PUSH VS. PULL
The Trenton (N.J.) 100-mile national championship race bills itself as an Indianapolis "500" preview. This year's Brickyard curtain raiser offered more than stars and speed. There was a subplot: the drama of front- vs. rear-engine championship race cars. Both develop roughly the same power and, as 1961 Indy winner A. J. Foyt insists, "That little old engine don't know whether it is pushing you or pulling you." So the intrigue centers more on design (the rear-engine cars present a lower, faster silhouette), weight (the rear-engine cars average 300 pounds lighter) and maneuverability (the argument goes, hotly, both ways here). The Trenton preview, then, presented an advance look at what is certain to become a wonderful gang fight at Indianapolis.
The antagonists at Trenton were Foyt, generally accepted as a traditionalist front-engine man, against Rodger Ward, two-time Indy winner (he was a front man in those days himself) who is now a fervent convert to the rear-engine cars. Unfortunately, their test was not uncluttered.
Before a rainstorm slicked the track and interrupted the race at the 39-lap mark, Foyt and Ward ran 1 and 2 ahead of everybody (with Ward gaining slightly on each lap, perhaps), providing ammunition for both fore- and aft-engine loyalists. Then Ward ran into a snarl of spinning racers and bumped the side of his car. Not wanting to risk further injury to the Indy car, he voted not to continue. That gave the race to Foyt—who won in a burst of track records—but it did even more toward heightening the intrigue. The racing world now waits for the other motorized shoe to drop at Indy. In the May 30 runaround Ward may be able to prove his point.
For more than a century racing for the America's Cup has been controlled primarily by Britons, Bostonians and New Yorkers. The ritual called for one new challenger and at least one new contender for the defense. The rest of the world played golf. The pattern was broken in 1962 by Australia's bold and nearly successful challenge. This year Australia is backing a British boat, but the defense has been proceeding routinely. New York sedulously ordered two new boats while Boston thriftily dusted off a 1962 model to make an untidy threesome for the defense trials. Then, from out of the West, came Thomas Patrick Dougan, unknown, unannounced, to deal himself in at the last minute. With a mere handful of change (about $250,000) Dougan bought 6-year-old Columbia, and with her a readymade opportunity to defend the cup.
Whether they wear blue blazers or buckskins, we welcome the pioneers. The hand at the helm should not be governed by ritual but by the wind. And it is a fresh wind that blows out of the West.
A MOVE TO SPECTATORITIS
Perhaps no state produces more fine athletes than California—a tribute, no doubt, to a salubrious year-round climate and a geography that entices the individual to everything from skiing to surfing. Some of the state's sporting prowess may be due also to a school system requirement that one hour a day be given to physical education.
Now that daily hour is threatened. There is a move afoot to have shorter physical education periods (11 minutes has been mentioned) or perhaps have the hour-long period only one or two days a week. Furthermore, a committee of the Southern Section of the California Interscholastic Federation proposes a rule that would prohibit high school athletes from participating in organized sport between August 15 and the start of the school year one month later. "This would enable parents to take their youngsters on vacations and would give high school athletes a breather before the beginning of school in the fall," the committee explains.
Perhaps, but it does seem high-handed of the federation to tell a parent that his son cannot play on a camp or playground team or compete for his YMCA or country club. As Albert Schoenfield, editor of Swimming World, protests to us, "If the schools feel that a boy is too deep in athletics, then it would be best that they impose restrictions while he is in school under their control."
As for the shortened physical education period, one hopes phys ed teachers will express their views. President Kennedy left them some formidable arguments in favor of more, not less, physical education.
FOR WANT OF A FRIEND
The ease with which Cassius Clay, heavyweight champion of the world, flunked his Army induction tests has caused some to doubt and, on the other hand, some to admire, his mental ability. Willie Mays, who went through it all, too, has other thoughts.
"Cassius, he's no dope," Mays holds. "You make more money outside the Army."
Then Mays reminisced about his own experience with the strange ways of military induction.
"I took my physical down in Birmingham," he said. "I passed that real easy. Then they gave me the written tests. There was this big sergeant standing there next to me all the time I was taking the examinations. I'd write down an answer and he'd tap me and shake his head. I'd write down another one and he'd shake his head. He just waited until I had the right answer written down.
"I guess Cassius didn't have no friendly sergeant around."
The day after the death of Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, the dramatic warning against the persistency of some pesticides, the Senate subcommittee investigating Miss Carson's charges heard Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman admit that jurisdictional jealousies among government bureaucracies have prolonged the indiscriminate use of dangerous chemicals.
Specific case at issue was the poisoned lower Mississippi River, from St. Louis to New Orleans, where some five million fish have died in the last year. Early last winter the Public Health Service found evidence that endrin, a long-lived toxic pesticide that washes off cropland into rivers, had in all probability poisoned the fish. The Department of Agriculture, which is supposed to control dangerous pesticides, did not learn of this until the final public report, which definitely implicated endrin, was released March 19. Even now, however, the department continues to register endrin as a pesticide.
Hoping to end the long-standing squabble among the Department of Agriculture, the Public Health Service, the Department of the Interior and the Food and Drug Administration over control of pesticides, the President's Science Advisory Committee got the agencies to draw up an agreement for formal exchange of information last spring. That agreement was finally signed into effect only two weeks ago. Why the delay? "Because of the usual pulling, tugging and hauling that goes on between government departments," said Freeman.
Despite the possibility that pesticides like endrin can be used safely, their control is scarcely a matter to be entrusted to farmers and pharmaceutical manufacturers. The responsibility lies in the hands of government for the protection of all the people and all the people's resources. Certainly, sooner or later, safe pesticides and safe methods of their use will be developed and their employment, one hopes, will be restricted to the elimination of genuinely obnoxious pests. Bureaucrats, for instance.
THE POND SURFERS
With all the records and statistics compiled these days, it is hard to believe that a new sport could be born without someone recording date and place of birth, and names of proud parents. But it has happened. The sport of waking—riding a surfboard in the wake of a powerboat—was born at some vague time in the past 10 years, probably in southern California. Marge Calhoun, who won the 1958 international women's surfing title in the big natural waves off Makaha Beach, remembers riding wakes eight or 10 years ago, but insists others preceded her. Whenever it began, the sport is now spreading from the West Coast to inland lakes and risers far from the sound of surf.
Waking is easier to learn than riding natural waves. Start lying down, holding onto a tow line, and, once underway, get to your feet in a leisurely manner. When the board takes the energy of the wake, east off. A speed of seven or eight knots is probably enough.
No modern waker riding a small, artificial wave can expect to achieve the reputation of the old natural surfers like Duke Kahanamoku, who, according to the legends that still swirl around him, once rode a wave one mile from the out-side break at Waikiki clean through the lobby of the Moana Hotel and onto Kalakaua Avenue.
WALL STREET ON THE BALL
The Wall Street Journal, always alert to trends in business, reports that there has just arrived on the Manhattan market a new kind of liquid-center golf ball. The liquid is Scotch and ii is held to be "inspirational." The Journal also notes that Cartier's Paris store sells a solid gold ball for testing caviar. If the ball sinks when placed on a mound of caviar, send the stuff back. The ball should float.
MUSH FOR TOURISTS
For hardy tourists who like to stretch winter out until the end of June, a dog team travel service has been opened in Churchill. Man., making round-trip tours from the Hudson's Bay seaport of Churchill to Fort Prince of Wales, a historic site about three miles across the rocky, frozen mouth of the Churchill Riser, for $5 an adult and child can ride in the same sled and make a 2½-hour round trip drawn by five dogs.
The sleds are available only on weekends, when the teams would otherwise be laid up from trapping. And there is no need to worry about breaking through the ice, since it does not go out of the harbor until late June.
THE SPICE OF VARIETY
Training for main sports is drudgery, and the best that can he said for it is that it toughens the soul. It adds little, though, to the athlete's appreciation of the joy that may he achieved in sport. Within recent days a couple of authorities have suggested that some sports can complement each other and, through variety, end the monotony.
Thus Johnny Dee, the new Notre Dame basketball coach, has started a boxing program for his squad. The idea is that boxing lessons, apart from giving the basketball player a new talent, will improve his footwork, balance and speed of hand. And it just might help: take better care of themselves in today's free-swinging basketball, in which the new international rules permit more and more body contact, especially under the boards.
Going along with Dee in principle is Art Guepe, former football coach at Virginia and Vanderbilt, now commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference, He suggests that lacrosse, played in the spring, would break up the monotony of football training but keep players in sharp condition.
"During the last 10 years," says Guepe, "the fun has disappeared from football for the boys. By the time the players arc seniors, they're fed up with the game."
Not so fed up are their coaches, who, seeking perfection, insist on what amounts to football all year long.
"Actually," Guepe answers, "I don't think it would hurt one bit to abolish spring training and play lacrosse instead. If all schools quit spring practice, or some of the conditioning and other drills, teams might not be as polished, but, who'll know the difference?"
It will astonish many a hunter to learn that the number of deer killed by automobiles on U.S. highways each year exceeds 70,000. The figure was arrived at in a survey of slate conservation departments undertaken by Fred Thompson of New Mexico's Department of Game and Fish. The highest estimate, 24,000 annually, was given by New York. Pennsylvania reported 12,153 deer killed by cars in 1963.
Not a great deal is being done (except putting up "Deer Crossing" signs) to prevent the killings. A few states use culverts as underpasses on migration routes, with game fences to divert deer into the underpasses.
Thompson recommends that the "Deer Crossing" signs be augmented by markers advising motorists of the distance over which deer may be expected on the highway. He also says that salt, when used on highways, should be treated with deer repellent, that dense woods should be cleared back from the right-of-way and that when deer are known to cross a road for water, watering devices should be established to make this unnecessary.
One more suggestion. Why not require motorists to reduce speed in deer crossing areas?
STAR IN SIGHT
A man who made the U.S. Olympic basketball team the hard way was George Wilson, who had played three seasons of stand-out basketball at the University of Cincinnati but usually gave way to more publicized teammates when it came time for All-America selections. It was no surprise when NCAA selectors bypassed Wilson and invited his teammate, Ron Bonham, to join assembled NCAA stars for tryouts.
So Wilson joined an AAU team (Jamaco Saints of Chicago), went to the AAU tourney with the Saints and made an AAU all-star team that competed in the final trials in New York against NCAA, service, small-college teams and other AAU stars. There Wilson's rebounding and defensive play won him one of 12 berths on the team that will represent the U.S. in Tokyo.
Bonham did not make the Olympic squad, nor did a flock of other NCAA players who had been selected over Wilson in the first place. And now there is speculation that Wilson, rather than Bonham, may be the Cincinnati Royals' territorial choice in the coming National Basketball Association draft.
THEY SAID IT
•Nathaniel Avery, caddie for Arnold Palmer in his four victorious Masters tournaments: "We work as a team; I pick most of the clubs and Mr. Palmer makes the shots."
•Jack McMahon, Cincinnati Royal coach, asked what was the turning point when his team suffered a 109-95 defeat by the Boston Celtics and was ousted from the NBA playoffs: "When Bill Russell put on his shoes this morning."
•Billy Herman, Boston Red Sox coach, pondering the powder-blue uniforms of the Chicago White Sox and the green-and-gold of the Kansas City Athletics: "They got to put them in a circus tent when they play each other."