørian countryside for support in his upcoming fight in Kinshasa, a startling defection has occurred in his own camp. His wife Belinda is wearing a George Foreman button on her purse, and has sent the heavyweight champion an autographed picture of herself addressed to "Sweet Brother." Foreman turns out to be very high on her list of idols, which includes, by her count, Jim Brown, Roberta Flack, Sammy Davis Jr., Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Temptations, Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly, who is a black karate champion. Ali himself does not qualify for the list.
"You can't put a husband on a list like that," Belinda says. "It's only for idols."
"Does Ali approve of your carrying around a Foreman button?"
"No. But if he can have his idols—Sugar Ray Robinson and Jack Johnson and the others—then I can have mine. I don't like George only as a fighter. As a person he's tops. I met him for five minutes in the Midtown Motel in New York while he was talking boxing with Ali."
"Whom will you root for at the fight?"
"I don't like fighting, period. I don't want Ali to be hurt. I don't want George to be hurt. I won't cheer for one or the other."
Belinda expresses her views with considerable self-assurance. She is, after all, something of a karate student herself.
As pigeons go, Hot Rod is not your everyday cooer content to sit on the hat of General Sherman. His thing is motorcycles. Show him one gunning along the roads of Prince George County, Va. and instantly he is flying formation. He joined cyclist George Eberhardt one day this June and has been a fairly constant companion ever since.
"He's a crazy bird," Eberhardt says of the purple and white demon. "Sometimes he flies under the handlebars and heads straight for oncoming cars at 45 miles an hour! He pulls up just before getting killed. Other times he flies right alongside, eyeball to eyeball, never taking his beady red eyes off you."
There are some things Hot Rod will not do. He will not follow Eberhardt when he takes his car instead of the cycle, and there are certain cyclists he will not follow. Probably not dicey enough.
ERASING AN ASTERISK
The greatest base stealer of all time is not Lou Brock or Ty Cobb but William R. Hamilton, better known as Billy. You could look it up, as James Thurber once wrote.
But could you? The Book of Baseball Records credits Hamilton, who played from 1888 to 1901 for Kansas City, Philadelphia and Boston, with 937 stolen bases. The book does not tell how the bases were stolen. Before 1898, a player earned a steal not only in the traditional way but also by taking an extra base on a hit—i.e., reaching third from first on a single—or on an out, a fly ball for instance.
We will never know how many of those other steals Hamilton was credited with, but maybe Brock will make the whole business academic. During the last 10 years he has averaged 67 steals a season, including the record-smashing 118 of this year. Should he maintain the pace, and at 35 he shows no signs of slowing down, he will slip by Hamilton sometime in August of 1977, five months after passing Cobb's modern record of 892.
WAY TO GO
Call it gamesmanship, one-upmanship or psyching, it is all the same thing says Robert M. Nideffer—pressure. A clinical psychologist at the University of Rochester, Nideffer says pressure is present in almost all sports and that the one good antidote is psyching down. The trouble is, he told Douglas S. Looney of The National Observer, most athletes psych themselves up, and "all this rah-rah stuff is generally bad. Nine times out of 10, the arousal technique generates pressure, and performance suffers."
Psyching down is a matter of relaxing. The question is, how? Nideffer has these suggestions that seem worth trying. They may just help you sink the winning putt on the 18th green, or beat the boss one-on-one at the company picnic (or look for a new job):
Twice a day for 10 minutes, relax the muscles in your forearms, then the biceps, triceps, face, jaw, forehead, neck and shoulders. Breathe slowly. Now rehearse a forthcoming activity—say your backhand before a tennis match. Finally, take a deep breath again and stretch.
Monitor your own feelings and thoughts, your strengths and weaknesses, then work on controlling how you think and feel.
Be open-minded in dealing with pressure. Admit that it is there, think about it, talk to friends about it.
During the contest, do not think of winning or losing but concentrate on your execution and skills.
Try not to expect perfection.
All of which sounds sensible. Even if you don't win, you're going to feel better losing.
TERN FOR THE BETTER
A second or so after his drive off the 4th tee at the JDM Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Jack D. Hill heard a dull thud. He looked up just in time to see a sea gull fluttering to the turf, mortally wounded. Hill finished the hole one over par and was still shaking when the obvious thought hit him: he had gotten a bird and a bogey on the same hole.
Ruminating over the long months ahead between the A's final 3-2 World Series win and 1975 spring training, The New Yorker magazine's Roger Angell and a dinner party of baseball writers played a new game last week. The object is to create a situation that is explained by a baseball cliché. Ready?
Edsel Ford was touring the plant in Detroit when he accidentally fell into the assembly line and disappeared. What happened to him? asks the cliché player. Answer: He came through in the clutch.
Try this one about the drunk who has been going at it all night and is riding a terrific high. He steps out of the bar at 8 a.m. and immediately gets depressed. What happened? Lost it in the sun. Or this one, about the two Easter bunnies from the Deep South discussing one's ailing foot. "I stepped on a tack," the injured bunny says. "How do you know that?" asks the other. "I fielded it on the short hop."
What was Clark Gable doing in Mutiny on the Bounty that so enraged Charles Laughton? Swinging on deck. What happened when the bulldozers appeared and the old lady who was the last holdout on land that would be a future baseball park refused to budge? They ground 'er into left field.
Cheer up. It will be March before you know it.
THE BAD BACK EIGHT
Going into the season, the National Football League had nine new rules and high hopes of enlivened offensive action. The effects on the game, however, have not been dramatic. They could be, though, says New England Patriot Quarterback Jim Plunkett, if the league would adopt one more new rule: make the four-man defensive line mandatory.
The problem, as Plunkett reads it over his center's shoulder, is finding a man free to throw to against the three-man rush, eight-man pass coverage favored by most of today's teams. "Theoretically, there are five receivers," he told the Los Angeles Times' Bob Oates, "but usually you have to keep one back in as a blocker, and that leaves four receivers against eight defensive backs." Most teams, he says, find it impossible to throw anything but dink passes into the 3-8, and not many of those. "Balanced offense is something you don't see much of anymore. There are a lot of runs because of the three-man line and a few passes but almost no long passes."
It does not help to keep running backs in the backfield as blockers, says Plunkett. Even with more time to throw, the quarterback has only three receivers to pass to, one of whom is being double-teamed, the other two triple-teamed. Plunkett concedes that stronger teams like Los Angeles and Minnesota continue to use the front four but he considers them exceptional. "I think most coaches are coming to the opinion that it's easier to find four 230-pound linebackers than four 270-pound defensive linemen. The three-man line is here to stay unless something is done about it."
The New York Jets, like other professional teams, solve the problem of finding temporary housing for their athletes by asking viewers and listeners to supply leads. Here is the reply to one such request:
"I just received permission from my parents to write you that we can have two or three N.Y. Jets stay at our house for the season.... It doesn't matter who you send, but my mother would prefer Joe Namath, my dad would like Rich Caster and my dog and I would like the Flea, Eddie Bell....
"My mother is a good cook, my father is a good handyman and I'm a good football player, so I can help them practice in the yard."
Sounds too good to turn down.
THE SHARK HAS PRETTY EARS, DEAR
An effective shark repellent has eluded marine scientists for years. Poisons were a flop and attacks on the brutish marauders' sense of smell rated no better than a passing sniff. But now there is some reason to hope that sound and music, which in the past have been used to attract sharks, may shoo them away.
Theo Brown, an Australian whose book describing his life with sharks will be published next spring by Little, Brown & Co., found that he became the instant life of a shark party when he played the even rhythms of waltzes underwater. Fox trots were popular, too, but when he spun a Beatles tune for a White Shark it was Tootsie, Goodby. The fish exploded in a frenzy and sped off, never to return.
Another who has been working on sharks' auricular preferences is Arthur Myrberg of the University of Miami. He has discovered certain low-frequency sounds that both attract and repel them. Further study, he feels, might refine the sounds into components that either attract or repel but do not do both. The Beatles' Help! may be the very thing.
THEY SAID IT
•MacArthur Lane, Green Bay Packers running back, on the imaginative onslaughts of Dick Butkus: "One time he bit me. Another time he tried to break my ankle. Another time he tried to crack my leg. Nothing happened. I guess maybe my leg was too green."
•Clint Murchison, Dallas Cowboys owner, asked if he would try to sign World Football League players: "If the WFL succeeds, I'm not going after their players. I want to sign the accountants."
•Fran Curci, University of Kentucky football coach, in the weekly UK football letter: "Both teams used basically the same offense, which is based on having the ball."