An extraordinary decision was made almost unnoticed last week. The leadership of the FIS, the international body that controls competitive skiing, approved a kind of open skiing. With the permission of their national federations, future Alpine and Nordic racers can make the most of their victories—they can accept money for advertising skis, helmets, gloves, poles, parkas and the other tools of their trade. They can be paid for press and TV exclusives. However, the racers are still forbidden to accept appearance money for participating in an event or to ski for cash prizes.
"Our decision is evolutionary, not revolutionary," FIS President Marc Hodler said. "We have accepted the fact that ski racers are now full-time sportsmen who simply have no time left over for earning extra money. They must be reimbursed for their loss of income."
As the FIS conceives it, there will be two types of competitors—one the "authorized pro," and the other the true amateur who accepts no money at all. The FIS council's decision, which must be approved by a vote of the organization's member nations, could have a distressing effect on the Winter Olympics by downgrading the quality of Olympic performances, for any skier who accepts the payments now okayed will not be eligible to compete in the Games. It superficially appears that most countries will find themselves with second-rate Olympic teams. However, it may turn out that the very best European skiers will forgo the relatively small payments they might receive as authorized pros on the chance that they could win an Olympic gold medal and parlay it into a financial bonanza.
July 7, 1968
EATING IT UP
When the Little League season began in northern Colorado a month ago Doug Leigh, a restaurant owner in Fort Collins, offered a free dinner—hamburger, Pepsi and French fries—to any boy in the 82-team league who hit a homer. Last season the teams averaged about 40 home runs for the season, which would have meant 3,280 free meals. But this year, savoring the taste of success, the Little Leaguers have gone on a home-run binge. One boy hit five in one game. And when the Wolves beat the Foxes 77-18 in a five-inning game in Fort Collins last week, 44 of the 96 hits were home runs.
Doug Leigh now has a big-league business. "When a boy comes to get his free dinner," Leigh explains, "he naturally brings his parents along, and they buy theirs."
POSTAGE STAMP OF APPROVAL
Later this month the 1968 All-America college golf team will be announced—selected, it will be said, by the nation's golf writers. Actually the team was picked two weeks ago by golf coaches representing the eight NCAA districts. The so-called All-America vote by the writers is a put-on.
The team the coaches picked is: Hal Underwood, Houston; Steve Melnyk, Florida; Ben Kern, New Mexico State; Grier Jones, Oklahoma State; Jack Lewis, Wake Forest; Allen Miller, Georgia: Mike Morley, Arizona State; and Kemp Richardson, USC.
The ballots to the golf writers are in the mail now. Wonder how they'll vote?
Because the world orangutan population is dwindling at an alarming rate, the government of Malaysia has set up a unique rehabilitation center to train domesticated orangs to return to forest life. The monkeys are taken to a camp in Sabah State, the diseases they have acquired from associating with humans (i.e., malaria, hookworm) are cured and they are encouraged to roam in a nearby 12,000-acre forest reserve. So far, the center has had eight orangs disappear permanently into the forest—which is the desired result—but a number of others still hang around the camp. They especially like bathing in a barrel, holding their noses while they dunk, and following the ranger and his staff, mimicking them. When the men cut wood a couple of orangs stand nearby, watch and then imitate the motions.
The ranger, of course, keeps hoping the rest of the monkeys will get lost. Every few weeks they are taken deep into the forest, given a day's supply of food and told to be good scouts and rough it. But most return after a week or so, and sooner if it starts to rain. Then the orangs run for their dry cages and curl up in sleeping sacks like campers.
One wonders who is making a monkey out of whom.
SETTING THE STYLE
Staying in trim at Mexico City shouldn't be a problem. The Chamber of Physical Beautification has been holding classes for barbers and hairdressers who will attend the athletes in the Olympic Village and dignitaries in an exclusive shop near Aztec Stadium. Two hundred "masculine esthetic stylists" will be available. A special Olympic style has been developed for both men and women. The men's is more or less routine—long in the back and a pompadour in the front. But the women's has a novel twist. It consists of five intertwined rings of hair—like the Olympic symbol—tied with ribbons of Olympic colors.
Some Texans with a computer and ample funds are out to break the hold of Italy's Blue Team on world-class bridge. Nine months ago Robert Wolff, a San Antonio lawyer, Jim Jacoby, son of bridge expert Oswald, and Ira Corn Jr., a financial consultant, decided to develop a young team by having them practice together 60 hours a week over a two-year period. "We determined that there would be a strong commercial advantage in acquiring status as the No. 1 bridge team in the world," Wolff explains. "Spectator bridge is a field which has really never been tapped before. The prize for international competition now is world acclaim. That's all."
So the group invited William Eisenberg, 30, Robert Goldman, 29, and Michael Lawrence, 28, all skilled if inexperienced players, to Dallas to live and learn. The team, which calls itself the U.S. Aces, is now using a computer to analyze hands and to develop a bidding system. By next February they hope to have achieved a "winning syndrome." Wolff says the Aces have already come up with some revolutionary theories thanks to the computer analysis. They have won two matches against all-star teams in the past six weeks and have won the Mexican championships.
Meanwhile the Italian Blue Team has taken its eighth straight world title. That better be a smart computer.
IN PEAK CONDITION
A speech professor at North Carolina State who admits to being between 65 and 75 years old climbed Pikes Peak for the 355th time last week. Edwin Paget made his first climb in 1919, and he hopes by his 50th anniversary next year to have scaled the 14,110-foot mountain 400 times. Once he climbed it four times in a single day and on numerous occasions he has climbed it twice in a day. "The older most men get, the less they do," Mr. Paget says. "This is wrong. They should exercise. I have made 210 of my climbs in the last eight years, and my time is now 15 or 20 minutes better than it was in 1919. I'm trying to advance the thesis that a man reaches his peak at 75."
Well, one peak or another.
Through the years a number of fine football teams have become bogged down on the University of Washington's muddy gridiron. Opponents have just had to grit their teeth and plow on. But now the Huskies are putting out a welcome mat—$300,000 worth of Astroturf. The field will be ready for the September 21 game with Rice. Washington, however, is not the only major college installing artificial grass in an outdoor stadium. Tennessee, which does not have the Huskies' mud-bowl problem, has announced it is laying a $200,000 Tartan Turf surface at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. The new field will be ready for Tennessee's opener against Georgia, a fact that does not much please Georgia Coach Vince Dooley. The artificial fields are said to offer two significant advantages, reduction of maintenance costs and of player injuries. One other advantage has been suggested: if the home team falls behind, it can always pull the rug from under the visitors' cleats.
THE NONBAN BAN
There was considerable motorized soul-searching in Indianapolis last week, a "momentous meeting," as the United States Auto Club put it. It was all of that. When the board adjourned USAC officers announced that they had not banned the turbine car from racing, as widely predicted. Then they went on to explain what they had done—which was, in effect, to ban the turbine from racing.
The result was puzzling and left America's foremost racing controversy still unsettled. By way of brief history: turbocars have appeared twice at the Indy 500, lost both times. After the 1967 race, turbine-engine size was reduced to bring it into competitive line with piston engines. Fine. In this year's race three new four-wheel-drive turbines started; one crashed and two failed. But it was a wild, evenly matched run while it lasted; 250,000 spectators loved it.
Shortly after the race USAC's rules committee recommended banning all turbines. But the board last week rejected that, 13-5, and instead formed another committee to study engine equivalency, "hopeful that another reduction can be recommended." Further, USAC resolved that, in 1970, no more four-wheel-drive cars will be allowed—thus striking down one of the most imaginative racing advancements in years. It added the stipulation that 1970 turbines, if any still survive this siege, must be automotive types, not industrial as this year's engines were.
USAC insisted, wondrously, that four-wheel drive is "extremely expensive and presently is not being used in passenger cars and has little chance of being used in the near future," which ought to shock millions, particularly those many Americans already driving at least four models of four-wheel-drive cars and Europeans, who find the principle both safe and sophisticated.
First impressions that turbocars could still race one more year under the present rules also are misleading. USAC's new committee has until July, then September, to set new equivalency rules; if it calls for further turbine reduction—as the board suggests—there will not be much time left for new engine development before next May 30.
"The question was one of...whether we wish to continue to welcome innovation," said USAC President Tom Binford. Considering the racing potential of turbines, the obvious advantages of four-wheel drive and the exciting benefits of both to racing. USAC's latest action certainly answers his question.
The Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL have lined up a superstar, Pete Spheniscidae, for next season. Club President Jack McGregor believes coming to terms won't be a problem. Pete is a penguin whose job will be skating before games. "We're keeping him on ice at the zoo until the opener," McGregor says.
THEY SAID IT
•Woody Hayes, Ohio State football coach, on his third visit to Vietnam to entertain the troops: "I came out here for one reason. I like to meet you better than some of the people back on the Ohio State campus."
•Mayo Smith, Tiger manager, on the effect of the nine-month Detroit newspaper strike on his ball club: "When we have player meetings now we sit around and interview one another, so when the writers come back we won't be out of practice."
•Joe Kuharich, Philadelphia Eagle coach, on his son signing with the Minnesota Vikings: "I wanted him to go where he'd get better coaching."
•Willy Miranda, third baseman for the White Sox in the 1950s and a fine example of the good-field, no-hit player, on today's batting averages: "There are a lot of Mirandas playing every day now—hitting .170 to .180. And they've got guts enough to put on golf gloves when they go to bat. How's a guy gonna get blisters hitting .180?"