TV: FRIEND OR FOE?
The average Englishman, a recent Gallup Poll indicates, prefers snoozing through summer Saturday afternoons to all other forms of recreation. The men who run the English Football League suspect that's what a lot of Englishmen have been doing on Saturday afternoons in fall and winter, too—instead of going to football (i.e., soccer) games. Ten years ago total attendance reached 41 million; by last season, it had fallen to 33 million.
To reverse this sleepy trend, the league last week abandoned one of its most cherished doctrines: Television is Bad for the Game. In return for ¬£150,000 ($420,000), it will permit live TV coverage of some 20 matches this season. But only a part of each game will be shown (five minutes of the first half and the whole of the second), and the televised matches will be played in the evening, so as not (theoretically) to interfere with more important games in the afternoon.
What the league hopes to do is attract an entirely new audience, "including millions of women who watch TV on Saturday nights." Accordingly, it will hand almost a third of its fee (¬£45,000) back to the TV companies to run commercials of its own. "How strange," the London Daily Mail remarked, "to see a great national game accepting a fat fee for allowing its supporters to be lured away, and then paying some of the money to the same agency to get them back."
The league's decision to embrace television is indeed a big gamble. Englishmen, when they do interrupt their snoozes these days, are almost certain to bowl or swim or golf. "If the masses are melting from the grandstand," the Daily Mail continued, "they are pouring into more personal pastimes.... The spectator is turning into the participant."
On the well-publicized list of heroes who seem likely to bring Pittsburgh its first pennant in 33 years, one
name is oddly absent. When the Pirates drafted Rocky Nelson from the minors two years ago, it barely caused a stir—except for an occasional snicker. Nelson, then 33, had previously failed in nine major league chances. But this year, when Dick Stuart went into a slump, Nelson took over a starting job at first base. He pushed
his batting average above .300, dug down for low throws with the suppleness of a youngster, poked out his chaw of tobacco at friend and umpire alike. "It's just what I've been saying all along," says Nelson, "nobody ever let me play regular before."
THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
Along the Campbell River, on Vancouver Island, B.C., the tyee salmon is known as the world's fightingest fish. Could be. Last week Dr. Millard Macavelia of Mount Vernon, Wash, hauled a 38-pound salmon into his boat. With one smash of his tail, the fish knocked the doctor's guide overboard. Dr. Macavelia leaned over the side to help and a second tailflip sent him into the water, too. The salmon then flipped the tackle overboard, the landing net settling securely over Dr. Macavelia's head.
In Michigan another fisherman was photographed with a 36½ pound northern pike (supposedly a state record). He sent the picture to a Chicago newspaper, which duly published it. Whereupon the Michigan conservation department regretfully reported that its operators had inadvertently poisoned the fish some time before. The "fisherman" had filched the frozen corpus from a conservation icebox. Despite a somewhat stiff appearance, everyone agreed the pike took a nice picture.
Ben Kerner, the impulsive owner of the St. Louis Hawks who was turned down when he offered $200,000 for Minneapolis Laker Star Elgin Baylor, has bought the portable basketball floor the Lakers used before moving to Los Angeles. "If we can't get Baylor," said Kerner, "we'll take the floor he played on."
Can 5,000 Frenchmen, all chefs and all members of the formidable La Societe des Cuisiniers de Paris, be wrong? Could be, writes Gourmet Robert Courtine in Paris' influential Le Monde. "Chefs and those who pride themselves on a knowledge of gastronomy will be up in arms," M. Courtine admits, but his shattering discovery is simply this: the best food is cold food.
" 'Hot food gives bulk, flesh and increases secretions,' " wrote Courtine, quoting a tract on cattle breeding. "'Cold food gives endurance and energy...and is suitable for working animals.' Why should man, considered as an animal, be any different from the others?"
Such heresy will stir the wrath of chefs, said Courtine, because "Cold food cannot stand up to mediocrity. An egg which is not of the first freshness would be tasted in a cold preparation." Is it not possible, Courtine needled, that great chefs prefer hot foods because they are merely lazy?
Courtine was not content to let the matter rest there. Not only should food be served cold, he said, but so, indeed, should red table wine. "Ask restaurateurs to put a bottle of red wine on ice, and they'll think you're crazy," he wrote. But the fact is that while room temperature was fine for wine in the days before central heating, room temperature now is far too hot. "Today," he concluded with a flourish, "we stupidly heat wine until it is undrinkable."
Twenty-three finalists—three of them women—puffed through the pipe-smoking championships of the world in Lancaster, Pa. last week, an event in which each contestant was given a pipeful of tobacco and a single match. The object: to keep sending up smoke as long as possible.
Ann Busselle of New York had tough luck at the start; she broke her match. Defending Champion Howard Resch of Flint, Mich, got overanxious, puffed himself out in 34 minutes 10 seconds. Edna Bohrer of Milwaukee, who takes off her shoes when she smokes, faded at 59 minutes 35 seconds. The winner was Richard Austin, also of Flint, who managed to make his 3.3 grams of tobacco last 85 minutes 10 seconds, thereby proving—well, what?
Australia's touring tennis stars have long been standoffish to their public. Just how standoffish was made clear again the other day at the Eastern Grass Court championships in South Orange, N.J. Tournament officials informed reporters that all interviews, no matter how informal, would have to be "cleared" through Aussie Team Captain Adrian Quist. "They're a strange breed of cats," muttered one official, "almost like the Russians. Nobody can say anything without Quist's O.K."
Why this conspiracy of silence? A knowing Australian newsman had the answer. "Our boys are simply inarticulate and immature. Our Lawn Tennis Association is afraid one of them will blurt out, 'They don't pay us enough money,' or something equally unfortunate.
"When Harry Hopman was captain the rule was really enforced. Hop-man was a bloody tyrant. Quist is a fine fellow really. And he has got a problem with these lads. Most of them wake up in the morning without knowing whether they're in Philadelphia or South Orange. That's a problem."
In Savannah up, up, up climbed Left-fielder Don Clendennon—up to the top of the four-foot outfield wall, up to rob Knoxville's Leo Smith of a home run. Funny but fair, ruled Sam Smith, president of the South Atlantic League. Couple of days later Savannah showed up in Knoxville. Propped against the outfield fences were three aluminum ladders. Funny but not fair, ruled Umpire Lou Isert, thumbing out the ladders.... In Duluth during a Class C Northern League game, four sportswriters were giving the umpire what-for. In retaliation the umpire, with one majestic sweep of his thumb, cleared the press box, sending sportswriters (and freedom of speech? or freedom of the press?) skulking off into the stands.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Floyd Patterson finally is getting $10,000 of the $15,000 held by California for income taxes after the Roy Harris fight two years ago, possibly because the champ recently indicated he did not care to fight in that state again....
Sugar Ray Robinson, who used to get away with nonappearances at scheduled fights when he was at the peak of his fame and power, was reinstated by the Maryland Athletic Commission after failing to show up for a fight in Baltimore, The commission said: "He's near the twilight of his career and we didn't want to stop him at this stage."
...Texas Oilman Powell Briscoe has swapped 120,000 Japanese golf balls, acquired in a recent business deal, with fellow Oilman E. L. Oliver, who has agreed to drill two oil wells in exchange. Explains Oliver: "The oil business is tough these days. I'll take anything I can get."
...Wealthy members of Olympia Fields Country Club near Chicago, happy to pay $1,000 each for the privilege of playing with their favorite pros, quickly paired off with the Venturis and Bolts and Olivers, but left several of the lesser-known visitors without partners. The top three finishers: Pros Dave Hilly, Bob Shave and Bob Nichols—all of whom played by their lonesome....
Sacha Distel, France's No. 1 jazz guitarist and Brigitte Bardot's No. 1 admirer, captained an all-star soccer team on the Riviera that tied St. Tropez 3-3. Enchanté with his prowess (he booted one of the goals) and "surprised by my own physical form," Sacha applied for a professional's license.