For the past 33 years the McKenzie River White Water Parade (SI, March 24, 1969) has been Oregon's traditional greeting to spring, a time to get in a bit of fun before the opening of the trout season, after which the river guides, who originated the event, would be too busy. Twenty or so of them would station their wives and children in their river boats and shoot the white-water rapids of the McKenzie. They knew how to handle the boats and they stayed sober.
Then, more and more each year, came the rowdies—types who make trouble their recipe for fun. They brought booze but no skill, rafts but no oars, recklessness but no life jackets. They crowded the course and littered the banks. This year two of them drowned. Others were rescued by disgusted, saddened guides. The fun was gone.
All during the past decade, as they watched inexperienced and irresponsible outsiders take over their event, members of the McKenzie River Guides' Association have predicted drownings and the end of the spring celebration. This year it came to pass.
"I'm embarrassed by things that go on in this parade now," said Keith Steele, a veteran of the river. "I'll be damned if I'll ever have anything to do with another one."
UMPS STRIKE OUT
For the 100 years or so that baseball has been around, players and fans have been convinced on occasion that umpires are as blind as baseball bats.
Well, some of them come close. A Seattle optometrist, Dr. Wayne Martin, who has been testing athletes' eyes for 20 years, now has made a survey of officials operating in the Puget Sound area. Out of 13 tested, four had from 6 to 81% loss of clear vision that had not been corrected. That is almost 33% with sight difficulties.
On the other hand, athletes do not get an entirely clean bill of visual health. At the University of Washington and Seattle University 23% of 809 athletes flunked their sight tests. Of 135 Boston Red Sox farm-system players he tested in 1964, about 21% could not see properly.
"Many coaches and trainers unknowingly have top athletes sitting on the sideline because of poor vision," Dr. Martin said. This is a double loss, for many athletes have gone on to win honors after their vision was corrected. There is the case of Eddie Miles, who had trouble reading the clock while playing basketball for Seattle U. Fitted with contact lenses, Miles went on to professional play with the NBA.
WATTS NEW IN SWIMMING?
It has been calculated that the use of a starting gun for swimming meets costs the swimmer farthest from the gun a matter of 4½ inches per standard pool length over his opponent nearest the gun. It's because the speed of sound is not all that fast.
But in the Britain-Russia meet last week, and in the subsequent Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, a new system seems to be aborning. The starter presses a button, whereupon each of the competitors is stimulated by an electrical vibration transmitted through his feet. Simultaneously, in case he is insensitive to a few volts, the swimmer hears a loud beep.
Herewith a few cheery words for those who would like wild turkey on their Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. The big bird has come back from scarcity to plenty—and keeps coming.
The wild turkey census in 1952 counted 97,000 of the species. In 1968 it was 531,000. This spring may see a figure of 1,250,000 posted. Illinois is holding its first turkey season in some 70 years. A total of 35 states will offer spring and fall hunting this year, and the day will come, some turkey experts say, when there will be wild gobblers in all of the lower 48 states.
Hunted incessantly since the Pilgrims sat down to their first Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey has become the wariest of game birds. In Wisconsin two seasons ago, a total of 1,100 hunters killed only 18 birds. Fewer than 10% of the hunters used calls but those who did killed 85% of the turkeys taken.
Daniel P. Bartoli, a 52-year-old Chicagoan, did a little spring cleaning the other day and threw several hundred pieces of paper out of the window of his North Side apartment. Trouble was, the papers were horse-racing betting slips and police arrested him—for taking bets and for polluting the city's air.
THE LANGUAGE BARRIER
Fencing is a sport at more than a few urban universities, especially in the East, but the word has quite a different meaning at some of the cow colleges of the West.
An Eastern athletics official recently asked New Mexico State University for its fencing schedule. The Aggies—who have made a sport out of almost every other form of ranch drudgery—decided to dream one up in this category. Student Dave Lopez is working on it, a series of meets to culminate in something called the "Northern Corral Festival." If the Aggies had a fencing coach, Dave thinks, he would be nicknamed "Old Splice" and a promising sophomore would be known as "Chickenwire." Key plays would include the "Overhand Double Stitch" and the "Sidewinder Half-Knot."
It is conceivable that fencing contests could become part of the collegiate rodeo program as a kind of student string-along. If so, we'll keep you posted.
The all too prevalent notion that boxing is a brutalizing sport is now being countered by psychiatric studies and treatment under way at the University of Michigan Medical Center. A 50-minute film, Boxing in the Treatment Program of Emotionally Disturbed Adolescent Boys, shows quite clearly that boxing has been unusually effective in the treatment of boys with problems of aggression—either those who had been brought up to be too unaggressive or those who had difficulty controlling fits of temper.
The Adolescent Service of the university provides, among other activities, a 10- to 12-week boxing program of four 90-minute sessions a week. In charge of the boxing is Recreational Therapist Arden G. Kersey, who regards it as "an exercise in learning to express and control aggressive impulses."
"Any expression of anger or 'fighting' is seen as evidence that one or more boys has failed in his task of disciplining himself," a summary of the study reports, "and the incident is accordingly dealt with immediately." Which is what every professional fighter of competence knows—that he must never lose his temper in the ring, just as he must not accept punishment passively.
As for practical results of the boxing program, the film reports "marked improvement" in three boys—one of them an uncoordinated, passive schizophrenic, and two others who had been unable to control explosive impulses.
SHOE ON ANOTHER FOOT
Under a ruling by the IAAF, track and field athletes were to have been required to wear all-white shoes starting May 1. Now the effective date has been set back to October 1, pending a review of the situation at the IAAF conference to be held in Stockholm late this summer.
The white-shoe rule was, of course, intended to reduce the commercializing (and professionalizing) effects of the sales war among such shoe manufacturers as Adidas, Puma and others who have been manufacturing their products with distinctive, instantly recognizable colored stripes. Top athletes have been persuaded, one way or another, to accept gifts of such shoes and perhaps lots of cash, too (SI, March 10, 1969).
Reason for the postponement to October is that the shoe people have cried hardship in that they have vast quantities of striped shoes in their stockpiles and need time to get rid of them.
But, whatever happens in October, Adidas and Puma are on top of the situation. They have come up with a formula that could make even the all-white shoe almost as distinctive a brand indicator as the striped variety. The idea is to produce shoes with strips of white suede over the smooth white leather. The suede would collect dust and stand out quite as nicely as the colored stripes.
A score or more years ago newspapers seldom bothered to list baseball attendance figures in the box scores. Now it is common practice. San Francisco newspapers even run daily comparisons, this year versus last year.
It has been a National League embarrassment that the American League has calculated its attendance figures rather more loosely than the National. For one thing, American teams count tickets sold even though they are not used (SI, Sept. 8, 1969). Obviously, many season-ticket holders do not attend every game. The National practice has been to count only those tickets actually turned in at the park, which is a truer indicator of interest in a particular game. In the San Francisco area it was particularly annoying (to the Giants, that is) when the Oakland Athletics announced their season attendance as a few hundred more than the Giants'. According to the Giants, actual attendance, in terms of tickets sold and used, was 100,000 in their favor. Indeed, some of them contend, Oakland Owner Charles O. Finley gave out 40,000 tickets free to local unions in 1968, then slyly included them in his attendance figures. In almost any National League park, Ladies' Days and service admissions could add 100,000 to a season's attendance.
Which is background to why the National League this season has made an unpublicized switch in its method of counting ticket buyers. Under the plan, anyone who enters for 50¢—on Senior Citizens' or Ladies' Days, for instance—will be counted. In the past, a fan had to pay at least 51¢ to become an official statistic in the attendance.
THE EYES OF BOSTON ARE ON UHF
Ultra High Frequency television stations, which got into the game late, have had bumpy sledding against their Very High Frequency rivals, most of which were well established when the UHF stations came into being. And most of the VHF channels have network connections.
But Boston's WSBK-TV, Channel 38, has built a better mousetrap. It is riding a numbers-game crest by telecasting both home and away playoff games of the Boston Bruins. For instance, for the second playoff game with the Black Hawks, played in Chicago, Channel 38 got a 32 ARB rating, considered whopping, and 56% of the total Boston area audience. Station Manager Bill Flynn estimated that the station "reached 700,000 TV sets and more than 1,250,000 viewers."
Let's see an old movie or a rerun match that.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
It happened in a Southwest Conference baseball game. The names of the players have been changed to protect one from further embarrassment.
In a game against Texas Christian, Texas Tech Coach Kal Segrist sent in an overeager youngster to pinch-hit.
"Jones bunting for Smith," the batter reported to the plate umpire.
THEY SAID IT
•Harry Sinden, Boston Bruins coach, asked what would happen if the Ring-ling Bros. circus took over Boston Garden May 12, possible final date of the Stanley Cup playoffs: "I guess I'd dress one of the gorillas."
•Bob Rosburg, pro golfer, discussing the Hazeltine National Golf Club course at Chaska, Minn. with its 10 dogleg holes: "Robert Trent Jones must have laid out the course in a kennel."
•Mrs. Clarence Howard, delegate from Missouri to 79th annual DAR convention, on Earth Day: "This environment movement is one of the subversive element's last steps. They've gone after the military and the police and now they're going after our parks and playgrounds."