THE GOOSE THAT KILLS
Off-Track Betting has created an ever-increasing source of revenue for New York City since it arrived last April 8 like a golden egg. The operation will no doubt be emulated around the country. But OTB has also helped cause a notable decline in on-track attendance and handle. The State of New York, which takes the largest bite out of the track bettor's dollar, 10%, has responded with a bid to take over OTB. Let the city and state fight it out as they will—as long as everyone keeps sight of just which goose is laying which kind of egg. The real question is how much OTB money will go to the tracks.
In France the tracks get 10.45% of off-track money, and racing is prospering. In Britain the tracks get only .5% from the bookmakers, and some tracks have suffered severe reverses. In New York the tracks get 1% of OTB revenue, which is not enough to offset what OTB takes away. The tracks' losses are being passed on to horsemen in the form of diminishing purses. The horsemen will go where they can get more money. Unless the New York tracks get a substantially larger cut from OTB, there will eventually be no action, much less golden eggs, either off-track or on.
"Wilderness rationing," says a spokesman for the California Forest Service, "is a last-ditch management stance." It will be two or three years, the spokesman said, before the wilds of California have to be meted out to consumers as gasoline and butter were during World War II.
But the Federal Government has just announced, for the first time in the nation's history, camping restrictions which come close to rationing. Kings Canyon National Park in the Rae Lakes area along California's John Muir Trail will be limited to 15,000 visitors (a visitor being defined as one person staying for 12 hours) for the season. Once the maximum allowable visitor total is reached, "park rangers will encourage people to plan their trips so that they pass through the area rather than stay overnight," says the Department of the Interior.
Similar regulations will be imposed in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park and other wilderness areas that begin to show "clear evidence of biological or physical damage" as the summer progresses.
Who would have thought 200 years ago, while contemplating the American wilderness, that tourists could ever wear it out?
There is a new '50s, shooby-doo-style record out, by a group known as Ronnie and the Daytonas, about a youth who gets in trouble raising money to take his girl to the senior prom. The girl's lament ends as follows:
And I'll always send you mail,
While you're serving time in jail
For throwing the high school basketball game.
SHE'S NOT THE SAME ELEPHANT
Ted DeWayne, owner of a 6,500-pound performing elephant named Bimbo Jr., has collected $6,800 damages in a Los Angeles court from the driver of an automobile that hit Bimbo's trailer in 1969, apparently leaving the elephant with a whiplash injury. It is impossible to be sure of the whiplash, DeWayne conceded, because it is so hard to X-ray an elephant. But DeWayne did establish that the accident caused Bimbo to lose interest in water skiing and dancing.
BUT DON'T BRING BEER CANS
Won't you let me take you on a containerized cruise? The Holland-America Line's most recently launched cruise ship has a capacity of only 300 to 400 passengers—the same as a jumbo jet's. Such a jet will leave New York on a Friday and arrive in Singapore Saturday night. The passengers will be transferred directly to one of the new ships and deposited Sunday night on the beaches of Bali.
"The new tourist operator's dream," explains a Holland-America spokesman, "is to load the tourists in a luxury container, strap them to their chairs and unpack them on board of the same-sized cruise ship." All this should be a reality by July 1973. And the container won't even be left behind on the beaches of Bali, the way those things are on the moon.
Never interfere with your wife's attempts to deprive your son of his soccer ball if you are standing in the kitchen. You wouldn't believe what can happen.
Barry Leger of Armley, England weighs 154 pounds. His wife Barbara weighs 98. Their son John is four years old. Mrs. Leger took John's soccer ball away from him the other day because he broke a window with it. Mr. Leger describes what happened next:
"Barbara took the ball and locked it in the cellar. As a joke I grabbed her so John could get the ball back. But she just grabbed me round the neck, took me in a fireman's lift over the shoulder and plonked me in the sink, bottom first."
And there Mr. Leger remained, wedged between the faucets. Neither Mrs. Leger nor the neighbors she summoned could get him out. The fire department had to be called on for help.
The effect of all this on young John's soccer game remains to be seen.
GIMMIE AN EYE! EYE!
During the first round of the Indiana state high school basketball tournament at Anderson, Ind., Don Paddock of Frankton High lost a contact lens. The age-old problem. Everyone got down on hands and knees and searched. The floor was swept with towels, and the sweepings sifted. Nothing. So Kay Alexander came down out of Frankton's cheering section, removed one of her own lenses and passed it to Paddock. He popped it in and played the remaining 3½ quarters with it, leading his team in scoring with 19 points, 9 for 22 from the field.
WORK WITH ME, WILLIE
The most exciting races of the Champions track and field meet March 4 in Los Angeles got under way as the crowd was filing from the Coliseum—and a horde of youngsters from the neighborhood swooped down on the field and made off with a bundle of shoes, sweat clothes, prizes and a $500 camera.
Decathloner Russ Hodge, half-miler Juris Luzins and Mike Larrabee, a former world-class quarter-miler now representing the Adidas shoe company, gave chase. Between the three of them they came up with the camera and Willie Shellmire, 17, who said he just ran because everybody else did. Deciding that Willie was perhaps blameless, Hodge let him off with a lecture. "These athletes work years for what they get," Hodge said. "What right has anybody to steal their stuff? If you want something then go out and work for it."
A few minutes later, as Hodge was leaving the stadium, Willie came rushing up. "Hey," he said. "You said I should work for what I want. Is that right?"
"Right," said Hodge.
"Well, good," said Willie. "That man down there said if I beat you in a 100-yard dash he'd give me a pair of shoes." He pointed to the grinning Larrabee.
"Damn it," Hodge cried. "O.K. O.K., we'll race. But if I pull a muscle I'll kill that Larrabee."
Barefoot and stripped down to a pair of slacks, Hodge lined up and discovered the field had grown to 14. Larrabee had tempted the mob by telling them Hodge did the 100 in 11 seconds.
The race began, and most of the challengers got a three-yard jump as Hodge, fearing injury, started slowly. But then he came on and 10 yards from the tape he had overhauled all but Willie. Hodge narrowed the margin even more: two steps, one, a half. As they hit the tape, Hodge leaned as 15 years of experience taught. And so did Willie.
"Willie by a lash," said a friend of Hodge's.
Willie told Larrabee he wore size 11s. "Only got a 10," said Larrabee, "but you can trade them in for an 11 at any sporting-goods store."
"That's cool," said Willie, who turned out to be a former hurdler at Crenshaw High School.
FM ON ICE
Sports impresario Charlie Finley, who is having a hard time connecting with holdout pitcher Vida Blue, also struck out in hockey when he failed to land a radio broadcasting contract for his California Golden Seals hockey team.
Enter Consciousness III Frequency Modulation. Perhaps in desperation, Finley granted permission for a listener-sponsored FM station in Berkeley, Calif., KPFA-FM, to broadcast a Seals game with the Chicago Black Hawks.
In the past, KPFA-FM had concentrated on oratory by Allen Ginsberg and Black Panthers and live coverage of riots more than it had on sports. But the station took its job seriously and even came up with innovations. Its stereo signal gave an echo-chamber effect to the rendition of the national anthem, and you haven't heard anything until you listen to the sound of an ice sweeper machine coming through two speakers. There also was an interview with a lonely fan stuck in the farthest reaches of the arena. "They told me that since I was a single, I shouldn't have too bad a location," observed the hapless consumer.
"We're hockey freaks," the KPFA-FM program director said. "This broadcast helped bridge the gap between our station and our first-world brothers and sisters who dig hockey."
Now, about this pitching problem, Charlie....
The enormous increase in the sale and use of snowmobiles continues to create problems. Hudson Janisch, a law professor at the University of Western Ontario, now says there is a genuine danger that Canadian landowners whose complaints about snowmobile trespassing are not satisfied may take the law into their own hands. "If the police do not respond satisfactorily, if local politicians are too sensitive to organized pressure groups, if the courts are too lenient in their sentences," he argues, "we will witness a dangerous and totally undesirable resort to self-help, be it eye-level piano-wire traps, homemade land mines or the trusty shotgun."
Janisch says some farmers have been economically damaged by snowmobilers who, assuming farm land was fallow during the winter, ruined latent crops by compacting the snow over them, thus destroying the protection and warmth the snow provides. Snowmobile clubs are generally aware of such problems and try to educate their members to them, but the rate of club growth is well behind the growth in the number of snowmobiles being used. "The clubs admit they have lost the control they used to have," Janisch says.
One of the biggest problems is the simple matter of catching violators. Even if police happen to be on hand, they have difficulty catching up to the highly maneuverable machines, and since license plates are small and usually snow-covered they are almost impossible to read at any distance. Interlopers go free and farmers go berserk.
THEY SAID IT
•Al McGuire, Marquette basketball coach, who has taken his team to a postseason tournament the last five years: "Sometimes I wish I would have a losing season just to see if I would be the same kind of person."
•Brooks Robinson, allowing that advancing age might require him to rest occasionally this season with the Orioles: "I might not play them all this year. I am thinking of taking off July 7, Aug. 22 and 23 and one other day after we clinch the division."
•Sully Krouse, University of Maryland wrestling coach, on the effect that UM basketball coach Lefty Driesell has had on campus: "Old Dribblepuss did a job for the university. He got the students off the back of the administration. Instead of marching down Route 1 and burning the Armory or protesting about Vietnam or the ROTC, the students got excited about basketball."