The ever-smoldering feud between the AAU and the NCAA is sending up ugly puffs of smoke once again, and as usual the signals spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E—at least for the innocent bystander, who, in this case, happens to be the athletes involved. The U.S. Track and Field Federation, an affiliate of the NCAA, is sponsoring a meet in Madison Square Garden on Feb. 9, and since a few non-college runners are on the entry list, the AAU insists that the meet must have its sanction. The AAU would give the sanction if asked, but the NCAA won't ask. So the AAU has warned that all athletes who take part in the meet will be barred from future international competition, including the Olympic Games. Jim Ryun, favored to become the first American in 60 years to win the Olympics' prize plum, the 1,500 meters, is scheduled to run in the Garden.
It is inconceivable that Ryun could thus be barred from the Olympics. But innocents have been trampled before in a bureaucratic tug-of-war, so perhaps it is not all that inconceivable that the best young runner in the world may never get to Mexico City. If this happens, the AAU, regardless of the merits or demerits of its stand, is going to look downright paranoid. So is the NCAA. So, for that matter, is Uncle Sam.
A number of major leaguers—among them John Roseboro of the Minnesota Twins and Lou Johnson of the Chicago Cubs—are endorsing and expect to use a new bat called the Watts Walloper, which is being produced by the Green Power Foundation in the Watts area of Los Angeles. The foundation, which started the project to provide jobs for unemployed Negroes, set up a workshop last month in an abandoned telephone-company building. It began with one wood-turning lathe and eight employees, but by May the company is expected to be employing 350 men and manufacturing 1,000 Wallopers a day.
Since existing bat manufacturers have a corner on the white-ash farms in the Appalachians, the foundation is using tan oak from northern California for its new product. The wood is hardened by chemicals, and the bats are finished in an aerospace material that makes them difficult to break.
Dallas Cowboy fans are not ready to relinquish the National Football League title, supposedly decided in Green Bay on December 31 at a temperature of 13° below zero. One group of Cowboy followers claims to have obtained the official NFL watch used in the game and subjected it to the temperatures prevailing in Green Bay. Their conclusion: the game should have ended 123 seconds earlier because the prevailing frigid conditions slowed down the mechanism. Ergo, Dallas won, 17-14.
It may now be said that the Turn-on, Tune-in and Drop-out Movement has reached frightening proportions. Students at Duquesne University—a segment of them, at any rate—have dropped out of the Pepsi Generation.
Pepsi-Cola sponsored Duquesne basketball broadcasts over Pittsburgh's KDKA-Radio the past four seasons, but then decided to spend its advertising dollars elsewhere. For one thing, the Dukes won only seven of their 15 games last season; for another, the university wanted to increase the price of broadcast rights. No sponsor moved into the breach left by Pepsi.
Indignantly, and in all seriousness, Duquesne's Student Congress urged the student body to boycott Pepsi and demanded the soft drink be removed from the cafeteria and from campus vending machines, DRINK MILK, commanded a sign on the Student Congress office window. "Students UNITE and drink coffee, tea or milk until the Pepsi company gets the message," cried a letter to the editor of the school newspaper.
Happily the Dukes have become a winning team (their record so far this season is 11-2) and—who knows?—may again attract a sponsor. In the meantime Pepsi is wincing, and things go better with....
A bull elk in Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon recently found his escape route blocked by a Volkswagen. Annoyed, he butted the car, ripped through a door and window and gored the driver in the chest, breaking two ribs and puncturing his lung. The elk, having conquered the obstacle, went his way. What the canyon needs is a sign: BEWARE, CROSS ELK CROSSING.
If Neiman-Marcus could sell his and her camels at Christmas, surely there is a market somewhere for a 15', six-ton statue of Y.A. Tittle. However, Don Seiler of Miami hasn't found it yet.
Seiler is a sculptor who has spent the last 16 months constructing the monstrous statue (below) in his backyard. "I thought the heroism of Tittle would live forever," he says. He has written to Tittle, the Orange Bowl committee, the Miami Dolphins and Tittle's old team, the N.Y. Giants, but has had no success passing off his work. The Dolphins showed interest until they learned that the bill for transportation to their downtown office would be $1,500. When weeds began to sprout around Y.A.'s feet, Seiler called in a wrecker. He was told it would cost $350 to destroy the statue, so Seiler scrapped that idea. But he has something else in mind—a new work depicting the Dallas or Green Bay players shivering in the sub-zero weather at the NFL championship game. It seems likely that Miami will soon have a National Backyard Football Museum.
NOT FOR THE MASSES
Since the 1920s, when the Nizam of Hyderabad would arrive for his winter vacations with 500 trunks and a personal cook who would sprinkle gold dust on the rice before serving his master's curry, St. Moritz has been the winter place of the rich and titled. Onassis, Niarchos, the Fords, the Rothschilds and the Thyssens have been sporting there recently, but this season the rarefied atmosphere was clouded. Two of the resort's four luxury hotels—the Kulm and the Carlton—were up for sale, and rumor had it that France's Club Méditerranée, which deals in mass tourism, was negotiating to buy them for something like $5 million. The elite, and the dressmakers and jewelers who supply their trifles, talked of moving elsewhere, and all was glum on the mountain of gold. But last week a Zurich entrepreneur, Karl Steiner, and several esteemed Swiss banks purchased the hotels and announced they would maintain the exclusive character of the resort. The dressmakers andjewelers relaxed.
Two weeks ago Johnny Callison, the Phillie outfielder, arrived in Wakefield, Mass. for some special training with Gene Berde, the 63-year-old Hungarian conditioning expert who primed Carl Yastrzemski for last season. When Callison showed up in the local gym the first morning he found Berde scaling a 20-foot rope and touching the ceiling with his toes. A TV cameraman was recording the feat, and newspaper reporters were taking note of it. "Now you do it," Berde ordered Callison.
"You'll never know how self-conscious I was," the outfielder said later. "I'd never climbed a rope before in my life. But I certainly didn't want to embarrass myself in front of all those people." He made it to the ceiling.
After a week of similar exercises, Callison was saying, "I feel so good it's hard to explain. They tell me Yaz felt the same way."
Callison hit .261 with 14 home runs last year. Now if he can only bat .326, hit 44 homers and....
In an election at the University of California students voted Jeff Sokal head yell leader. Sokal ran on a "peace" ticket, and his campaign literature showed him in front of antiwar half-time card stunts.
The Lake George (N.Y.) Chamber of Commerce has announced that it is holding the First Annual Polar Icecap Open Golf Tournament at, or rather on, Lake George, February 3 and 4. Since the ice on the lake is blue-white, a vegetable dye will be used for greens. Golf balls will be painted iridescent orange for visibility and will be warmed to make sure they will not break into bits when hit. Heated clubs, however, are forbidden. Snowshoes are permitted as well as skis and skates. Huskies have been suggested as caddies; golfers may also use polar bears, if they are muzzled. A birdie will be considered a penguin and an eagle a snow goose. Cups are to be bored several inches deep into the ice. The only thing the Lake George course seems to lack is any kind of water hazard.
The death of hockey's Bill Masterton in a game last week again focuses attention on one of the most delicate and troubling of sports questions: how safe is safe enough? The immediate result has been a debate about whether pro hockey players should wear helmets. Masterton, 29, a center for the Minnesota North Stars, fell backward on the ice and suffered a skull fracture.
He had been shaken up in a game two weeks before, had complained of headaches (to teammates but not to a physician or his coach) and may well have blacked out in the fatal game, falling in an unusual way for no apparent reason. Had he worn a helmet, as players often do after concussions, he would have been protected.
Shocked by Masterton's death, the first fatality in the NHL's 51 years, several players are talking of wearing helmets voluntarily. "We should all be wearing them," says Chicago's Bobby Hull, "but we're just too damn vain." His teammate Stan Mikita says he will begin wearing one as soon as he can design a helmet that will not interfere with his play. The ones now available are uncomfortable and hot.
Some players, however, will not wear them unless forced to. Pittsburgh's Ken Schinkel explains, "The player who wears one has always been looked on as a kind of outsider."
Bobby Rousseau of Montreal, who used a helmet last season, discarded it this year and attained greater scoring proficiency, says paradoxically, "I don't think I'd wear a helmet again, if the decision were left to me. With one on, you sometimes are unable to sense things behind you. But it should be a rule."
Another argument used against mandatory helmets is that they would take away the "personality" of individual players, though this has not proved to be the case in football or in baseball, a sport that took 50 years to make the batting helmet standard equipment. Their use would, however, radically alter the look of the game.
Statistics indicate that only a small percentage of pro hockey players receive permanently disabling injuries—in an exceedingly rough game. Perhaps mandatory helmets are not necessary, but it would be wise for the NHL to sponsor an intensive research program to develop an ideal lightweight helmet that players can use if they choose.
THEY SAID IT
•Don Chaney, Houston Cougar forward, recalling the days when he used to wear out the grass in his backyard practicing basketball: "If my mother had things for me to do, she'd just water down the yard while I was in school."
•Roone Arledge, executive producer of ABC sports, on a game last season when the Giants' Willie McCovey stole a base: "I was thinking of a slow motion replay. On second thought, I decided it would be redundant."
•Johnny Kerr, former 6'9" pivotman and now the coach of the Chicago Bulls, when asked by a woman if he was a basketball player: "No, ma'am, I'm a jockey for a dinosaur."
•Parnelli Jones on the design of his racing cars: "I always seem to end up driving ones that look like their owners. I used to drive for J.C. Agajanian. His cars always had a long, shiny nose. Now that I'm driving for Andy Granatelli, my car has a big, fat belly."