FUN AND GAMES OR WHAT?
This is an article from the Sept. 3, 1973 issue
Here is a thought-provoking comment by a professional athlete on the reaction of fans to his sport. Montreal Expo Pitcher Mike Marshall said recently, "Montreal has some of the most extreme fans of any city I've ever been in. When the team wins, they go berserk with excitement. When it's losing, they are the quickest to boo, hiss and complain.
"I wish a good sociologist would make a study of it. In my opinion, it indicates something is seriously lacking in their lives to put so much importance in their teams' winning or losing."
World Team Tennis, the new rich kid on the pro court, held its first player draft recently, and some of its picks were heavy with territorial imperative: favorite daughter Chris Evert to Miami; John Newcombe to Houston, near his T-Bar-M tennis ranch; California resident Rod Laver to San Diego; ex-Northwestern star Marty Riessen to Chicago. Philadelphia, trying to avoid another loser, grabbed Billie Jean King.
Star players seem receptive to World Team Tennis, but questions keep popping up. Will Evert, a loyalist in the battle between the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association and the Virginia Slims tour, buck the USLTA now? The USLTA is under the umbrella of the International Lawn Tennis Federation, and rumors persist that the ILTF will suspend anyone who competes in the WTT. Further, will members of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), who boycotted Wimbledon to gain voice in the administration of the game, sign WTT contracts that would commit them to a subordinate position? WTT apparently thinks not, for ATP leaders Stan Smith, Cliff Drysdale and Arthur Ashe were drafted 43rd, 53rd and 74th. Finally, where in the crowded pro tennis schedule can WTT fit its proposed three-month season? World Championship Tennis (WCT) controls play from January into May, and under the tennis peace treaty the remaining 7½ months of the year belong to the Davis Cup and ILTF-sanctioned tournaments.
WTT has not only brought more initials into tennis to compete with ILTF, USLTA, WCT and ATP (not to mention WITF and WTA, the women's groups), it may bring back WAR
MOUTHS OF CHILDREN
Bill Mazeroski, now a coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates, has a 2-year-old son named David, who sits in the dugout and watches while the club takes batting practice. One day last week when the Pirates, who have been stumbling along below .500, had finished practice and were leaving the field, Mazeroski came and got David and began walking to the clubhouse. As he did, David looked up and asked, "Did we lose again, Daddy?"
It used to be that the NFL rated passers only on their comparative performances in a given season. But the league has come up with a measuring rod that rates a passer against men of all seasons, even himself a year or more earlier. The NFL has explained in a press release, or tried to explain, what the new standard is and how it was arrived at, but after reading passages like this—"The 2.375 figure in average yards is 12.50, compared with the NFL record of 11.17, while to earn 2.375 in percentage of touchdowns a passer would have to achieve 11.9"—it is easier to nod your head and mumble, "mm-hmm, I see," even if you don't.
Boiled way down, every passer who has ever had his yardage counted has been measured again. From all this historical data a standard scale from best to worst has been established and converted into percentages. A passer with a rating of 60% on the scale is ordinary, an 80% passer excellent, a 100% passer well-nigh perfect. Well-nigh but not quite, because according to the new scale Roger Staubach reached 104.75 during Dallas' Super Bowl year, and Bart Starr in 1966 was even better: 105.1. The famous Sammy Baugh was 109.7 back in 1945, and the best of them all—a bit of a letdown here—was Cleveland's Milt Plum, with 110.4 in 1960.
As disconcerting as the intelligence that Plum had the single best season of any passer in history is the NFL's list of the 10 top career performances: 1) Len Dawson, 83.9; 2) Sonny Jurgensen, 82.4; 3) Bart Starr, 80.3; 4) Fran Tarkenton, 79.7; 5) John Unitas, 78.8; 6) Otto Graham, 78.1; 7) Frank Ryan, 77.7; 8) Sid Luckman, 75.8; 9) Norm Van Brocklin, 75.3; 10) Earl Morrall, 74.9.
Never mind John Unitas down there at No. 5 and Sid Luckman at No. 8 behind Frank Ryan. Where is Joe Namath? Bob Waterfield? Y.A. Tittle? Where is Baugh, who led the league in passing six times, completed 70.3% of his passes one year and averaged 56.5% for 16 seasons?
Back to the drawing board, NFL.
Some colleges are antagonistic to pro football, but not the University of Tampa, whose president, Dr. Bob Owens, says, "The University of Tampa believes the Tampa area is ripe for pro football. We at U-T wish to help if we can."
He said the school's practice field and training facilities would be available for a pro team to use until it could build its own and added, "I would hope we can work together. We could cooperate on things such as season-ticket sales, developing lists, enriching the market."
The various groups trying to land the franchise have pledged cooperation with the university, and one even said it might try to arrange for the university to acquire a small percentage of the pro club to help finance its athletic program. "We would not be disinclined to consider such an investment," said Dr. Owens.
The ivory poachers who were always trying to shoot down Tantor the Elephant in the movies of the '30s are back. In Kenya it is reported that wild elephants are being illegally slaughtered by the hundreds for their tusks. A Kenya game department official says, "There are two reasons why elephant poaching has run wild. First, general monetary unrest in the world has led to hoarding of ivory as a stable commodity, especially in Hong Kong and Japan. Second, there is the ivory loophole for wealthy Europeans and Asians being forced out of the country. They are not allowed to export dollars or pounds sterling, but they can ship ivory out." By buying and exporting a single tusk, a man can send a thousand dollars out of Kenya. As a consequence, black-market ivory has gone up from $1.43 a kilo in 1971 to $21.43 a kilo now. Thus, to a poacher, a well-tusked elephant can be worth $3,000. Dead elephants are found with their faces hacked open and the tusks gone. Dhows—the graceful, shallow-draft Arab sailing vessels—come up creeks and rivers from the sea, load up with clandestine tusks and off-load onto cargo vessels outside the 12-mile limit.
Bobby Floyd is a graduate of Lawrence (Kans.) High School who is headed for Texas Christian on a football scholarship. He was chosen to play with the East All-Stars in a Kansas high school East-West football game. He was also a pitcher and first baseman for the Lawrence Hawks in American Legion baseball. The Hawks were in a district tournament in Ottawa, Kans. Practice for the all-star football game was in Wichita, 150 miles away. Floyd therefore commuted from Wichita to Ottawa so that he could play in the baseball tournament, too.
After football practice one Monday, he drove to Ottawa and pitched a three-hitter. He made the same trip Tuesday and played first base. Did the same Wednesday for a doubleheader, which Lawrence had to sweep to capture the district title. Floyd hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the 13th to win the first game, and another three-run homer in the first inning of the second game, which Lawrence won to take the title and move on to the state tournament.
The state tournament began Friday at McPherson, only 55 miles from Wichita. but on Friday the football coaches said no, because their game was that night. Floyd started in the defensive secondary but played on offense long enough to lead the East in rushing and set up its only touchdown. On Saturday he rested, and on Sunday he played only two innings of baseball. On Monday, at full throttle again, he pitched a three-hit shutout and hit a two-run homer as Lawrence won 3-0, and on Tuesday, when Lawrence was finally eliminated, he had one hit, scored two runs and pitched three innings of relief.
Wonder if there were any track meets he could have looked in on as he drove back and forth from Wichita?
The excitement over graphite-shafted golf clubs (SCORECARD, April 30) has spilled over into fishing where, according to Jim Green of Fenwick Products, graphite fly rods and casting rods "will have such an astounding impact on the fisherman's performance that all of the old standards as we've known them will disappear or be changed." The great appeal of the graphite rod is its lightness in comparison to its stiffness. The graphites, because of their lighter weight and responsiveness, are remarkably sensitive. The only drawback is price: about $150 for a casting rod, $200 for a fly rod.
MUMBLE, MUMBLE, HUT!
A new college football rule may make the game less gabby and the quarterbacks less articulate. It requires that every player wear a mouth protector or a tooth guard, rather like the boxers wear. Not only do they protect the teeth but, according to physicians, they will help cut down on concussions.
What nobody seemed to foresee is that the mouthpieces make it much more difficult for the wearers to speak distinctly. One college coach says they raise problems for quarterbacks in particular, especially when they want to use an audible at the line of scrimmage, and also for players calling out defensive signals. Kansas has ordered special guards that enable quarterbacks to be heard more clearly over the roar of the crowd. Of the standard tooth guards David Jaynes, Kansas quarterback, says, "You can give signals and instructions just as loud but it's harder to make yourself understood."
And, as is known to anyone who ever has stood along the sidelines at a football game, an awful lot of what might be called conversation—threats, needling—goes on between opposing linemen. This year, down in the pit, there may be just a lot of glub-glubbing.
PASS THE POTASSIUM
"The use of salt for athletes has been overemphasized," says Dr. Richard L. Westerman of Kalamazoo, Mich., who with team trainer Charles Martin tested Northeast Louisiana University football players for two years. The athletes were divided into three groups, one taking water, a second taking water and salt tablets, a third taking a solution that included salt and potassium. The third group showed much the best reaction after vigorous practice sessions, indicating that not salt but potassium is the key. When potassium is lost, Dr. Westerman says, the cells cannot function properly, and this creates fatigue and exhaustion.
"Too much salt can hurt the body," the doctor says, "and regardless of how much salt an athlete takes, heavy work will still cause a potassium loss."
THEY SAID IT
•John McKay, Southern California football coach: "Behind every fired college coach stands a college president."
•Ralph Kiner, ex-ballplayer and current sportscaster, on how unexciting it is to watch Phil Niekro and other knuckleball pitchers: "It's like watching Mario Andretti park a car."
•Clyde Hodges, 140-pound computer salesman and avid bridge player: "When I sit down to play bridge, I feel like Dick Butkus. I want to hit. I don't see the opponent as a person but as a target, an object to be crushed."
•Don Fambrough, University of Kansas football coach, on what he can learn about his players in spring practice: "You can't really tell anything from spring practice. It's like having your daughter come in at four o'clock in the morning with a Gideon Bible."