HARD AS NAILS
Nate Thurmond, the 6'11" center who had more than 14,000 points and 14,000 rebounds in his 14 years in the NBA, has just opened a manicure and pedicure salon in Beachwood, Ohio.
What with all the criticism about the quality of NFL officiating this season, Will McDonough of the Boston Globe makes these interesting observations:
The NFL had the fourth-, fifth-, sixth-and seventh-best referees working the opening round of playoff games. Where were 1, 2, 3? Sitting at home watching on TV.
January 9, 1978
The NFL system of assigning officials goes like this. During the regular season, officials are graded weekly. In the postseason, the top officials—referee, umpire, head linesman, line judge, back judge and field judge—get to work the Super Bowl. The officials rated second and third best get the conference championship games. The next four down the line work the opening playoff round. Thus in the opening round, the seventh-best referee (and umpire, head linesman, et al.)—out of the 15 in the league—officiates a playoff game. Inasmuch as all the crews that worked together during the season are broken up, most of the officials involved in a playoff game have not worked together before. It also means that the officials slated for the Super Bowl will have gone a month without working.
A better system would have the top four crews work the opening rounds, the two top crews the conference championships, and the top crew the Super Bowl.
How many basketball games have you been to where the crowd was so loud that the timekeeper didn't hear a referee whistle for a time-out? Clock hassles like that are unlikely to occur now, thanks to a new device known as the "Whistle-Stop Timer," which sells for $750. Invented by Tee Haithcock, Max Garrison and Clint Westbrook of Charlotte, N.C., the Whistle-Stop Timer consists of a receiving unit, which is attached to the scoreboard clock, and sending units, each about the size of a pack of cigarettes, which are worn by the referees. When one of the refs blows his whistle, which is wired to the sending unit, the clock stops, and it does not start until the ref presses a button on his unit.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has tested the timer in games and approved its use for next season. "Everybody's happy with it," says Commissioner Bob James. Besides ensuring that the clock stops immediately when the ref blows his whistle, which can be crucial toward the end of a game, the timer actually adds to the playing time. "The referees blow their whistles between 75 and 125 times a game," says Haithcock, "and if you save half a second each time, that can add up to almost a full minute during a game."
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
Do sports stars really use the products they endorse? Columnist George McEvoy of the Fort Lauderdale News recalls the time he ran into Dizzy Dean in a bar in Phoenix. He asked Dean if he really ate Wheaties, and Dizzy assured him that he did, every morning. "Podner," said Dean, "a big bowl of Wheaties and bourbon can't be beat."
IN THE BAG
When Bill Scott, a William & Mary football player, dressed up as Santa Claus for the basketball game against North Carolina and handed out candy canes to the Tar Heel players and their coach, Dean Smith, Smith asked if Santa had anything else in his bag of goodies. "Yes," replied Scott. "I have three points for William & Mary." Final score: William & Mary 78, North Carolina 75.
When Hubert Greene, a boat dealer on Lake Lure near Spindale, N.C., goes bass fishing, he takes his pet duck, Fudgey, along for more than the ride. Fudgey points bass the way a bird dog points quail. Greene found that out one day last summer when Fudgey swam near a bush, stuck his neck out as far as possible and pointed. "I believe there is a bass over there," Greene joked to a fishing companion. He cast a plastic worm toward the bush, and a four-pound largemouth was his.
Then there was the memorable day on a mountain lake when Fudgey suddenly squawked and flapped his wings before hurrying back to the boat. Greene cast a spinnerbait in the direction of the uproar and landed a nine-pound large-mouth. That same day, Fudgey outdid himself. He pointed at another bass. Greene cast, and this time he caught a 10-pounder.
The Greenes found Fudgey when he was a 3-day-old abandoned duckling. He got his name because his coloring then reminded the Greenes' teen-age son of fudge ripple ice cream. Fudgey was first afraid to swim, and only learned after the Greenes put on bathing suits and took him swimming. Shortly after Greene showed Fudgey how to dive underwater, the duck began grabbing minnows in shallow water and from there he went on to pointing bass.
Fudgey, who lives with the Greenes, is not housebroken. "How do you house-break a duck?" asks Mrs. Greene. As a result he gets an early supper and then takes a compulsory stroll outside. He spends the evening curled in Greene's lap on the sofa watching TV, and at night he sleeps next to the Greenes' bed. Once Fudgey annoyed Greene by scattering plastic worms all over the boat, but Greene found forgiveness easy; all he had to do was remind himself of the story about the man who killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.
UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has finished a year-long report on skateboarding. Among the findings:
An estimated 106,000 persons, nearly half of them 10 to 14 years old, were treated in hospital emergency rooms for skateboard injuries in the year ending last June 30. The figure is 30 times greater than that for the previous 12-month period.
One-third of those injured had been skateboarding for less than one week, and most were injured the first time they tried it. Two out of every five injuries involved people using borrowed boards. Fractures were the most common type of injury, occurring in about one-third of all accidents. More than half of all injuries were to the lower arm or lower leg.
In slightly more than 1% of the injuries, the skateboard itself was to blame for the accident, such as in the case of a wheel falling off.
The principal causes of accidents were: struck irregularity in riding surface, 32%; lost balance, 26%; slipped off board, 16%; other, such as being pushed, 13%, and board slipped out from under victim, 9%.
The report makes no formal recommendations on how to reduce skateboard hazards, but it does make clear that injuries would be reduced sharply if skateboards were kept off the streets and limited to controlled areas.
The latest monthly figures from the American Kennel Club show skyrocketing registrations for Doberman pinschers, prompting our old friend, Arthur Haggerty, proprietor of Captain Haggerty's School for Dogs in New York, to exclaim, "The Doberman pinscher is going to replace the German shepherd as the No. 2 breed behind the poodle this year! I'll guarantee that, though the AKC won't be releasing the figures until around April.
"A Doberman pinscher owner buys a Doberman, consciously or unconsciously, for protection," Captain Haggerty says. "In fact, it's a bit of a macho trip for some people. Then the owner gets panicky because people tell him the dog is going to turn on him. They'll ask me, 'Will the dog turn on me?' And I'll say, 'Not as long as you have him trained!' Basically that's true. But this should not be the first dog someone owns. Get a golden retriever, a German shepherd, almost anything else.
"Dobermans are extremely bright and pick up fast, but they're often hard to control. Asked to compare a Dobe with a shepherd, I say the Dobe will learn one-third faster but it will take three times longer to work off leash. He knows the stuff, but getting him to do it is something else. He can be too much dog, and buying one is like a little old lady driving a Porsche Turbo-carrera.
"Another peculiarity about the breed is that it is far more affectionate than other breeds. They're always coming up to be petted or to put their heads in your lap. If someone wants to get a Doberman, I recommend a female. There is virtually no trouble.
"Doberman owners will buy all sorts of badges and books about the breed," Haggerty goes on. "A shepherd owner is not as likely to buy a German shepherd belt buckle as a Doberman owner is to buy a Doberman belt buckle. My insights into Doberman owners made a bundle for a friend of mine who was going to come out with German shepherd and poodle car medallions. I told him, 'Go with the Doberman medallion first.' He sold the hell out of it."
ON THE ROAD
Road hunting is a new pastime practiced by flytiers, and the idea, says Eric Leiser, proprietor of the River Gate, a fly-fishing shop in Cold Spring, N.Y., is to drive with one eye on the road while the other scans the pavement and shoulders for dead birds and animals that might furnish materials. Leiser, the author of Fly-Tying Materials, the standard in the field, regularly carries a pair of pruning shears, a large plastic bag and a knife so he can collect his fur and feathers on the spot. The best time to go road hunting is in the early morning (many animals are run over at night), and the pickings are safest on back roads. Also, a road hunter should know the law because even possession of an out-of-season game bird or animal can result in a fine.
Quail, grouse and woodcock have body feathers that can be used as legs on nymphs now that the Feds have cracked down on the importation of English partridge. Leiser himself is high on woodchucks. "Three of my favorite flies—the Llama, the Au Sable Wulff and the Chuck Caddis—all have woodchuck guard hair as wings," he says. "It's stronger than deer hair, has better markings and, believe it or not, it floats better. Why, I have to weight my Llamas to get them to sink."
But the top road-hunting prize is a red fox. Trappers now get $55 to $65 a skin, and the red fox vixen is particularly sought after because Art Flick, a leading flytier, calls for urine-stained vixen fur in his version of the Hendrickson.
Last summer, a friend of Leiser's stopped by the side of a road in the Cats-kills after spotting a dead woodchuck. He opened the trunk of his car, picked up the carcass and began dressing it out. He paid no attention to the sound of a car stopping behind him. When he finished he looked around, and there was a huge state trooper who said, before turning on his heel, "I know what you're doing is not illegal, but I just can't believe that you're doing it."
THE LONG AND THE SHORT
The long: Utah State and Idaho State, only 90 miles apart, will play one another in football this year in Osaka, Japan, 6,000 miles away. The last time Utah State played in Osaka, the Aggies walloped a Japanese team so badly that their hosts requested they bring their own opponent when they play there next time.
The short: Palmer Junior College in Davenport, Iowa, is only 12 miles from Moline, Ill., but the Palmer basketball team flew there in two planes for the game against Black Hawk College. "All top-notch basketball teams fly," says Coach Denny Aye. "Why not us?"
THEY SAID IT
•Robert Trent Jones, golf architect, on a new green he has designed for a Texas course in the shape of that vast state: "A drainage channel on the left represents the Rio Grande. A pond on the right is the Gulf of Mexico. The sand trap at the back stands for Oklahoma."
•Mort Melamed, 47-year-old hockey player in the Minnesota Oldtimers' League, on 67-year-old teammate, Kenny Haan: "We like to say Kenny chases the puck, but he can't remember why anymore."