SET 'EM OP IN THE OTHER ALLEY
It does not require a Solomon to decide what to do when boys invade a girl's sport. Show them the way out.
This is not what happened recently at the Girls State Bowling Tournament in Peoria, Ill. A team from Dixon with four boys starting was allowed to compete. The reason the boys were there was that the school board had funded only one bowling team. It reasoned, if that is the correct term, that since a Champaign County court had ruled earlier that girls could compete on boys' teams if no girls' teams were available, the reverse should be true. Dixon won the tournament. The fact that Vicki Jacobs, its only female bowler, led her side's scoring in the second round with 210, did nothing to lift the pall the authorities cast over the tournament by their action.
Why is it just to allow girls to join boys' teams but not the reverse? Because of their size and musculature, boys, particularly after they reach their middle teens, will inevitably dominate girls' games, as the boys from Dixon did. It is only the extraordinary girl who can ever hope to compete on a par with boys, even in a sport like bowling. The rationale for letting her do so is that until very recently she had no other outlet for her athletic talents. As more sports are funded on an equal basis, and facilities shared equally, there will be fewer girls testing themselves against the boys. So off to your own alleys, gentlemen.
February 23, 1975
MA BELL'S PERFECT BLENDSHIP
It is no longer a secret who Ron Watts is. He is Bill Russell's friend in the telephone commercial who taught Russell everything he ever knew about basketball.
Bell has been swamped with inquiries about the TV ad and Watts has become a celebrity. A 6'6" native of Washington, D.C., he played for Wake Forest in the mid-'60s. He roomed there with the late Brian Piccolo and, during a two-year stay with the Boston Celtics—where he got into 28 games as a reserve center and averaged 1.4 points a game—with Russell. "Injuries then shortened what promised to be a bleak career, he reports.
Watts is a Washington insurance executive and, as a result of the national exposure, a constant guest at luncheons and on radio and TV shows. "I'm stopped on the streets a lot by people who've seen the commercial." he says. "They always ask, 'Who's that guy Bill Russell I see you with on TV?' "
RSVP OR RIP?
Swimming gamely upstream against a torrent of criticism over the new swimming pool that anonymous donors are building for him in the official residence at Ottawa, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau turned gracious host. "You may come over any time to practice your diving," he told Opposition member Tom Cossitt. "Even before the water is in."
CANNINESS ON THE COURSE
Ah, mon, there are more than a few canny Scots left and it wouldna surprise us if some of the wariest of them are at this very moment stalking the gorse of the Royal and Ancient preparing a trap.
As you no doubt recall, the lairds of St. Andrews took a giant step forward—or backward, according to one's outlook—when they granted contestants in the Women's Open this June access not only to the clubhouse locker and changing accommodations but to the Silence Room (SCORECARD, Oct. 14, 1974). Maggots in the haggis, rolling in the grave, say it's nae sae, Mac! It is, but now comes a hint that the battle has not yet been adjourned. The General Committee has been meeting to consider the purchase of property adjoining the Old Course's 18th green, where a building could be constructed for the use of the ladies of members. A holding action, we suspect, that in terms of U.S. social history will advance Scottish women's rights to the end of the 19th century; separate but unequal.
PROGRAMMED FOR PRECISION
Since he makes his living with input, it probably made sense that sooner or later Fred Newman would discover that his true interest in sport was precisely that, input.
This came upon Newman, a real-time systems programmer with Control Data Corporation, in October 1973 when he was working out in the YMCA gym in San Jose, Calif. He wondered if he could put the ball in the basket from the free throw line 100 times in a row. Could he ever. Fred Newman should find a secure niche in history as the alltime Johnny One Note of foul shooting.
Newman is six feet, 180 pounds, wears heavy-framed glasses, a pleasant smile and an insouciant air that mask the superb athlete underneath. At Cal Tech he won 11 varsity letters in live sports, and was all-conference in football once and basketball three times. He always had a shooting touch, he says, although he was never considered particularly strong at the foul line.
In his second week of practicing earnestly he was up to 139 foul shots without a miss. He went to four-hour sessions twice a week and this September tried a 24-hour marathon at Tech. Tossing balls up at the rate of one every 6½ seconds (including rest breaks), he sank 12,777 of 13,097 for a 97.6 completion rate, exceeding by seven percentage points the record set two months earlier by Floridian Ted St. Martin. He missed by only 24 the mark for consecutive free throws (386). Anybody else might be content with that. Newman thought there were too many misses for a properly laid-out program, and it was back to the gym.
We are happy to report that Newman has just about licked the problem of human fallibility. He has been achieving better than a 99% rate on his shots and in November hit 1,418 straight. (Nobody was watching, so Newman rushed out for a lie detector test, and he passed.)
Newman makes no claim about where this will all end—sometimes his wife Evelyn wishes it would—but he will try another marathon or two and hopes to avoid the pitfalls of the last one when his right (shooting) wrist went numb in the 20th hour and the skin on three fingers of his left hand was split from catching the return ball. He has one thing going for him the next time, he says. He has learned to concentrate. He swears his mind used to wander.
SNAP, CRACKLE, POP
" 'A soldier's life is terrible hard' says Alice." Alice knew nothing about modern hockey.
Take the snake-bit Toronto Maple Leafs. With two months of the campaign to go they have already lost 130 man-games because of injury or illness—36 by Ian Turnbull (torn knee ligaments), 20 by Borje Salming (broken finger, cracked heel bone, bruised ribs), 13 by Jim McKenny (bruised thigh, cracked thumb, eye injury). Bob Neely lost 14 (bruised hand, sprained ankle, flu), Darryl Sittler, eight (pulled shoulder muscles), and there were many more.
No one on the Leafs, though, got it like Chicago Black Hawk Defenseman Keith Magnuson, who was almost a Toronto roster wrapped into one. Early in the season he suffered a hairline fracture of the wrist and was out 18 games. He was not back very long before he drew a three-day suspension, not especially for breaking the jaw of Vancouver's Chris Oddleifson, but for striking him with a taped hand. That broke a new NHL rule.
Magnuson had the flu later—no lost games there—and then a fight with Pittsburgh's Bob (Battleship) Kelly, by reputation the toughest scrapper in hockey. Magnuson fractured his ankle and is not expected back until mid-March. Alice, he couldn't change the guard at Buckingham Palace now if he had to.
WHEN IT RAINS
First the bad news. After a tedious eight-hour trip through an icy New England rain, the Colby Mules were sent packing back to Waterville, Maine without once stepping on the basketball court. Leaks in the roof over old Pratt Cage had washed out the game with Amherst. Now the worse. When the two officials assigned to the game returned to the dressing room to change, they discovered that the wallet of one had been stolen and the key chains of both. Finally, the good news. One of their cars was still in the parking lot.
WRONG OF INDIA
China beat Yugoslavia to take the 33rd World Table Tennis Championships in Calcutta (page 56), and host nation India, which is developing a knack for this sort of thing, dealt another blow to sportsmanship. It barred from play Israel and South Africa on what it termed, without apparent embarrassment, "political grounds." It approved, just as arbitrarily, a six-member delegation from the Palestine Liberation Organization, which had not appeared on the list of entries. Having forfeited—on political grounds, too—its right to meet South Africa in the Davis Cup finals last fall, India now stands 0-2 over the last half year in what was once regarded as friendly international sport.
This magazine has repeatedly pointed out the dangers of mixing politics with sport. Earlier this year the Soviet Union became chary about its Red Army basketball team playing against the Israelis in the European Cup and, in fact, did not play. Will the Russians make similar decisions when the 1980 Olympics are held in Moscow? The International Olympic Committee should insist now upon public and unequivocal guarantees for the participation and safety of athletes of all nations accredited for the 1980 Games. And much as we deplore coercion, India must be made to know by the international governing bodies of sports in which she participates that nations that do not play by the rules are ruled off.
HOOKING AN ALEWIFE
Somehow, one gets the feeling W.C. Fields might actually have liked this child. She is 10-year-old Bibiana, and her mother, Mrs. Howard Nichols of Belmond, Iowa, bless her, tells this story. Bibi was in a class at school where the topic was environment and water pollution and how water tastes differently from one town to the next. When the kids were asked to tell their own experiences with water, Bibi raised her right hand.
"Last summer when we were up at Clear Lake on vacation," she said eagerly, "the water was so bad my mom had to drink beer all day."
John McCormick, the literate sports enthusiast and occasional contributor to this magazine who incidentally is a professor of English at Princeton, is worried that under the money crunch college sport may lose something more than an athletic program or two when the deans start slashing into budgets.
"Think hard," he advises the deans, "for you might eliminate that student who thought that John Keats' sonnet, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer, was about baseball." As McCormick describes him, he seems worth saving.
"Reflection suggests that the baseball-minded student probably unconsciously amended Keats' title with a comma after 'First,' thus producing a vision of Keats, after beating out a single, having to stay on the bag as he watches Chapman's low, rising line drive pass over his head and just miss the foul pole for a Homer. Keats' Chapman was George, who first translated the Iliad and the Odyssey into English between 1598 and 1616. But which Chapman was the student thinking about? The records list 11: Ben, Calvin, Ed, two Freds, Glenn, Harry, Jack, John, Ray and Sam."
Got us, but as they used to say in Macedonia, it's a subject worth Perseusing.
THEY SAID IT
•Fred Shero, Philadelphia Flyers coach, on controlling hockey violence: "There never has been a death attributed to a hockey fight. Why don't they write about the good things for a change."
•Marv Hubbard, Oakland Raider fullback: "People say we can't win the big games. The only thing I have to say about that is, we can't win the big games."
•Glenn Cameron, Florida linebacker and Cincinnati's No. 1 draft choice, asked his college major: "Academic survival."
•Raymond Henson, father of Ohio State fullback and Viking draftee, Champ, on his son's leaving the family farm to play pro football: "I'm going to have to buy a tractor to pull the plow."