MUSHROOMS, SADDLEDOMES, ETC.
Some things the sports world can surely do without:
•The mushroom-cloud logo on the helmets worn by members of the Richland (Wash.) High School football team, whose nickname is the Bombers in recognition of the importance of the nuclear armaments industry to the town's economy. Principal Gus Nash insists that the logo has "nothing to do with nuclear weapons," but it's hard to imagine what else the mushroom clouds could possibly have to do with. You would think the school could at least change the logo to show an unexploded bomb.
•The decision to name the new home of the NHL's Calgary Flames, a 16,700-seat facility with a saddle-shaped roof, the Olympic Saddledome. Because that moniker is such a mouthful, most Calgary residents refer to the building simply as the Saddledome. But there's a problem with that, too. As kibitzers in Calgary have noted, it's a physical impossibility for a roof to be shaped like both a saddle and a dome. The vote here is for a grabber of a name like the Calgary Coliseum.
•The continued on-court tantrums of John McEnroe, whose verbal assault on the net-cord judge during last month's Australian Indoor Tennis Championships put him over the $7,500 limit in yearly fines, therefore earning him an automatic 21-day suspension. "I don't think I deserve to be fined for what I said," McEnroe groused. "If I'd known I was going to be fined for that, I'd really have let him have it." What McEnroe charmingly said to the official was this: "How many more imaginary lets do you intend to call, you fat turd?"
•A "subliminal program" that computer owners can use to flash messages across their TV screens—so briefly that the eyes can't see the words—while they're watching regular TV fare. The messages supposedly work on the "subconscious mind" so as to increase one's "athletic confidence" on the golf course. Developed by Stimutech, Inc. of East Lansing, Mich., the subliminal messages are flashed on the screen by means of something called the Expando-Vision system, which can also be programmed, it is claimed, to help users quit smoking, control stress, develop better study habits and enhance their sex lives. The promise of being able to improve at sports while sitting in front of the tube is just what our already overly sedentary society needs, right?
Those NFL trading cards that police are handing out to youngsters in a number of cities (SCORECARD, Sept. 5) continue to be snapped up as fast as they come off the presses. Each card bears a photo of a local NFL star on one side and crime prevention or safety tip on the other, and the cops see the cards as a way of building good will with kids and helping them stay out of trouble. However, in the Washington, D.C. area, where a series of 16 Redskin cards, one for each week of the season, is being distributed, one card had to be revised. It was originally to bear a picture of Safety Tony Peters, but was dropped from the trading-card lineup because Peters pleaded guilty last month to federal drug trafficking charges and is currently under NFL suspension; last month a sobbing Peters was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. to four years probation, a $10,000 fine and 500 hours of community service.
The trading cards that police distributed instead featured Linebacker Monte Coleman.
NO RUNAWAY, JUST RUNDOWN
At 3 a.m. on the day after the New York City Marathon, the mother of one of the competitors, a young man of about 20, phoned race headquarters with a plea for help. Her son, she said, had expected to complete the marathon in about four hours, but now, several hours after the last straggler had crossed the finish line, he still hadn't returned to their suburban Long Island home. The woman wanted race officials to call hospitals and police. A couple of hours later she called back in a far happier mood. It turned out that her son had finished the race but had been so sore-legged that when he came home, he didn't use the front entrance, which would have involved climbing steps. And he was so tired he didn't even make it to his bed. Mom found him asleep on a couch by the back door.
SQUARE RULE IN A ROUND CONUNDRUM
One of this season's new college football rules specifies that a player fielding a punt must be given at least a two-yard berth by would-be tacklers—whether or not he signals for a fair catch. But as Joe Keeton, an assistant coach at the University of Missouri at Rolla, a school that specializes in engineering and science, tried to go over that rule change at a team meeting, one player raised his hand and asked. "Coach, do we have to give that guy two yards square or a two-yard radius?"
"Just give the guy two yards, O.K.?" Keeton replied. "What's the difference?"
The player explained that a square in which a punt receiver was two yards from each side would encompass an area of 144 square feet, while a circle with a two-yard radius would amount to only 113.1 square feet. In other words, opposing players could get closer to the punt receiver under a two-yard-radius interpretation of the rule. Eventually, Keeton caught on to what his interrogator was saying, but he allows that it took awhile. "Only four people in a room of almost 100 didn't understand what he was talking about," he says. "And they were all coaches."
University of Delaware Athletic Director Dave Nelson, the secretary of the NCAA Football Rules Committee, conceded to SI's Armen Keteyian that the rule wasn't precise on the point. "It doesn't say anything about square or radius," Nelson says. "It just says you have to allow the player two yards." With a laugh, he added, "My question is, 'Does it cover two yards above and below the player?' I think it does, particularly where flying bodies are involved."
ONE LESS CRYSTAL-BALL GAZER
When former Ohio State Quarterback Art Schlichter, who had become a pro with the Baltimore Colts, was suspended by the NFL earlier this year for betting on NFL games, people in Columbus, Ohio recalled that, speaking of gambling, Buckeye Coach Earle Bruce was a frequent racegoer who had accompanied Schlichter to local tracks.
Last week, again speaking of gambling, Ohio State President Edward H. Jennings ordered Bruce to drop from his weekly show on Columbus station WTVN-TV a segment in which Bruce matched wits with fans in predicting the outcome of college games. Jennings acted after the NCAA notified the school that the "I Beat the Buckeye Coach" feature was "contrary to the spirit and intent" of NCAA rules and that "the principles of ethical conduct" prohibited coaches "from providing information to assist individuals involved in organized gambling activities."
Bruce, who had correctly picked 49 of 69 games on the show this season, protested that his crystal-ball gazing was "just a fun thing to do." He also pointed out that other coaches around the country have TV shows on which they pick winners. Nevertheless, he and WTVN-TV agreed to scratch the coach's predictions from the show; the station decided that the picks henceforth would be made by two sportscasters. As for Ohio State, Jennings accepted blame on behalf of the school for "failing to anticipate this problem and...failing to act on this matter sooner." That admission appeared to be, especially in view of the Schlichter matter and the rumors about Bruce's racetrack activities, a clear case of better late than never. Now if the NCAA would only get the word to other coaches who do the same thing.
THEY JUST GRIND IT OUT
Inspired by Air Coryell, the name given to the formidable passing game of Coach Don Coryell's San Diego Chargers, folks in Seattle have come up with a way of describing the strong running game that Seahawks Coach Chuck Knox has developed this seson. They call it Ground Chuck.
THE COMEBACK KID
It raised eyebrows last week—at least we lifted ours a bit—when Phillies Second Baseman Joe Morgan finished third in the balloting for the National League's Comeback Player of the Year award behind Phillie Pitcher John Denny and Met Outfielder George Foster. The 40-year-old Morgan placed high in the voting even though he didn't have a comeback in 1983. He had a comedown, from a .289 batting average the year before to an anemic .230 in '83. True, Morgan was hitting only .201 at the start of September, and one assumes that his torrid 29-point spurt during the final month was the reason that two sportswriters saw fit to vote for him (Denny received 25 votes and Foster three, with five players finishing behind Morgan with one vote each). Still, the award in question is supposed to honor the comeback of the year, not the month of September. Now, if some scribes vote for Morgan, who has been around the National League since 1963, as Rookie of the Year....
A MOST PRECOCIOUS LAD
In the interest of extolling exceptional athletes regardless of age, we hereby introduce Nolan Glantz (right), an eighth-grader at the Lakeland (N.Y.) Middle School. Nolan is all of 5'1" and 100 pounds, but last summer he won the American Amateur Racquetball Association championship for boys 12-and-under by scores of 15-1 and 15-3. Nolan, who can drive the ball a stunning 106 mph, also shared the doubles crown for the second time. He has won any number of other titles, including the New York State Open Men's B doubles.
Nolan is an academic star, too. He's in the National Junior Honor Society, was the top point-scorer on the school math team and has received get-acquainted letters from MIT and Cal Tech. Last December, while a seventh-grader, he scored 700 of a possible 800 on the math SAT, a test ordinarily administered to high school juniors and seniors, in Johns Hopkins' search for mathematically precocious youngsters. Along with his sister Anita, and three other Lakeland Middle School students, he participated in the Olympics of the Mind competition, and his team won the local, state and national titles in its division. He has played first cello in the school orchestra and now plays first violin.
Nolan, who recently turned 13, is planning to become a racquetball professional within the next two years so as to play in the Men's Pro division. He already has two sponsors, Footjoy shoes and Ektelon racquets. He more than holds his own now against most adults on the court, as witness the end of this poem that Louis Faiella, 35, wrote after getting drubbed by the lad:
Embarrassed by this carrottop
I quickly ran and hid,
And the only thing that I could say:
"Who was that ROTTEN KID?"
THEY SAID IT
•William Perry, Clemson middle guard, on the two-year TV and postseason ban imposed on the Tigers by the NCAA: "What makes it hard is that we can't watch television for two years."
•Ed Koch, New York City mayor, at a press conference for New York City Marathon winners Rod Dixon of New Zealand and Grete Waitz of Norway: "These are two marvelous New Yorkers, but they talk funny."