GAMES AND FUN
Studies of Little League baseball and football have been cropping up around the country, with interesting if generally inconclusive results. Although a third of the parents questioned in one survey said their sons were too excited to eat or sleep normally after a Little League baseball game, scientific measurement of sweating response—as a precise indicator of emotional stress—showed that the boys were no more stimulated by a formal Little League game than they were by softball games played in school during phys ed classes. But another test, in which portable devices taped to the youngsters' bodies recorded heart rates during a game, revealed that pulses became most rapid when the players were at bat; since the boys claimed they did not feel nervous when they were batting, the researchers suggested that the cheering of parents and other spectators, for or against the batter, had an influence on heart rate. This indication that the Little League environment causes emotional reaction counteracts the sweating-response findings and brings us back to square one.
Replies to questionnaires on Little League football, distributed to coaches, parents and players in Utah and New Mexico, reflected the special interests of those queried. The Little League coaches were nearly unanimous in describing themselves as fair and knowledgeable and in saying that the most valuable aspects of the program were learning the game, conditioning and teamwork. But high school coaches said their Little League counterparts were generally unqualified, if well-meaning, and failed to teach "good fundamentals." Parents said their own feelings and reactions had no effect on their sons and declared rather sanctimoniously that the principal benefits of the program were teamwork, knowledge of the game, sportsmanship, fitness, fun and discipline.
The kids themselves said their coaches knew football, were good teachers and worked hard, but 41% also complained that the coaches yelled too much and 36% added that they were poor losers or poor examples. When asked why they played, most of the boys answered, simply, "To have fun." Significantly, almost three-quarters of them said they would rather see action with a losing team than sit on the bench with a winner.
Carnegie-Mellon University of Pittsburgh is not one of the nation's basketball powers, and no wonder. Workmen laying a new floor in Carnegie-Mellon's basketball court sensed that something was wrong with the center circle. They took a few measurements and found they were right—the circle was four feet off center to one side of the court. When he was told about it, former Athletic Director Raymond Haynes said the sideslip must have occurred that time they put the new backboards in. And when was that? Well, 12 years ago.
And you wonder why your jump shot keeps going off to one side....
When Colorado Coach Bill Mallory elected to go for one point and a tie against Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago, instead of gambling for two and an upset victory, the kick failed, Colorado lost and Mallory locked the press out of the dressing room after the game.
When Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler was criticized after his heavily favored Wolverines were held to successive ties by Stanford and Baylor, Schembechler reacted by saying he didn't care what the fans thought.
When North Carolina State Coach Lou Holtz saw a jogger running on the track around the football field while his team was practicing, he called the campus police and had the jogger, who turned out to be a North Carolina State math professor, ejected because, Holtz said, he might have been a spy for a rival college.
Is it no more than coincidence that all three of these irascible gentlemen were once assistants to Woody Hayes at Ohio State?
THIRD IS FIRST
Traditionally, third base is called the hot corner, presumably because of the plethora of line drives, blistering grounders and hard-sliding base runners that seem always to be cluttering up that section of the diamond. One would appear justified in assuming that third basemen lead shaky, precarious lives, but the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company says it is not so. The insurance statisticians report that a study comparing major league baseball players with males in the general population indicates, first, that ballplayers have significantly longer life-spans and, second, that third basemen live longer than all other ballplayers. Shortstops, Met Life says sadly, have the shortest life-span, although it is still longer than that of the average fan.
The insurance statisticians also sought a relationship between batting averages and longevity. After 1901—the beginning of the so-called modern era of baseball—the differences are slight, but for those who played ball in the dark ages of the 19th century the word was clear: hit to live. Those who were .300 hitters back then had a mortality ratio 12% below the general population's, whereas clods who batted under .200 were 9% higher.
This probably means that if your grandfather was a third baseman, you'd better start showing him more respect. He may outlive you, and he probably still can outhit you.
SINGIN' THE BLUES
Maybe it has slipped your mind, but everybody in Boston, including Red Sox fans, remembers that it was the Chicago Black Hawks who eliminated the Boston Bruins from the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring. Which serves to explain why Filene's, the big Boston department store, slashed the price of its toy Boston Bruins bear, which was bedecked with Bruin colors and logo. The little bears have tiny music boxes inside and a wind-up key in the back. Wind up these bears and the tune that comes out is, "Chi-cago, Chi-cago, that todd-lin' town...."
BUCKLES AND BOWS
Everybody seems to be having trouble with stadiums lately. A Candlestick Park too quickly becomes obsolescent, a Superdome in New Orleans costs too much, a Rich Stadium is built in Buffalo only after bitter dispute. Now Orlando's Tangerine Bowl has the bends.
In 1972 the Orange County Civic Facilities Authority decided to expand the ancient 17,000-seat T Bowl to a more modern 51,000-seat stadium that might attract a National Football League franchise. But there was more talk than action, and Tampa, 80 miles away, landed the NFL team instead. Last year, with the stadium still unchanged, the infant World Football League put a club in Orlando. The Blazers played well but drew poorly, had front-office problems and left as abruptly as they arrived.
At that point Orange County finally began work on the long-proposed expansion, as though to say, "We may not have a team but, look, we do have a stadium." Construction proceeded until recently, when people noticed that new steel beams supporting one end of the arena were distinctly bowed. Amid a chorus of denials of responsibility from architect, contractor, steelwork designer and others, a consulting firm was hired. Their report verified the bowing of the beams and cited 30 structural faults, including shaky stairways and inadequate bracing. The problems are correctable, engineers say, but how long will it take and how much will it cost?
Poor Orlando, without a pro football team to its name and with December's Tangerine Bowl game in jeopardy. Yet one local man, either an incurable optimist or a total cynic, sees it all as a great opportunity. Aware of the hordes of tourists that come to Orange County to visit Disney World, he proposes that the T Bowl's troubles be widely publicized. After all, he says, if a leaning tower in Pisa can draw crowds, why not a sagging stadium in Orlando?
HOGGING THE NEWS
The pig those Florida high school boys adopted as a mascot and which they said they planned to have as the main course at a postseason dinner (SCORECARD, Oct. 13) has gained supporters of its own. Eating the pig, its fans say, is a terrible idea, barbaric, possibly un-American. A Cleveland disc jockey named Larry Morrow talked of organizing a pignapping that would save the animal from its barbecued future, and he later offered football Coach Tom Sargent $200 for Big Red. Morrow spoke of stashing the animal on Larry Csonka's Ohio farm, since no clear-thinking Florida high school football player would try to get a pig-skin, even with pig inside, away from Csonka.
Other, less imaginative, critics complained to the school, and principal Donald Linton came under pressure to do something about the pig. Four state legislators offered to give the team a barbecue if they would spare Big Red. That idea fell through when Linton asked what they planned to eat at their barbecue. He added that there was nothing he could do about keeping the players from having the pig for dinner. After all, he pointed out with impeccable logic, they had paid for it with their own money.
NONWINNER AND STILL CHAMP
The eighth race at Belmont last Friday, the Firethorn, was an ordinary $20,000 allowance open to "3-year-olds and upwards which have not won $6,600 three times over a mile since April 26...." Such complex conditions, common in racing, are designed to bring together horses of roughly the same class, but sometimes a loophole lets a trainer slip a superior horse into an inferior race, which is what happened in the Firethorn. LeRoy Jolley, trainer of Foolish Pleasure, was casting about for something his colt could use as a tune-up before going to California for the $350,000 National Thoroughbred Championship on Nov. 1. Even though Foolish Pleasure had earned more than $711,000 this year and was only a few thousand short of $1 million for his career, he had won only twice since April 26—the $125,000 Kentucky Derby in May and the $350,-000 match race against ill-fated Ruffian in July. Under the conditions, he was eligible for the Firethorn and was duly entered. It looked like a soft touch for the Derby winner.
But nothing is easy. Danny Lopez, trainer of the good 4-year-old handicap horse Stonewalk, also had noticed the Firethorn. Stonewalk had earned $186,405 this year and nearly half a million in his career, but he, too, had won only two big races since April 26. Lopez entered him and then discovered that Stonewalk would be going against Foolish Pleasure. He tried to have his horse scratched, but it was too late. The two stars went at it, their class showing as they left the field 10 lengths behind, and the easy outing turned into an all-out stretch duel, with Stonewalk, to Jolley's chagrin, beating Foolish Pleasure by a nose.
Jolley's colt did pick up $4,400 for finishing second, which edged him over the $1 million mark, but the trainer wasn't so sure now about sending him to California. Maybe Jolley should keep Foolish Pleasure at Belmont and look around for another race for horses "which have not won $6,600 three times since April 26." He's still eligible.
THEY SAID IT
•Tony Mason, University of Cincinnati football coach, facing Tulsa with several of his key players injured: "You think I'm not worried? Last night I called my wife 'Ralph.' "
•John McKay, USC football coach, on artificial turf: "We think of it as fuzzy concrete."
•John Agunga, African witch doctor, consulting his baboon bones to determine why the Baltimore Orioles lost the race in the American League East despite his spells: "Publicity! They lost because they turned coming to me into a publicity gimmick. Witchcraft works only by stealth."