NEW EMERGING SPORTSMEN
Indonesia retained the Thomas Cup, symbol of world badminton supremacy, last week in Tokyo by beating Denmark 5-4, but the whole thing left a bad taste in everybody's mouth, except maybe Indonesia's. The initial sour swallow came when Indonesia at first refused to bring the Thomas Cup to Tokyo for the competition, causing one angry official to complain, "These people evidently regard the Thomas Cup as their own personal national treasure."
Then, during the finals between Indonesia and Denmark, Indonesian students in the crowd at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium shot off flashbulbs in the eyes of Danish players. Officials moved in to confiscate the flashbulbs, and an Associated Press photographer and two reporters rushed over to cover the incident. More than 100 Indonesian students poured out of the stands and attacked the AP men, beating and kicking them for five minutes before police were able to break up the struggle.
Danish Team Manager Kurt Moller said that he would protest to the International Badminton Federation and added, "The Indonesians didn't win on the court. Those crazy spectators won the Thomas Cup. It reminded me of the way young Germans behaved under Hitler."
Neutral observers were virtually unanimous in feeling that favored Denmark would have won the cup easily if it had not been for the behavior of the Indonesian students throughout the competition and especially on the final night. One shocked Japanese official said, "It's a good thing those bloody barbarians are not competing in the Olympics. If they were, we might never be able to hold the Games."
HORSES, HORSES, DOGS, DOGS
For kicks in New England they used to burn witches. Now they go to the races. On Memorial Day this year Suffolk Downs has a card of 11 races, starting at 1:30 p.m. Lincoln Downs, 60 miles away, has a doubleheader—nine races in the afternoon, beginning at 2 p.m., and nine races at night, beginning at 8 p.m. Two dog tracks in the same area, Wonderland and Raynham, have evening programs of 10 and 12 races each. An alert punter with good contacts has 51 chances to get well in less than 12 hours. Did someone say staid New England?
DANGER ON THE BEACH
Sumer is icumen in and bathers on Atlantic beaches are being warned once again about the dangers of picking up odd-looking objects on the shore. Each year since World War II there have been accidents when intriguing-looking Things have turned out to be explosives. Old mines have been drifting around since the war and many will make a landfall this year. They're usually about twice the size of a basketball. Equally dangerous are old marine markers, which contain explosive magnesium-based compounds. There is a wide variety of markers, but the most common is cylindrical in shape, about 18 inches long and three inches in diameter, housed in an aluminum or wood casing.
Don't touch them. Report them.
Floyd Patterson has fired his manager, Cus D'Amato. It was not unexpected. D'Amato has been the manager in name but not in fact the last two years. Last week Patterson killed what little chance there was of the two getting together again when he promoted Trainer Dan Florio to manager.
Boxing has always been a harsh sport, long on bitterness and short on loyalty. But Cus and Floyd seemed different. They were more like father and son than manager and fighter. D'Amato had signed Patterson with a handshake after Floyd had won the 1952 Olympics. Four years later he got Patterson the title fight with Archie Moore that made him, at 21, the youngest man ever to hold the heavyweight championship. D'Amato insisted on sharing the racial snubs Patterson had to endure. He gave up smoking and drinking to make abstinence easier for the fighter. He dedicated himself to making and keeping Patterson the champion. At times he was too dedicated; he was overly protective and too choosy in picking opponents. He may, as some critics think, have stunted Patterson's development. On the other hand, his caution may be the reason why Patterson held the title so long and made so much money from it.
Patterson has always appeared to be an honorable man and a thoughtful man—though, for a fighter, a curiously hypersensitive one. He must have sound reasons for firing his old friend. But whatever the reasons, he did not discuss them with D'Amato, nor did he tell Cus that he was fired. D'Amato learned of his dismissal from a reporter who called to get his reactions. "Floyd," said D'Amato, "may have his reasons for doing this—perfectly good reasons. Though the facts point to a complete falling out, I won't accept it until Floyd tells me face to face. That was our agreement."
NOBODY MAKES A MONKEY OF HIM
Psychologists at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, training 80 chimpanzees in symbol recognition for space research, are teaching their pupils games involving shapes, colors and numbers.
A chimp named Big Mean (some of the chimps have names like pool hustlers, whom they somewhat resemble) fleeces all comers, including a visiting Air Force general, at a game of squares and triangles. Zsa Zsa is fantastically accurate with numbers—when surrounded by admiring kibitzers. If an audience walks away, her score nose-dives.
Food pellets and mild shocks were originally used to train the chimps, but the psychologists have since discovered, to their fascination and ours, that competition is a strong motivating factor. Big Mean and Pale Face (a pallid chimp who, equipped with green eyeshade, would cause no comment at Las Vegas) were put in adjoining glass booths to play an electronic version of tic-tac-toe. The chimps learned that they were competing almost as soon as they learned to get three across. If one lost too often, he would stamp and scream and pound the window facing his opponent.
When Pale Face began to win every game, Big Mean no longer wanted to play. Pale Face stopped smirking and threw a few games to keep Big Mean interested. For those who may find the data useful, a recording tape shows that Pale Face discovered one win in every five was enough to keep the sucker in the game.
Just how human is he? wondered the psychologists. Will a chimp champ like Pale Face play the game for its own sake? They disconnected the reward circuit. The game went on, lights flashed, the loser scowled, the "reward" signal went on, but no banana pellet tumbled out of the slot.
Pale Face pounded the machine. He played again. He decided the machine had stopped paying off. He quit.
The kid had turned pro.
The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial a few weeks back about "the great golfing crisis" in New Jersey. The New Jersey Bureau of Statewide Planning said the state faced an alarming shortage of golf courses. The bureau said that the "recognized minimum standard" for golf courses is one hole for each 3,000 population, and that while New Jersey now has a surplus of 428 holes, this margin will turn into a shortage by 1970. The agency proposed that public agencies establish new courses, and that they buy up existing ones to keep them from falling prey to highway builders and land developers.
The Wall Street Journal seemed amused by all this and not much in favor, saying that though golf can be an exasperating game, "an even more exasperating game, at times, is the planners' drive to the taxpayers' green."
The Journal, in other words, is for golf but agin the government taking over golf. We can't fault the Journal on that attitude but if it comes to a choice between public ownership of a course and the green links turning into a housing development we go along with New Jersey's Bureau of Statewide Planning. Our affection for golf is not the only reason we feel this way. In many cities and towns the local golf course is the only broad open countryside left, the only acreage with stretches of parkland and trees and soft rolling hills. As such it benefits more than the golfer; it is part of the heritage of every passerby who pauses to admire the view.
SCIENCE RIDES AGAIN
Most people like water skiing and powerboats. Those who don't have tended to retreat to tiny landlocked lakes that are impractical for big-horse boats and long-tow skiers.
Alas, Eden will soon be invaded. A German thinker (possibly a relative of Dr. Strangelove) has invented a do-it-yourself water-skiing device. It looks like a cross between a small flying saucer with plow handles and a seagoing power motor. A shallow six-foot hull supports a 24-hp motor covered by a plastic dome. An eight-foot V at the rear ends in a control box with handlebar grips (right grip is throttle, left grip an on-off button; motor goes off automatically when skier lets go, as in a fall). The thing is called Ski-Craft and we are told that it sells for about $1,100.
With one of these beauties your really nutty water skier doesn't have to worry about his friend who drives the boat. He can get out on the lake by himself at sunrise if he wants, when the mist is burning off the mirror-smooth water and early-morning still-fishermen are having intimations of immortality. He can rev up his 24 horses and go roaring off by himself, hitting top speeds of 30 mph and making tight 14-foot-radius turns instead of the huge sweeping loops required with the customary long towline. It sounds like peachy fun.
We don't quite know how to explain all this to the still-fisherman.
Before he died General MacArthur established a shaky truce between the AAU and the NCAA-backed sports federations (such as the new U.S. Track and Field Federation) to guarantee a strong, united American team at the Tokyo Olympics. The truce remains in effect and we will have our best at Tokyo, but the feud is still simmering and it appears now that as soon as the Olympics end it will explode into open warfare. Last week the Big Ten, one of the most powerful of the college conferences, voted in a direct challenge to the AAU to declare ineligible any athlete who takes part in competition not sanctioned by the NCAA side, beginning next winter. More NCAA battle communiqués are expected to come out of a meeting in Denver in July of more than 25 college conferences.
Enjoy the Olympics, kids. Amateur sport may not be much fun these next few years.
Rugby is a bone-crushing game played in nonstop 45-minute halves with neither time-outs nor substitutes. After a game the teams applaud each other and convene at the nearest pub, where opponents compete to buy drinks for one another. Many Rugby players think this is the best part of the sport. "Oh, I've heard of the salaries your professional football players receive," said Brian Carlyle Henderson, 6-foot 2-inch, 211-pound insurance agent from Aberdeen, Scotland who plays center for the Scottish Internationals, currently on tour of Canada. "That's no for me. We play for fun. We played an international match in Scotland this year before 70,000 and dinna get a penny. We tear into each other and then we buy the other fellow a drink. I don't drink, mind you, but I'm pleased to buy him one. But if money were to come into Rugby I would no play. Once money gets into it, you're a pawn."
THEY SAID IT
•Andy Stynchula, pro football player, on the trade that sent him from the Washington Redskins to the New York Giants: "It was discouraging playing in Washington; the fans got to booing all the time and the acoustics at the new stadium are excellent."
•Bob Gibson, St. Louis pitcher, asked to comment on an outstanding catch by his roommate, Curt Flood: "A great catch is like watching girls go by—the last one you see is always the prettiest."
•George Benton, middleweight, after barely beating Johnny Morris of Pittsburgh: "That man was harder to hit than The Number."