BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Something funny appears to be going on in Washington with George Allen's new contract to coach the Redskins through 1981. Allen and Edward Bennett Williams, the team president, reached agreement on terms last July, but Allen had not signed as of last week.
The Washington Post reported that the contract doubles Allen's salary to $250,000 a year but limits his authority to spend. Soon after Allen joined the Redskins, Williams delighted in telling audiences, "I gave Allen an unlimited expense account, and he has already exceeded it." Apparently this is no longer quite so funny.
Asked about the contract last week, Allen said, "It's just a legality type of thing, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm planning on being here." Kind of an odd answer, but odder yet was Williams' when asked if the team's so-so record made him thankful that Allen hadn't signed. "I have no comment on that," said the great mouthpiece, normally never at a loss for words. A close friend says, "I think Ed wants Don Shula."
Now that you have carved up the Thanksgiving bird, hear this from James F. Brady of Peekskill, N.Y., author of the authoritative Modern Turkey Hunting. In the wild, female turkeys never gobble and neither do the toms. The toms say, "Gil-obble-obble," but only in the spring when they're mating, and the call means, "I'm here, sweetheart, and the rest of you guys stay away."
In the fall, the toms gather in flocks, and if one becomes separated he calls, "Puck," which translates as, "Hey, let's get together." Young turkeys call, "Kee, kee, kee!" That means the same thing, and hunters often use the call to lure one in for a shot.
"Perk!" is the alarm call sharp-eyed turkeys sound when they spot danger, such as a hunter. There must have been a lot of "Perks!" when Brady went out. He didn't get a turkey in three days of hunting this fall and had to order his Thanksgiving bird from the local supermarket.
So much for turkeys. Now for a duck-hunting story told by an airline pilot.
A lawyer, a doctor and an airline pilot went hunting together with their retrievers. The lawyer shot the first duck, sent out his retriever to get it, and the Labrador brought it back promptly. The doctor shot the next duck. He sent his dog, which jumped into the water and retrieved it just as quickly.
A third duck flew by. The airline pilot fired, and the duck went down. His dog went out, picked up the duck, went to an island where he ate it, swam back to the shore, made love to the other two retrievers and then took the next three weeks off.
The Bonneville Salt Flats, famed as the locale for world land speed records, may be finished for racers. A U.S. Geological Survey report issued last week says that the flats have suffered irreversible damage. In recent years the deterioration has become so severe that no one has seriously attempted to break Gary Gabelich's world land-speed record of 622.407 mph set at Bonneville in 1970. G. C. Lines, the geologist who wrote the report, says the raceway is being damaged by natural evaporation of salt, interstate highway construction and potash mining. According to Lines, the potash operation, in which Kaiser Chemical Corporation draws brine from the flats through a series of ditches, is the main factor in causing erosion.
Following release of the report, Gabelich and Don Vesco, who holds the world motorcycle-speed record, staged a press conference in Salt Lake City to plead that the flats be saved. Vesco called for Kaiser to stop the erosion and said, "I can't see putting a lot of people out of work at Kaiser, but they can preserve our part of the raceway and help us. After all, racing was there first."
Gabelich said he had the backing for a car capable of 1,000 mph, "but conditions of the salt at present would make it impossible for me to make a record attempt. There are chuck holes three to four inches deep along the measured mile. If we lose the salt flats—if the United States loses the Bonneville Salt Flats as a racing surface—it is a mortal sin. They are a very unique gift of God to mankind."
MAN WITH A BENT
John Bennett, a 48-year-old businessman in East Peoria, Ill. has a literal bent for the unusual. Several years ago while Bennett was sweeping the floor, a light bulb marked "idea" lit up in his brain. He fiddled with the broom and put a 19-degree bend in the handle. The bend in the handle became the center of the axis of the arm, and Bennett found he could do the same amount of sweeping as before with less than half the amount of energy. He next put a 19-degree bend into the handle of a hammer, and presto! he got, he says, 32% more power.
With that, Bennett went into sports equipment. He gave a crooked bat to kids playing softball, and weak hitters started to hit. Adults used the bat, and, Bennett says, "Home runs were hit by people who had never hit home runs." Fishermen found they got more distance with bent casting rods, according to Bennett, and so did golfers using bent clubs whose drives went 25% farther. Now Bennett is working on a bent-handled tennis racket which, he says, "does away with tennis elbow."
Bennett, who has patented his benthandled inventions, says a major sporting-goods manufacturer is looking them over. "The idea is so simple," he says, "and so stupid that nobody's ever thought of it before."
TV OR NOT TV
Here's another instance of television finagling with a sports schedule and inconveniencing local fans. In Tempe, Ariz. 57,000 ticket holders as well as restaurant and hotel owners have had to change their plans for this weekend because ABC got Arizona State and Arizona to switch their football game from this Saturday night to Friday evening to accommodate TV. The kickoff time also has been moved up to 7 p.m. from 7:30, further annoying more fans who will be hard pressed to get to the stadium on time after work. Moreover, Arizona State's basketball opener has been moved from Friday to Saturday, disrupting the plans of still more locals. For knuckling under to TV, Arizona State, Arizona and the Western Athletic Conference divvy up $357,200.
By contrast, Dave Nelson, the athletic director at the University of Delaware, doesn't go for such shenanigans. ABC asked Delaware to delay last Saturday's football game against Colgate so it could be telecast as the regional follow-up to Ohio State-Michigan, but this was impossible because Delaware Stadium lacks lights. ABC then suggested moving the game to Philadelphia, 40 miles away. Nelson demurred, saying, "That would have been totally unfair to all the people who bought tickets."
After Southern newspapers reported last week that the Reverend S. L. Wheatley, the 67-year-old minister of the Fort McCoy Baptist Church in Ocala, Fla., had sighted a mysterious hairy creature at least VA feet tall, but perhaps eight feet tall, maybe animal, maybe human, lurking in a bunch of palmettos in the Ocala National Forest, the reverend got a letter saying, "In case you see this eight-foot creature again, I would appreciate it if you would have him call me collect." It was signed by Dale D. Brown, the LSU basketball coach.
Golf fans yearning for a nostalgic look at Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and other celebrated oldtimers will get a chance next April, when a 54-hole tournament called Legends of Golf will be played at the Onion Creek Country Club near Austin, Texas. The purse will be $400,000, the richest in the history of golf. The tournament is limited to players age 50 or more, except for one younger golfer who will be invited each year to round out the 16-man field. Arnold Palmer has been invited to fill this role next spring. Says oldtimer Demaret, "That purse represents all of the prize money that we played for over the entire 25 years of our careers."
Doug Weaver, the athletic director at Georgia Tech, is upset about football. Not the college game, but peewee football for kids. "I know of instances of things that happened in the Atlanta area you wouldn't believe," Weaver told Al Dunning of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I think it's safe to assume the same things are going on in Memphis and everywhere else little kids are playing.
"I know of cases where they've given kids diuretic pills to make them lose weight so they could get under a certain pound limit. I've seen 8-year-old kids wearing six pounds of equipment running around yelling 'Kill!'
"My own son's coach wouldn't let his team walk across the field and shake the other team's hands after a game. I don't think that's the way the game ought to be taught to little boys.
"I love kids' soccer," Weaver went on. "You want to know why? Because the parents don't know anything about it yet, that's why. They don't know enough to foul it up, but give them time. In five years, kids' soccer won't be any fun."
TAKE IT OFF
A couple of college basketball coaches in Florida have started locking the gym doors during practice. Don Beasley at Jacksonville and Glenn Wilkes at Stetson have their squads play strip poker during free-throw drills. A player who misses has to take off an article of clothing. "The players take it seriously," Beasley says. "Some of the poorer shooters started wearing four pairs of socks." Wilkes says, "The concentration is amazing. I had guys who were 55% free-throw shooters last year go 10 minutes without a miss. It's the best drill we've ever had for shooting."
Sports fans demand aural satisfaction. They just have to know the score, like now! Take the success of Sports Phone, which extended its service to Chicago recently and is already getting 25,000 calls a day. By simply dialing 936-1313, a Chicago fan can get the latest scores, interviews and sports news 24 hours a day.
Sports Phone, which began with a New York City service in 1972 and opened a New Jersey branch six months ago, makes its money by getting a producer's fee from the phone company involved. After all, the more calls made, the more loot for Ma Bell, and as of October the New York service was receiving more than 2.1 million calls a month. Most of the callers are kids "who are just crazy to hear what the results are," says Fred Weiner, a founder of Air Time, the company that owns Sports Phone. And what about bookies and bettors? "I would imagine there are a lot of those people," he says.
Meanwhile, back home in Indiana, Dan Grimland has started a new sports-broadcasting service, Telesport, in Indianapolis. For a fee that ranges from a nickel to 25¢ a minute, a fan can listen to the live radio play-by-play of almost any game in the country over his home telephone. Grimland charges by the minute because most people don't want to hear an entire game. So far, he has met no resistance from broadcasters on the question of rights—indeed, they are amused—and just recently Telesport serviced its first out-of-state listener, Dr. Glenn Swindell, a Carmel, Ind. dentist who was vacationing in San Francisco and wanted to hear the Texas A&M-Arkansas football game in College Station, Texas. Swindell paid $29 to listen to the complete game, a lot less than if he had flown to Texas to see it.
THEY SAID IT
•Dr. Bill Lenkaitis, New England Patriot center, on his budding dentistry practice: "It's all word of mouth."
•Jack Harris, WFLA radio sportscaster, on Tampa Bay's offense: "They should put a sign on the 10-yard line saying, 'The Bucs stop here.' "