THE NEW TRADITION
Golfers with any sense of tradition must have felt a bit empty when the United States Golf Association drastically changed the format of the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur championships last week. It was obvious that the changes were made primarily to enhance televising of the tournaments. So once again, lamentably, television reshapes a sport.
The grand distinction of the U.S. Open was that its final 36 holes were played in one day through which the winner not only had to display the best possible golf but nerve and stamina as well. For 40 years this format was a key element in setting the U.S. Open apart from the Hupmobile Classic, the Pop Bottle Open and whatever else the pros compete in week after week. Now, says the USGA, the Open championship, the most important golf event in the world, will be played like any other tournament, 18 holes a day for four days, finishing on a nice televisable Sunday.
The U.S. Amateur underwent an even more drastic change. Staged at match play since it began in 1895, it has been shifted to 72-hole medal (stroke) competition.
Executive Director Joseph C. Dey Jr. tried hard to make the moves seem for the better. "Increasingly slow play has made the 36-hole Saturday too much of an endurance test—more than eight hours on the course for each player," he said. "As for the Amateur, we've finally decided that stroke play is the best and most conclusive way to determine a golf champion." Maybe so, but it seems strange that it took 69 years to decide this.
"The changes may be deplorable as far as tradition is concerned," Dey said, "but in the context of the times they were the correct thing to do."
Now if Joe Dey, one of the finest administrators in the history of sport, is known for anything, it is for his stern and proper respect for tradition. It must have pained him to use that phrase: "in the context of the times." At the risk of sounding like old fogies, we feel that a great part of sport—every sport—is tradition. We are tired of the way traditions are being constantly cast aside in the name of TV for a dollar or a popularity race or whatever adds up to "the context of the times." As for golf and the USGA's changes, Joe Dey himself used the right word—"deplorable."
LESS DDT, MORE FISH
Things are looking up at Maine's Sebago Lake, where the world's largest landlocked salmon (22 pounds 8 ounces) was taken back in 1907, before DDT. In recent years fewer and fewer salmon have been caught there (SCORECARD, July 15, 1963), and the size of the fish has declined as well—at least in part attributable, according to fisheries biologists, to the spraying of insecticides along the lake's shores.
Now comes the cheery word that the DDT content of Sebago's salmon is decreasing. The average content found during the 1964 spawning run was 1.76 parts per million, compared to 3.22 in fish taken in 1963. Decreases in related hydrocarbons were even greater. Furthermore, the largest fish taken last year weighed 7 pounds 14 ounces, as against a record of 5 pounds 5 ounces the year before. And the spawning run of smelts, which constitute the salmon's principal feed, was the largest since 1957. Seventy per cent of salmon had smelts in their stomachs, compared to 38% the year before.
Insecticides people have denied that their products were responsible for the earlier difficulties, but the fact is the upturn began only after air spraying was stopped. Arguments aside, Sebago's improvement is good news for fishermen, who had all but given up on the famous old lake.
STILL WITH HONOR
Around the Air Force Academy, shaken by a cheating scandal involving 100 or more cadets, there is an air of "shame and embarrassment," an old civilian friend noted last week, but there is something else, too. A sellout crowd of some 2,200—500 more than the season's average—attended the Brigham Young University basketball game at the academy gym Saturday night and it cheered the cadets as they have seldom been cheered before. Obviously the crowd was there to demonstrate unflagging support for the innocent.
Brigham Young won 110-77, against a cadet team that was minus three starting players for reasons unexplained but easily guessed. Even in the pregame warmup it was apparent that the Air Force Falcons were off in their timing. Easy layups and routine shots rolled away from the basket. The crowd cheered anyhow.
"I have two friends who are high-ranking officers," the civilian friend said. "Have lunch with them a couple of times a week. Now they won't even talk to me. They won't even answer their phones when I call."
A cadet told his parents that the "whole wing is disgusted, infuriated and ashamed" over the cheating scandal.
"We certainly hope the academy won't get the bad name of 4% of its cadets—former cadets," he said.
There is no reason why it should.
KIWI SPORTING LOOK
Hopping about the valleys and foothills of Waimate, New Zealand is a wallaby wearing a sports jacket and carrying in it a wallet containing the equivalent of $112 in New Zealand pounds.
Wallabies, a kind of pint-sized kangaroo, were introduced from Australia years ago, on the theory that they might be amusing animals to have around. They increased, multiplied and became a pest. Now they are heavily hunted.
Two hunters shot one recently and, to add a light touch to a snapshot for the folks back home, slipped it into a sports jacket. At the click of the camera, the wallaby, which had been only stunned, took off with an enormous bound. It has not been sighted since.
A college girl's place is in the sorority house, athletic directors of the Southeastern Conference have decided. Hereafter, female athletes of the SEC will no longer be permitted to compete against men in intercollegiate matches.
One of the reasons would appear to be Roberta Alison, University of Alabama tennis player, who leads the league in making martyrs out of males.
Consider the case of Vanderbilt's Ken Chapin.
"As we walked onto the court," he said, "I held the gate open for her. That was my first mistake." He lost the first nine games, he explained, only because he couldn't really get mad at Roberta. "Once you get past her forehand, she's pretty cute," he said. She beat him, two sets to one.
Her crushed Amherst opponent stumbled off the court muttering: "I am not embarrassed. I am not embarrassed. I am not...."
An outwardly calm Auburn player said, "I don't plan to quit because I lost to her. I really don't." Then he smashed his racket to bits.
NAMES WRIT IN WATER
Between rounds of a flyweight bout in Philadelphia's ancient Blue Horizon Arena one of Tommy Tucker's seconds told him to "keep pressing this bum." Tucker was indignant. "He's not a bum," he said vehemently. "He's a damn good fighter."
Tucker was right. Joe Robey's speed and sharp jabs gave him a three-round decision.
Afterward, to the amazement and embarrassment of officials, Tucker and Robey confessed that they are brothers.
"Some people frown on the idea of one brother fighting another," Robey explained. "That's why we use different names. But who else are we going to fight? We're flyweights [112-pounders] and our breed's almost extinct."
To add to the confusion, both boys have the name "Tucker" tattooed on their right shoulders.
"The reason for the tattoos," explained a neighbor, "is that the boys take turns being Tommy Tucker."
The real family name? Robez.
WEATHER REPORT: STILL CLOUDY
The sentencing of 10 British soccer players for parts they played in fixing matches has by no means ended the matter, according to detectives who worked on the case and some others in the know. One detective has a dossier containing the names of many other players who as yet have missed standing in the dock. "Only the cream of the conspiracies has been skimmed," says another officer.
If they are right, then the words of Joe Richards, president of the English Soccer League, are pious nonsense. "It is a relief that all this has been cleared up," he said. "It has been a black cloud over the game."
The cloud remains. British soccer might well consider the experience of American baseball, which went through a similar experience in the days of the Black Sox, and moved, not with words but with drastic reorganization, to restore the confidence of its supporters.
BIG BEN AND LITTLE BOB
A man named Bob Peters is courting obloquy by trying to belittle Ben Hogan. Hogan needs no identification. Peters is manager of the Fort Lauderdale Country Club, site of the Teacher's Trophy Senior Championship (for golfers 50 or over) to be played there in late February. He is furious because Hogan declined to play in the tournament. He accused Hogan of "ingratitude to the game which made him."
Hogan is the last person to need anyone to hold his coat for him, but anger impels us to say a few words in his behalf. At 52, he still can hit the ball as well as anyone—maybe better—though his putting leaves something to be desired. He has justifiable pride in his ability. But he has no desire to perform in public unless he is at his peak. A fortnight ago, for instance, he chose to follow along with the galleries at the Crosby when he would have been more than welcome as a contestant. After the long winter layoff, he explained, his game was simply not in shape. Bing Crosby, himself a fine sportsman, understood and sympathized. Who would want to hear a Caruso with laryngitis?
Peters obviously has no comprehension of what it is to be a Hogan. This is one golfer who has earned the right to compete when and where he chooses.
TRY, TRY AGAIN
Most fishing tournaments are a bore, designed more to promote resort areas than to give enjoyment to anglers. The International Tuna Cup Matches—launched in 1937 and continued, except for World War II years, until 1959—were no exception, but in 1953 they did attract to the Nova Scotia grounds no fewer than 10 teams: Mexico, France, Argentina, The Netherlands, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, Britain and the U.S. Prospects seemed exciting, but the total catch that year was four tuna. In succeeding years it became apparent that the tuna were no longer interested in the waters off Wedgeport, Nova Scotia. The tournament was abandoned.
Now the Board of Governors of the ITCM is braving it again. Convinced that tuna will be found somewhere between Wedgeport and Halifax, they have expanded the fishing area. In next August's renewal of the tournament, boats will be permitted to seek their tuna all along the winding coast, on the board's conviction, based on some recent Provincial tuna statistics, that somewhere the contestants should wind up with fish.
We hope so. If successful, the tournament should be an inspiration to non-competing anglers to go after one of the great game fish of the sea on their own, without the inducement of prizes and publicity.
THEY SAID IT
•Ed McLemore, Dallas wrestling promoter: "Why, they've accused me of all kinds of put-up jobs. They've even said I used 'blood capsules' to make my wrestlers look bloody. But I've looked all over for them, and I can't find such a thing anywhere."
•Ron Taylor, St. Louis Cardinal relief pitcher, discussing former teammate Stan Musial: "He was just tremendous, but we usually went different ways. He'd go to the bank, and I'd go to the finance company."
•Boyd Coffie, Rollins College basketball coach, after his team lost 75 of its last 85 games: "We have a few problems."
•George Terry, West Point football aide, when asked to comment on Bill Elias, new head coach for Navy: "He's a good dresser and he is also very articulate."