FIVE MEANS FOUR
You may not believe it, but football has started already. In fact, the new American Football Association, which has six teams in Texas and Louisiana, began play in mid-June. The AFA's founders, Roger Gill and Harry Lander, hope it will serve as a developing ground for NFL players. It will end its regular season in mid-August, but meanwhile teams are experimenting with a new approach to field goals. Any field goal of 40 to 50 yards is worth four points, one of more than 50 yards is worth five points. If the attempt is missed, the ball goes back to the line of scrimmage. This makes for some weird tactics.
Just before halftime of a game at Shreveport, Houston had the ball on Louisiana's 36-yard line, fourth down and four yards to go. A Houston lineman rose from his stance, walked across the line of scrimmage and tapped an opponent on the shoulder. From the sideline Louisiana coaches screamed, "Don't accept it!" but the players failed to hear them and officials stepped off a five-yard penalty. Houston's Charles Stafford then kicked a 41-yard field goal worth four points. Houston ultimately won 29-28.
Last year the Los Angeles Dodgers just missed becoming the first ball club to draw three million paid fans in regular-season home games, with 2,955,087 in 79 dates. At present they are averaging nearly 41,000 paid, which projects to a total of 3.2 million.
Jerry West is in top form, not for basketball but for golf. A one-handicap player at Los Angeles' Bel-Air Country Club, he shot a record-breaking 28 recently—two below the previous mark—on the back nine and ended up with a 65 for the round. The course record of 62 is held by head pro Eddie Merrins, who shot 31-31. Sam Snead once had a 64 at Bel-Air.
There are many who say that if West had put in only half the hours playing golf that he did on basketball he would be among the best in the world. That is, if there were any golf courses around Cabin Creek, W. Va. "There were only coal mines," says West, who had played only one round of golf until after his second year with the Lakers.
An Australian syndicate has built a highly unusual catamaran that it hopes will be the fastest sailing vessel in history. The 55-foot cat, named Big Bandicoot after a Down Under marsupial, begins trials this week near Sydney, and next month will try to break two records, one set last year, the other more than a century ago. The former is the 33.4-knot world speed mark over a 500-meter course established by the catamaran Crossbow II, skippered by Tim Colman of the English mustard family; the old record is the 24-hour ocean passage of 465 miles reported by the clipper ship Champion of the Seas back in 1854.
The idea of accomplishing all this came to Geoff Baker of Sydney, the head of the Big Bandicoot syndicate, some 18 months ago when, impressed by the swiftness of multihulled yachts in a singlehanded transatlantic race, he realized that the westerly wind of the eastern Australian seaboard would be an ideal power source. The westerly is a strange wind. It blows only from June to September, the Aussie winter, usually in three-day bursts. The wind can reach speeds up to 30 knots, but 20 knots is ideal for Big Bandicoot.
Baker got Peter Joubert, a professor of mechanical engineering at Melbourne University and one of the country's best-known yacht designers, to draw up the plans. Joubert has designed Big Bandicoot as a speed sailing machine intended to go fast only in strong winds. She is Australia's largest light cat—she weighs only about 3,500 pounds—and carries a 65-foot mast with 1,200 square feet of sail. Inspired by offshore powerboats, Joubert gave her hard chine hulls. He is confident she will do close to 40 knots. "We are putting speedboat-type planing strakes along the bottom of the hulls," says Baker. "If it does work and she gets up and planes, then the sky is the limit."
HAVING A BALL
Columnist Bob Matthews of the Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union, who thinks it's stupid for Americans to call soccer soccer when the rest of the world calls it football, recently asked readers to come up with a more appropriate name for American football so we can start calling soccer football.
A total of 130 readers offered 52 different suggestions, including hitball, pigball, battleball, killball, blockleball, murderball, passball, gridball, crunchball, warball, black-and-blue ball and Pete Rozelle ball. To Matthews' surprise and delight, 22 readers suggested tackleball. "Tackleball," muses Matthews. "College tackleball. The National Tackleball League. I could live with that."
Maybe he could, but we couldn't. Why not change the name of soccer to kickball, instead?
Who's the best college football coach in the country? To find out, Larry Guest of the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel Star asked 31 coaches at the American Football Coaches Association Golf Tournament in Dallas to list their top three picks. The results of the poll, scoring 3-2-1, are Bear Bryant of Alabama, 54½; Bo Schembechler of Michigan, 29; Woody Hayes of Ohio State, 25½; Joe Paterno of Penn State, 21; Lou Holtz of Arkansas, 11; and Frank Kush of Arizona State, 8.
An interesting ballot was cast by Bo Rein of North Carolina State, who played for Hayes and worked for Holtz but voted for Paterno.
The registrar at Horseshoe Bay Golf School in Marble Falls, Texas is Bobby Putt.
If you're thinking of buying a ticket for the NCAA basketball championships next March, forget it. The championships, which will be held at the University of Utah's Special Events Center (15,000 capacity), is not only sold out for both nights, but Utah could have sold close to another 80,000 tickets.
It can be tough trying to find a parking space in Chicago, but it's murder to find a mooring for a boat. There are an estimated 300,000 boats in the five Illinois counties around Chicago, but there are only 4,400 mooring places on the city's lakefront. As a result, boat owners who can't get a legal mooring (or who use that as an excuse to avoid paying a mooring fee) often tie up to mooring cans assigned to boats that are out on Lake Michigan. To make matters worse, some of the returning boat owners, who find they have no place to moor, in turn tie up at someone else's can.
In an effort to make order out of chaos, the Chicago Park District used to tow away illegally moored boats and stow them at various sites. But inasmuch as the boats were not under guard, owners would find out where they were and sneak off with them. Now the district has its own corral, a former Coast Guard dock inside locks at the mouth of the Chicago River. Last week officials began rounding up the first miscreants. It's not going to be cheap for an offender. There's a $200 charge just to get the boat back, plus $10 for each day of impoundment.
A Canadian Football League team is drooling over an 18-year-old who is a rare combination of size, speed, strength and agility. The wunderkind is Larry Kinnebrew, recently of East Rome (Ga.) High, a 6'2", 255-pound fullback who twice won the state high school 100-yard-dash title. His winning times were 10.01 and 10.02, but he has been clocked in 9.6. As a senior this year, Kinnebrew also won the state discus title, and last year he won the shotput. As a sophomore he won the Class AA unlimited division wrestling championship and as a senior he won the Class A title.
But Kinnebrew really excels in football. He helped lead the Gladiators to the Class A championship with a 15-0 record by running for 1,012 yards in 114 carries (an 8.9 average) and scored 118 points. The reason he didn't run more is that Coach Jerry Sharp used him mainly as a blocker. With Kinnebrew flattening defenders, Halfback Greg Gordon set a school rushing record of 2,259 yards in 287 carries. Kinnebrew was also middle linebacker for a defense that gave up only one touchdown in the regular season. Oh, yes, he was also the Gladiators' punter, averaging 39.8 yards a kick.
Southern Cal and Pitt were among the schools after Kinnebrew. He chose Georgia, but his grades aren't good enough—in fact, he didn't graduate—and there won't be time this summer to make up the needed credits. If he does go with the CFL, he won't be the first high school fullback to do so. Cookie Gilchrist, who went on to star for Buffalo in the AFL, took this route.
Despite all the pious political talk about the need to cut spending, most Congressmen still deal in pork-barrel projects that often are economic and environmental disasters. Recently Rep. Robert Edgar (D., Pa.) offered an amendment that he called Proposition Eight after Rep. Tom Bevill (D., Ala.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Works, served up the pork package for 1979—approximately $3.2 billion budgeted for several hundred water projects, many of them questionable. Edgar's Proposition Eight would have struck out eight of the worst, such as the $167 million Meramec Park Dam in Missouri that would destroy 75 miles of beautiful Ozark streams and inundate more than 100 caves, including some of the most heavily visited in the U.S. The benefits would be questionable, although the Army Corps of Engineers claims the project would draw sightseers who would come simply to gaze at what the Corps had built. Another project is the Lafarge Dam in Wisconsin, which would create a silt-laden lake that would not meet state water quality standards and would damage the Kickapoo River Natural Area, a national landmark. This project, which is opposed by Wisconsin's governor and two U.S. senators, has become so malodorous that even the Corps is seeking to de-authorize it. All told, the eight projects cited by Edgar would, if built, cost taxpayers about $563 million.
Rep. Silvio Conte (R., Mass.) backed Proposition Eight. He called the projects "boondoggles" and said, "We cannot continue to act in a reckless, buddy-buddy fashion and expect the taxpayers to unknowingly support us."
Even so, the House rejected Proposition Eight, and more than half a billion dollars stands to go down the drain. Edward Osann of the National Wildlife Federation says, "It is clear that neither our economy nor our environment can further afford the ribbon cuttings, the naming of dams and artificial lakes and all the other public accolades that reward Congressional spending for unneeded and destructive water projects. But it is also very clear that these abuses will continue until enough conservationists and enough taxpayers get angry enough to bring enough pressure on enough Congressmen and Senators to clean up the pork-barrel system."
THEY SAID IT
•Carlton Fisk, Red Sox catcher, after a game in which he hit a three-run homer, leaped three rows into the box seats to catch a foul ball, and slid headfirst into a wall to catch another foul: "I felt like a maple tree on the last day of March—all tapped out."
•Tom Boggs, Atlanta pitcher, asked what kind of a pitch he had hit for a home run: "I dunno, my eyes were closed."
•Lee Rose, new basketball coach at Purdue, denying reports that 7'1" Center Joe Barry Carroll is leaving school: "I'll guarantee you that the day you see the announcement that he has left, you can look for my name right below his."
•Sugar Ray Leonard, welterweight boxer, on his willingness to talk to the press: "The era of the trainer or manager talking for the fighter is over. They're not going to do his fighting, so they shouldn't be doing his talking, either."