LIGHT AND SHADOW FOR SOCCER
The attempt to merge the National Professional Soccer League and the United Soccer Association has failed, and something less than a feeling of friendly rivalry prevails. The NPSL is suing the USA and FIFA (International Federation of Football Associations), soccer's international governing body, for $18 million. FIFA recognizes the USA, and does not recognize the NPSL, which feels slighted.
On the other hand there is, here and there, a bright spot. The Atlanta Chiefs of the NPSL, for instance, were considered least likely to succeed since Atlanta's population is without ethnic interest in the game. But the Chiefs, in this first season of professional soccer, in a city with no substantial background in the sport, attracted an average attendance of 7,000 to their 15 home games for a total draw of 107,000.
Operators of the Las Vegas gambling parlors are shaking like a crapshooter's fist as the American League pennant race draws to a close. Sammy Cohen, who operates the Santa Anita Race Book there, says, "If them Boston Red Sox win that flag we get hurt real bad.
"We were offering Boston, along with Washington and Kansas City, for 100 to 1 at the start of the season," he explains, "and there were quite a few guys who took some action on that one."
A Boston victory, he said, would mean an outlay of $30,000 to $35,000 for the book and his net loss would be between $15,000 and $20,000.
College football's new punt-return rule, which restricts the number of players who can go downfield once the ball is snapped, will cause some innovations this year, especially in the Southwest Conference.
Texas Tech, for instance, has two of the country's finest place-kickers in sophomore Jerry Don Sanders, who has kicked a field goal from as far out as 59 yards, and Ken Vinyard, with a 55-yard record to his credit. Now Coach J. T. King has been experimenting with the idea of having them place-kick out of bounds in punting situations. Six out of seven of their kicks went out of bounds in one session, and the other traveled 59 yards.
Rice's Bo Hagan also has his place-kicker, Wayne Kennedy, booting the ball toward the sidelines.
"I just didn't have enough nerve to ask our punters to kick out of bounds," Hagan explained. "They have enough trouble kicking straight."
Texas Coach Darrell Royal is a dissenter in the movement. According to him, punts or place kicks out of bounds average about eight yards less than those that stay in bounds.
"What's more discouraging," asked Hagan, "losing eight yards or having somebody run it back 60?"
The rule had a real test on Saturday in the Villanova-West Virginia game. On three quick kicks of 34, 56 and 45 yards West Virginia's return ace, John Mallory, gained a total of only 32 yards, an average of just under 11. But on three regular punt returns Mallory gained 64 yards, averaging 21. Kicking of a different sort helped West Virginia win, 40-0. Its soccer-style kicker, Ken Juskowich, performed perfectly. He set his college's record of four field goals—41, 37, 36 and 23 yards—and four points after touchdown.
BIRD WATCHERS' ALERT
Here and there are little societies that believe quite firmly in the existence of the Loch Ness monster and flying saucers. Now we have SOPHIE.
SOPHIE members believe that the pterodactyl, generally thought to have been extinct for 170 million years—a good long time on any calendar—has survived and is flitting about England and, perhaps, other places. SOPHIE stands for Save Our Pterodactyls and Help Ignorant Eagles. Its president, Brian Luckins of Reading, England, who is 25 years old, claims to have seen a pterodactyl and will not say precisely where. All he will reveal is that it was flying south at an altitude of 500 feet over the Chilterns. Naturally, he does not want the curious ignorant among us scaring it away.
"I am sure there are quite a few flying around England all the time," Luckins says. "The trouble is educating people to know a pterodactyl when they see one." That is the trouble with eagles, too, he explains. Eagles think they are pterodactyls.
Assisting Luckins in his research is Christine Jennings-Poole, a young geologist, who speculates that pterodactyls breed in the crevices of rocks or holes in the ground. This is confirmed, to an extent, by the fact that in 1840 two French miners, digging in a cave, disturbed one of the birdlike reptiles, which flew away and has not been seen since by any sober person.
OP, POP AND NOW PLOP
Many of today's artists seem to be going Mod or Mad, but there is a sculptor in Albuquerque who favors Mud. Julie Graham has a whole neighborhood building a two-story, playground structure made mainly of adobe bricks.
With the help of a score of adults who live near the playground and a team of willing-to-work teen-agers, the bricks were formed and baked in the sun. Then Mrs. Graham and the boys built a play tower that has a cave, some windows to climb through, a series of flagstone steps up to twin towers, a slide and a rope for swinging or climbing. A horde of preschool Tarzans, mountain climbers, spelunkers and Geronimos are anxious to try it, and a final coat of cement stucco over the mud bricks should be finished this month.
Mrs. Graham, wife of an architect, already has several more mud-tower commissions for other playgrounds. They're fun to build and dirt cheap.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
Among the largest catfish taken in the history of Anglers Little Lake in Hemet, Calif. were two caught recently by Mrs. Barbara Walling of Anaheim. She caught both fish on the same night, one weighing 18 pounds and the other 14.
Her bait: Wheaties soaked in strawberry soda.
LAMBORGHINI IN YOUR FUTURE?
Too big for a window display at Tiffany's, the Auto Expo International at the Los Angeles Sports Arena had other resemblances to an exhibition of fine jewels. It was a showing of expensive foreign sports cars, garnished with antique beauties and highlighted by a few new sports-car types that never had been shown in the U.S. before.
Among them: the Lamborghini Marzal, with a 175 hp engine in its slick body, able to move at 130 miles an hour. It has gull-wing doors, quite like those introduced by Mercedes in 1955, but the Lamborghini doors are made of glass. The cost of the windshield, a perfect, distortion-free mold, was estimated at $1,000. The body, designed by Bertone, includes rubber bumpers and black louvers over the rear engine. One of a kind, the Lamborghini was used as a pace car for Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the Monaco Grand Prix. It can be had for about $75,000.
Then there was the Alfa Romeo Scarabeo—a steel-gray rocket on four wheels. Equipped with 174 hp, it can do 150 mph, has a liftable glass top for an entrance and looks as if it had been chopped off by a guillotine behind the seats. In production, its price would exceed $20,000. A faster car, the Maserati Ghibli, has a top speed of 180 mph and has gone into production. It will be available at $17,500.
In the search for new ideas, Ferrari so far has come up with the most practical: in its three-seater, the driver's seat is in the middle. The model, called 365-P, is basically a 275LM racing car with 440 hp and can reach 175 mph. Ferrari Salesman Dave Lewis sold that one for $60,000 to a New York businessman who got his bid in just in time to shut out the Shah of Iran.
Playing a round at Stillwater (Okla.) Country Club, Myron Roderick, Oklahoma State wrestling coach, shot a hole in one but got credit only for a par 3.
On the 152-yard third hole, Roderick dropped his tee shot into the pond in front of the green. So he took the two-shot penalty, returned to the tee and lifted a five-iron shot into the cup.
Something like 25,000 sandhill cranes and an equal number of ducks settled down on the Canadian prairie near Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan and not one of several hundred hunters dared raise a gun against them.
The cranes and the ducks had a guest, a whooping crane, one of about 50 left in the world, and when he was spotted the region was closed to hunters.
There are no official statistics to back up his claim, but it does seem that Alan Jenkins, an English 17-year-old, has set a record. He took a few days off from school and covered 270 stations on the Paris Metro in 11 hours, 13 minutes. Train guards signed forms to give proof of his journey and times. Jenkins was holder of the London Underground record, too, but lost it two years ago.
The significance of what happened to British track athletes in Nairobi and Font-Romeu in the French Pyrenees on recent days will not be lost on coaches training their charges for the Mexico City Olympics. Both Nairobi and Font-Romeu are at altitudes of about 6,000 feet. Mexico City is some 7,800 feet high.
At Nairobi Alan Simpson, who has broken the four-minute mile barrier, finished ninth among the 18 starters and had to be revived with oxygen. The winner was Kipchoge Keino of Kenya, who trains at that altitude and finished in 3 minutes 59.6 seconds.
On the same day in Font-Romeu, Walter Wilkinson, another British miler who has also run the race in under four minutes, collapsed on the track.
Not long ago Konstantin A. Andrianov, president of the U.S.S.R.'s Olympic committee, saw fit to deny flatly that Russian athletes were undergoing high-altitude training on the ground that it was not needed. Now comes Felix Talyshev, secretary of the Central Institute for Physical Culture in Leningrad, with the news that Russians do indeed have a high-altitude training camp—at Alma-Ata in the Tien Shan mountains. Alma-Ata is 11,480 feet above sea level.
In order to prepare for 1968, Lamar Hunt's Dallas Tornado team (United Soccer Association) is training in Seville, Spain and is about to take off next month on a 25,000-mile tour eastward through such soccer centers as Ceylon, Singapore, Burma, Pakistan and maybe Pagopago. The team will play about 45 games coming the long way home and wind up with a brief swing through South America and Mexico. Estimated cost: $50,000 in airplane tickets alone.
Paul Waters, Hunt's executive assistant, is preceding the team and already has confirmed 23 dates, beginning October 11 in Istanbul. Then it's on to Tehran, Ahwaz, Lahore, Chittagong, Rangoon and the old Moulmein pagoda. Reading the itinerary is almost enough to give one tourist-tummy.
ACTION IN VEGAS
The talk about a Nevada fight between Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell appears now to be nothing but talk. More substantial is word that Liston may meet Buster Mathis, the ultraheavyweight who has won all his 16 professional fights, 10 of them by knockouts. If arrangements now under discussion are completed, it would be staged in Las Vegas next month.
THEY SAID IT
•John Bridges, football coach at Baylor, which is Baptist, on Tommy Reaux, who is a potential guard: "I think when a Negro Catholic boy pays his own way to go to Baylor, he ought to get a chance to play."
•Ray Nagel, Iowa football coach, wryly explaining the major leagues' hands-off rule on college undergraduates after Ray Larsen, sophomore prospect, quit for pro baseball: "The major leagues are fine people and now have a special rule that says they won't touch college players—unless they're good."