BUILDING UP THE BOWLS
The nearest thing to a national championship playoff in college football is one of the postseason bowl games—when it matches the right teams. This seldom happens, because the competition among the bowls to get outstanding teams had led the sponsors into the trap of inviting schools when their seasons are little more than half completed. In other words, bowls without conference commitments—the Sugar, Orange and Gator, for example—will gleefully make a firm deal any year a name team like Alabama has a 5-0 record, gambling that the Crimson Tide will win most of its remaining games. These gambles can backfire.
Happily for those of us who would like to seen national show down in the bowls every year, the NCAA has taken a step in that direction. Starting this year no bowl may issue an invitation—officially or privately—before the third Monday in November or on the Monday before a team's final regular game, whichever comes later.
The rule should work, because the NCAA is dealing from strength. Each year all bowl games must come up for certification, and if the NCAA finds proof that a sponsor has quietly issued illegal imitations, that bowl runs the risk of being outlawed.
"This rule has a chance because the bowls themselves want it, "says Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles, a frequent bowl visitor. "This is a good rule."
We quite agree. We look forward to more meetings between 9-1 and 10-0 teams and fewer involving a couple of 7-3s that were selected in mid-October and then began to tail off.
ENTER AL DAVIS
In his first statements after moving into Joe Foss's old office as commissioner of the American Football League, 36-year-old Al Davis predictably called for warfare all along the line. Sounding somewhat like a spurned lover crying, "Who needs you?" Davis announced that he is opposed to a merger with the NFL. "I really don't care much about the other league," Davis said. "As a coach [and general manager at Oakland] I felt a merger would hurt us."
Considering NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle's constant refusal even to discuss the issues with the AFL, the attitude of Davis is understandable. But there is a possibility that the new AFL posture is merely a matter of tactics, an attempt to accomplish with a tough policy what was not accomplished with an amiable one.
The AFL, fighting to build up its TV rating as well as its ticket sales, will attack the NFL with all the tricks the ingenious Davis can think of. Included are expansion to at least three more cities (among them, the NFL bastion, Chicago), more effective scouting systems, more money to be spent on signings and a baby-sitting system such as the one the NFL uses for hiding players during drafting time. The result is likely to cost owners in both leagues millions of dollars and provoke increasing unrest among veterans.
Well, that's tough. But we are sorrier for pro-football fans who are not getting the championship game they want and are entitled to expect.
If those Canadian kids are really in better shape than our kids—and they look better to Seattle's physical-education chief, William Haroldson—there may be a way to catch up. The secret could be the new "agility apparatus" that has become the school rage in Canada.
Haroldson imported one and last week introduced it on a trial basis at Seattle's Sacajawea Elementary School. It is a sort of super jungle gym, requiring 40 feet of wall space and an 18-foot ceiling. It folds out to nine feet in width, like a piece of modern walk-in sculpture, and features ladders, rings, parallel bars, balance benches, windows, climbing ropes and a cargo net.
According to Haroldson, the gym can increase a child's grace and agility as no other device is able to. More than 200 are in Canadian schools, and the factory has a backlog of orders for more. Haroldson hopes to equip all Seattle schools with them.
It is catching on already. Sacajawea youngsters took one look at the gym and swarmed into it. Now the teachers, who usually can take jungle gyms or leave them alone, are talking about sending the kids home early so they can play on it themselves.
THE COATHANGER OLYMPICS
Stuffing phone booths is Out. Skateboarding is Out. Swallowing goldfish is way, way Out. Knibbling is In. The fount of American Knibbling (pronounced with a hard K) is Baltimore, and students at Johns Hopkins University and the nearby College of Notre Dame are its prophets.
A Knibbler takes a wire coathanger and bends it into a square. The hanger then is held upside down by an index finger. A coin (Swiss francs are most stable, but a penny will do nicely) is then balanced horizontally on the very tip of the hanger hook. The idea is to twirl the hanger around the finger in a vertical plane and keep the coin in place by centrifugal force. That part is easy; the real test comes in slowing down and stopping the Knibbling Hook. Next, one must start it up again or reverse it with the coin still balanced.
"Hopkins students hold all the world records in this new sport," says Henry M. Hocherman, a 19-year-old sophomore and captain of the school team. He is captain because he can Knibble with three hangers hung in tandem. Hopkins players claim to have balanced as many as eight pennies in one Knibble. And at Hopkins a Master Knibbler is one who can spin a large coin balanced atop a smaller one.
Since no athletic mark goes unchallenged, the Hopkins boasts will surely be met, perhaps surpassed. If so, do not call us. We'll call you.
THE FRINGED BENEFITS
Win the Greater Dallas Golf Open, the sponsors announced, and you win more than money. To promote Big D as a city of fashion as well as a sports center, free wardrobes were given to wives of the first three finishers. The winner's share was $1,250 worth of clothes, and the day after he shot a 276 Roberto De Vicenzo showed up at the store as a champion golfer—and an average husband. He didn't know his wife's sizes.
Wife Delia was back home in Buenos Aires. "I saw a little girl out there about the size of Delia," said Roberto helpfully, nodding toward the street. "But I'd have to hug her to make sure." However, Roberto had to go it alone. How about that $250 white evening gown? "Ah, that would be very good," said Roberto. "But it would be better with Delia inside." Wrap it up. A $25 backless creation? He took that, too. Within 30 minutes Roberto had added a pair of $125 cocktail dresses, assorted daytime numbers and lingerie. The least expensive item in the package was a $10 pair of walking shorts. "Delia will be a very surprised girl," he said.
Pleased, yes. Surprised, no. Winner De Vicenzo may be as naive about that as he was about the sizes. The rules had said the winner could shop for the lady of his choice. And as one tournament wife purred sweetly, "I had better be the lady of his choice."
A SMALL GRIPE
Billy Gaines is mad, and we don't blame him. Billy is New Jersey's fastest-moving object west of the foreign diplomats on the Jersey Turnpike. He is a sophomore sprinter at Clearview Regional High School and is playfully called Peanuts by his admirers because he stands only 5 feet 5.
Billy is sore because his pint-size stature might have cost him a race in last Saturday's rain-soaked Penn Relays. Running before 24,252 spectators, Billy and John Carlos of New York's Pioneer Club appeared to hit the tape simultaneously. But Carlos brushed the tape with his chest and Billy hit it slightly below the neck. Billy tossed his hands over his head in the traditional winner's gesture, while Carlos stumbled and fell face-first in the mud. Officials credited each runner with a time of 9.7 but gave the victory to Carlos.
Billy has been doing a lot of thinking about the inch or two of distance he is giving up to taller rivals by hitting the tape at neck level rather than at his outthrust chest, and he doesn't know what to do about it. Unless he can persuade the officials to lower the tape a bit, he may just have to wait until he grows out of his predicament.
GLAD YOU ASKED
Everything was great with Alan Geerts of Elkhart, Ind. after he shot a hole in one at the Eberhart-Petro Golf Course in Mishawaka, Ind. Then somebody asked him his score for the round. It was 98-76—174 for the 18 holes. Not bad, Geerts thought, for his third round of golf, and the first time he had broken 200.
THE OTHER BILL BRADLEY
Keep an eye on Bill Bradley—not the former Princeton basketball All-America, but the University of Texas freshman quarterback who seems to do everything well. The boy who turned down a rich baseball bonus to play football under Coach Darrell Royal accompanied the Texas freshman track team to Houston for a quadrangular meet. He went along just for the bus ride but was a last-minute entry in the field events. What happened came as no surprise to Bradley's fans. He cleared 12 feet for second place in the pole vault, took second in the broad jump with a leap of 22 feet one inch and high-jumped 6 feet for fourth place in that event.
THE FAN DU JOUR
No matter that the Cincinnati Reds are not unanimous favorites to finish first in the National League. Let's hear it for Louis (Duke) Bodkin, a candidate for dogged fan of the season.
Duke was so carried away when the Reds won the pennant back in 1961 that he dropped the price of bean soup from 20¢ to a nickel a bowl at his Rock Bar Cafe in Ludlow, Ky. He would keep the price at a nickel, vowed Duke, until the Reds won another flag.
Duke and Cincinnati are still waiting. This may be the year, though. As an added offering to the gods of baseball, Bodkin promises to slash the price to 3¢ a bowl if the 1966 pennant flies in Cincy. He is clinging to at least one thin thread of business reality: the customers would have to bring their own crackers.
DASH FOR CASH
While it is true that mere money in vulgar quantities does not confer distinction upon a horse race, breed improvers will no doubt want to take note of the fact that Ruidoso Downs near Roswell, N. Mex. may offer a purse of half a million dollars for its All American Quarter Horse Futurity on Labor Day. The race is at 400 yards and lasts only about 20 seconds, which means that the run could be made at the rate of $1,250 a yard, $25,000 a second.
THE BEAUTY PART
Mrs. Lyndon Johnson and all other Americans concerned with scenic beauty will be glad to hear that New Mexico folks are with it.
An Albuquerque citizen recently stopped in an office in the state capitol in Santa Fe to ask for the location of the Governor's Committee to Keep New Mexico Beautiful. A very helpful receptionist searched the directory and gave him an address. It turned out to be the office of the State Cosmetology Board.
THEY SAID IT
•Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packer coach, on the possibility of package football contract negotiations √† la Koufax-Drysdale: "If they come in my office as a group they'll go out as a group, I guarantee you that."
•Dave Nelson, athletic director at the University of Delaware, asked if he would buy a season ticket now that he has retired as football coach: "I'm going to wait and see what kind of team they have."
•Arthur (Red) Patterson, vice-president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, after they had been shut out by identical scores of 2-0 by Chicago's Ferguson Jenkins and Ken Holtzman and St. Louis' Larry Jaster: "It's getting embarrassing. Jenkins, Holtzman and Jaster—that sounds like a law firm."