THE GREATEST MONTH
"There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir," wrote Poet Bliss Carman, and his words most surely apply to the sporting scene. Of all the months of the year, none can match October in richness and variety. For anglers and hunters and hikers, it is a time to rejoice afield. For more sedentary sorts, October means the World Series, pro football, college football, pro basketball and hockey. To keep up with the rush of events, last Saturday radio station WSYR in Syracuse, N.Y. broadcast the Syracuse-Penn State football game; No. 6 of the Series; the New York Knicks vs. the Chicago Bulls; and a hockey encounter between the Syracuse Blazers and the Maine Nordiques. In an individual effort to get the best of the October glut, a duck hunter, John Vargo of Verplanck, N.Y., who sometimes fishes from his blind, has thought of bringing along a transistor radio to tune in between bites and birds. A clever solution, perhaps, but the real answer, as far as we are concerned, would be to find some way to save one week in October to dole out in February.
MONEY TO PLAY WITH
Indianapolis will become the 14th member of the World Hockey Association next year. Big deal, you might say. Interesting deal is more like it. Indiana Pro Sports Management, Inc., a subsidiary of the company that owns the ABA Pacers, originally wanted a National Hockey League franchise and formally applied last year when ground was broken for a new downtown arena. After the franchises went to Washington, D.C. and Kansas City, Indy Pro Sports went after Charles Finley's California Seals. Charlie O., who lives in La Porte, was eager for the deal and planned to switch this year, when the NHL vetoed the operation in midsummer. With that, IPS turned to the WHA.
"There were a number of reasons," says Chuck DeVoe, president of the company. "Timing, economics and the ability for us to build a competitive club much more quickly than in the NHL. With our new arena opening in 1974, it was imperative that we have a hockey team by then. And frankly, the WHA seemed to be much more businesslike and aggressive than the NHL. There are significant differences in costs. The last franchises granted by the NHL went for $6 million. Our WHA franchise cost a little over $2 million. That gives us $4 million to go after hockey players. Obviously, we are going to sign the best players available regardless of where they are."
VOICES IN THE RIGGING
If you dig weird hallucinations, you don't need LSD to generate them. Just try sailing single-handed from Plymouth, England to Newport, R.I. That, at least, is the burden of an article in The Lancet, one of Britain's leading medical journals, analyzing the experiences of 34 competitors in the 1972 single-handed transatlantic yacht race sponsored by the London Observer. The yachtsmen ranged in age from 26 to 57 and in occupation from naval officer to bank manager, including a dentist, a croupier, a newspaper publisher and a bandleader. Since the single-handed sailor must be constantly alert to weather changes and other craft, most of the competitors allowed themselves only short snatches of sleep. Thus it did not take long for the combination of tension, loneliness and fatigue to begin conjuring up images.
"Eventually," said one, "there was no difference between sleeping and waking. You went about in a kind of 'sleep-wake.' " A multilingual Polish yachtsman solved the loneliness problem by carrying on conversations with himself in different languages. Another recorded in his log: "Usual voices in the rigging—calling 'Bill, Bill,' rather high pitched. Dreams of people and boats." Another man was lying in his bunk when he heard someone topside putting his 52-foot trimaran about on the opposite tack. As he headed up the passageway to investigate, a spectral sailor hustled past him. The boat had indeed come about and was on the correct course.
But not all the spooks were friendly. "For instance," says The Lancet, "a very weary sailor was close to the Belgian coast and saw two men on the shore beckoning him and pointing to the harbour entrance. He did not go in for some reason but anchored offshore. In the morning he woke after a long sleep to find only rocks along that stretch of coast." Shades of the Lorelei, British style.
Separated by more than half the continent, the University of Maryland basketball team and the Wyoming football team have one thing in common: use of dance to help reduce injury. It started last spring at Wyoming when All-Western Athletic Conference Cornerback Fritz Turner took ballet as a fun course. He became such a balletomane that other defensive backs started taking lessons under the direction of his teacher, Joy Deadrick. "After watching Fritz take ballet and seeing what it did for him, we decided to have everyone take it," says Defensive Backfield Coach Leon Burtnett. "To carry it one step further, we've gone completely to flexibility exercises instead of calisthenics. It's worked out well so far. We haven't had any pulled muscles, which is very unusual for a defensive secondary." Turner also finds ballet techniques most helpful in covering a receiver. "The biggest thing is to be able to come back to the ball when a receiver cuts," he says. "There's a technique called a turning, which means you spread your hips more or less, and that really helps you come back fast to the ball."
Last week at Maryland, Ilse Schaumann, a petite private teacher of modern dance, worked out with the basketball team at the invitation of Assistant Coach Howard White, an enthusiast. After some joking the players didn't mind imitating her movements; as Tom Mc-Millen, the All-America forward, remarked, "I've had a lot of this before through karate lessons." Miss Schaumann would like to work with the players about twice a week; the coach, controversial Lefty Driesell, is adopting a wait-and-see approach.
The bands were playing, cheerleaders were bouncing around, the loudspeaker was blaring, vendors were hawking programs and a crowd of 5,000 football fans was on hand in Waynesburg, Pa. for the game between Waynesburg and California State College. It was a gorgeous day, and everyone was there who was supposed to be there—except the officials. In a slipup, the regional commissioner's office had failed to notify those who were to work the game. The game was called off.
LIGHT ON THE BLACKOUT
The commissioner of the Canadian Football League, Jake Gaudaur, is candid when he talks about his sport. "If we lifted our TV blackouts, our sport couldn't stand up to it," Gaudaur told Jim Golla of the Toronto Globe and Mail. "The argument against going to a game when it is on TV is very strong. You don't have to sit out in the rain and cold. You don't have to arrange for baby-sitters and you don't have transportation problems getting there and going home.
"TV puts the fans on the midfield stripe," Gaudaur continued, "and he gets the chance to see the replays—something he doesn't get at the game. The fans have become more sophisticated and more and more demanding of comfort. The [U.S.] government has declared that football must give its product away. I believe it is an interim step that will lead to all games being on television regardless of home attendance."
The junior varsity teams of Georgia Tech and Florida experimented with kickoffs from their respective 30-yard lines in Atlanta Friday night after Tech Athletic Director Bobby Dodd had received permission from the NCAA to try it.
There were no major effects of the change in the game, won by Tech 21-10; neither team ran back a kickoff for a touchdown but no kick made the end zone, either. Dodd is of the opinion that the soccer-style kickers who can knock the ball out of the end zone are actually hurting football. "One of the prettiest plays in the game, the kickoff return, has been taken out of college and pro football, and it has taken out a lot of the excitement with it," he says.
Dodd also says the receiving team, especially when it has just been scored upon, should be able to start from farther upfield than the 20. "As it is right now," he claimed, "when a team is so deep in its own territory, it runs three plays and then punts. It is very hesitant to try to pass when it's that deep. I don't feel the team that just got scored on should be penalized with bad field position, and that's what's happening with the 40-yard-line kick."
Florida JV Coach Jack Hall agreed that the change had merits. "When the other team kicks off from the 30, you should be able to get the ball back at least to your own 30, and that would make the game more interesting. I'm glad now we tried it."
Both Dodd and Tech JV Coach Dick Bestwick also felt it might be even better to move kickoffs to the 35. Said Dodd, "Maybe it should be the 35 for the colleges and the 30 for the pros." He now wants to try it in a varsity game. Sounds like a fine idea.
Good news for the pals of the peregrine! Researchers at Cornell University believe they have whipped the pesticide problem that has reduced the falcon to an endangered species throughout the United States. The problem, of course, is that peregrines and other predatory birds at the top of the food chain have been getting so much DDT and other hard pesticides in their natural food that their eggs become thin-shelled and often break before hatching. Starting in the spring of 1971, Cornell's Peregrine Fund birdmen began an attempt at raising them. Their breeding stock, which now numbers 38 birds, is housed in the "hawk barn," a two-story, 220-foot-long building that looks out through wire onto woods.
Fed entirely on "clean food"—mainly chickens and quail which themselves have had no pesticides in their diets—the falcons mate in their artificial aeries and scratch out their "scrapes" in the gravel of the ledges. The female produces from three to five pinkish-tan, brown-flecked, chicken-sized eggs. By removing the eggs each time a clutch is laid it is possible to get the birds to "recycle" and lay again. Three breeding pairs this spring produced 26 normal-shelled eggs, from which 20 chicks were raised.
"With the DDT ban in effect nationally," says Dr. Tom Cade, the fund's director, "the environment is cleaning itself up more quickly than we had anticipated. We hope to begin releasing birds this spring, and if our field tests on the feasibility of this method of artificial breeding work out, I think we can have the peregrine firmly reestablished in eastern North America by 1980." The technique will work only if the environment remains relatively free of pesticides, and the only fly in the ointment is that a major proportion of the birds migrate each winter to Latin America, where DDT is used copiously. But that fact is countered by the success Cade and his co-workers have had with the peregrine and other birds of prey, including the prairie falcon, red-tailed hawk, goshawk, Harris's hawk and even the golden eagle. Keep 'em flying. Dr. Cade.
THEY SAID IT
•Phil DeLucca, associate warden at Colorado State Reformatory, after five inmates disappeared from the cafeteria of Colorado College and two other prisoners failed to make the bus back to jail following the prison team's defeat 67-0: "I think the program has ceased for the time being."
•Dick Butkus, Chicago Bear linebacker, speaking at a Monday morning quarterback meeting: "Mirro Roder is going to be the best field-goal kicker in the league in a year or two. Well, so much for our offense."
•Lee Corso, Indiana University football coach, asked where the future of his standout safety Quinn Buckner lay, since he plays basketball and football with equal brilliance: "I think it's in economics."