A cry has been raised in the West against what would appear to be a discriminatory move on the part of the International Amateur Athletic Federation to devaluate the magnificent decathlon performance (9,121 points) of UCLA's C. K. Yang last spring (SI, May 6). The feeling is that the IAAF, in preparing a revision of the decathlon point scale for the 1964 Olympics, will legislate unfairly against the fiberglass pole and thereby deliberately reduce, retroactively, Yang's extraordinary score in the pole vault.
Not so. The IAAF, for some 50 years, has scanned the point allotments for decathlon performances with a view to keeping each of the 10 events in proper relation to each other and to the world level of performance in that event. The pole vault record has skyrocketed from 15 feet 9¼ inches to 16 feet 8 inches in less than two years on the impetus provided by the fiberglass pole; obviously, Yang's 15-foot 10½-inch effort in his world record performance is not worth as much as a 15-foot 1-inch vault on steel in the days when the record was 15 feet 9. Yet Yang was awarded 1,515 points for his vault, an astronomical figure. This defeats the purpose of the decathlon, which is, after all, to measure the all-round ability rather than unduly rewarding a man's specialty.
Man's skills and abilities change with new instruments and improvements in personal techniques, thus values in the 1,500-meter run, the 400-meter run, the broad jump, the discus and shot, among others will be scaled down, too, since the records in those events have been significantly bettered since 1952, the last time the IAAF set up new scoring tables.
July 7, 1963
The brickbats always fly when these decathlon tables come up for revision. People forget that a scoring table is a mathematical attempt to evaluate the effort and skill required of a modern Hercules as he performs his 10 labors. Actually the broad spectrum of ability tested by the two-day, 10-event program is a safeguard against any athlete getting a victory solely on excellence in one or two events. The new scoring, if adopted, will reduce Yang's total below 9,000 points. It will not, however, alter the fact that Yang, under any scoring system, is still the best all-round track athlete in the world today.
Fearful, and justifiably so, that the gambling disclosures that shook the National Football League could just as easily happen to them, the major leagues have intensified an undercover we-can't-comment-about-it-but drive to disassociate their players, coaches and umpires from untidy elements. In at least two big league towns—Kansas City and Milwaukee—certain popular "spots" have been declared off limits, principally because they are frequented by gamblers. Two in Milwaukee figured in the NFL's investigation. Nine in Kansas City reportedly have been blackballed, including one which was visited more than once by suspended Halfback Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers when he was stationed at Fort Riley. The ball clubs are understandably reluctant to announce the names of the restaurants (or cocktail lounges), but the players know which ones they mean—or had better.
Bob Allen sometimes looked like a man who had just got back from hell. His tan was a foot thick. It was hard to tell where he ended and his cigar began. He prowled such impossible places as the Canadian Northwest near Great Slave Lake and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast, looking for—and studying—the whooping crane, rarest of birds. Often he dropped into the wilds from a helicopter. He spent months on desolate Inagua Island, southernmost of the Bahamas chain, in search of the breeding ground of the American (or West Indian) flamingo, which is a threatened species. He caught tularemia from handling an infected jack rabbit. In order to combat this and various other illnesses, some of which he contracted in the field, his doctor put him on an unusual regimen of fasting 16 hours a day. He hated an office so much that he built a roost on top of his house in Tavernier in the Florida Keys. Friends were concerned. They feared a hurricane would come someday and blow him and all his books and valuable records into the sea.
Last week Robert Porter Allen, ornithologist, winner of the John Burroughs Association Medal for conservation and former research director of the National Audubon Society, died at 58. No one can be sure what motivates a man like Bob Allen, for the love of the search and compassion for things wild are rare in a man, but if we could write his epitaph it would be to recall his fight to keep the whooping crane from being rounded up and jammed into a zoo. Preserve and protect our rare birds, said Allen, but, keep 'em flying.
BIG BREAK FOR A READER
Judging by the mail we receive, a good many readers find SPORTS ILLUSTRATED helpful in one way or another. Sometimes the acknowledgment comes in a different form. A case in point is a brand-new book by J. Campbell Bruce entitled A Farewell to The Rock; Escape from Alcatraz (McGraw-Hill, $5.50).
As many difficult men had before him, writes Bruce, Frank Lee Morris checked into Alcatraz to consider his sins. But Morris did not stay nearly as long as was intended. An unusually intelligent felon (IQ: 133), Morris put himself on a vigorous reading program. First, a book on structural engineering—how to break, down, burrow through and otherwise get out from inside reinforced concrete. Then he learned a few things from Popular Mechanics—we do not hesitate to give due credit—about water wings and life rafts. And finally, according to page 213: "Thumbing through SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for May 21,1962, he found a fascinating section on Joys of Water with a piece on boating and...color illustrations of channel buoys indicating proper course and warning of navigation hazards."
Shortly thereafter, Frank Lee Morris, bank robber and SI reader with a purpose, cracked The Rock. In the year since, the Feds have tried to convince themselves that Morris drowned in the cold, vicious currents between Alcatraz, Angel's Island and Point Bonita. We, however, have far more confidence in our boating readers.
THE RICH GET RICHER
There evidently is no end to the golden reign of golf's Big Three. Final plans have now been made for a two-day exhibition match among Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player at Chicago's Glen Flora Country Club on September 1 and 2. The purse: $50,000.
DAVIS AND GOLIATH
There comes a time in every man's life when the Grand Opportunity arrives, and to take advantage he must, in a manner of speaking, comb his hair with his hand. Such a now-or-never came recently for Bruce Davis, age 31, who for two years had been stalking a magnificent 12-point stag in the bush near his backwoods farm in remote Te Horo, New Zealand. Undiscouraged, but also unrewarded, he was mustering his sheep one day when his dogs suddenly ran the stag out of nowhere into a gully smack in front of him. There they stood, amazed, Davis with his gun back home on the mantel and his mind's eye filled with those beautiful antlers—and his thoughts racing with stories of the unfortunate men before him who had tried to tackle a big stag without a gun.
No decision was necessary. The stag charged. "I was on a narrow track, so there was nothing I could do but meet him," said Davis, who did—with his chest. Luckily he was wearing heavy clothes and the tines only jolted and bruised him. He grabbed for the antlers and held on. Thus embraced, the beast and the battered thrashed around for 10 minutes. The sheep dogs were in a frenzy but were only a nuisance. Finally Davis got behind the stag's head and, thrusting his weight forward onto the antlers, forced the head down into the ground. His face was now bloodied from a cut over his eye. His body ached. But balanced on top of the antlers, holding on with one hand, he at last managed to reach the knife at the back of his belt and dispose of his attacker.
Most fishermen look back to their bachelor days with longing, but it's a wonder Leon Cote got any fishing done at all without Mrs. Cote. Mr. Cote of Old Town, Maine, found Abercrombie & Fitch in his wife's bureau drawer. He sharpens his hooks with Mrs. Cote's emery boards. He touches up chipped spots on his wobblers with Mrs. Cote's clear nail polish. He trims floss with her manicure scissors, swipes feathers from her hats and fur from her coats for tying flies and bucktails and has made the valuable discovery that a rubber girdle can be sliced down to skirts and strips for pickerel and bass lures. Mr. Cote borrows Mrs. Cote's silver polish to brighten spoons and spinners and her tablespoons to use as scalers, and he reverses the vacuum cleaner hose to dry out wet and clammy boots.
Two questions: Has all this made Leon Cote a better man? Or is he just as crummy as other husbands when Mrs. Cote needs his razor to cut the shelf paper?
We bet you didn't realize that baseball is a fatal combat involving the unconscious fantasy of the son's triumph over the father. Well, neither did we. But this is the way Dr. Thomas A. Petty of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich, described the game to a meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association in St. Louis not long ago.
The essence of baseball, according to a report on Dr. Petty's paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is "the duel between the father (pitcher) and the individual son (batter)." The violence of the combat is concentrated in the contact between the ball and the bat. "The killing is represented by the explosive contact between bat and ball. The retaliatory threat is epitomized by the 'beanball.' "
And what are the fans doing while all this blood-letting is going on down on the field? Why, acting out the totem feast, of course. The hour at which the game is played and its usual duration, Dr. Petty feels, bring it into juxtaposition with a meal or snack time. "Fans...eat tremendous quantities of popcorn, hot dogs, etc., and drink enormous volumes of pop, beer, etc., [all of] which often assumes the aspects of a totem feast for player and spectator alike. Thus the guilt is shared and dissipated."
All we can say is: Hit the ball! Eat that hot dog! Share that guilt!
STAY AFTER SCHOOL
The red LLL plates draped fore and aft on the body of the smart, purple motor scooter indicated that the driver was strictly a beginner. Cyril Smith, chief driving examiner at Britain's Ministry of Transport, watched closely as the driver confidently negotiated the scooter around the building test circuit. Then Examiner Smith signaled the end of the test, and the scooter driver pulled up to receive the jolt of his life. He had failed.
The man had driven more than 750,000 miles, but he reacted just like any Sunday driver. "I suppose I didn't give enough hand signals or look around often enough," he complained. "I don't see why I should. I think people go through all that neck stretching and hand flapping just to please the examiner." Said Examiner Smith: "Stirling Moss flunked his examination. That's all there is to it."
THEY SAID IT
•Jim Umbricht, Houston Colt pitcher, after his team had scored one run in 66 innings: "I have to pitch tonight. We drew straws and I got the short one."
•Tony Lema, after finishing his third round in the Cleveland Open tied with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus: "They're in pretty good company."
•Mamie Van Doren, after her disengagement from Bo Belinsky: "I'll send his ring back. He bought it on credit and he needs the money."
•Jim Gentile, Baltimore Oriole first baseman, discussing the possibility that Bill Dailey, Minnesota relief pitcher, is using a spitter: "I can't say for sure, but a couple of times after hitting against him I noticed my bat was warped."
•Ed Bailey of the San Francisco Giants, notified of his selection as the starting catcher on the National League All-Star team: "I can't even make our club. How could I have made that one?"