That's how legend had it anyway, and legend usually had it when the subject was Fats. His true talents were schmoozing and self-promotion. Fats rarely beat his dapper rival Willie Mosconi, who won 15 world titles—15 more than Fats, whose bluster was better than his bank shots. But after they began a series of matches on ABC's Wide World of Sports in the 70s, the viewing audience would invariably remember more about Fats's running commentary than Mosconi's nonpareil talent.
Fats died one day before what most people believe would have been his 83rd birthday. No one ever knew just how old Fats was, but it doesn't really matter—legendaries, after all, are somehow ageless.
More Trophies, Less Allure
On April 29 the Indiana High School Athletic Association board of directors will meet to decide whether to eradicate one of the great traditions in American scholastic sports: the single-class state basketball tournament in hoop-crazy Hoosierland. In the single-class format, high schools from the smallest towns in Indiana can face powerhouses from Indianapolis. The new plan calls for a three-class tournament, which would pit schools of similar size against one another, the system used in most other state tournaments. Proponents of change like a multiclass system primarily because it would provide more teams with the honor of being champions.
Opposing the change is a formidable group of Hoosier immortals who played in the traditional format, including John Wooden, Oscar Robertson and George McGinnis. And Bobby Plump is against it too. In Indiana the name Plump is every bit as big as the others. He's the player who made the winning basket for tiny Milan High when it beat powerful Muncie Central in 1954, the inspiration for the 1986 movie Hoosiers. "I've had people say, 'Bobby, you're just trying to hold on to your old glory,' " says Plump, 59, a businessman in Indianapolis. "But that's not it. If we have separate classes, there can never be another Milan."
And that's where the real loss occurs. While it's true that no small school has won it all since Milan, every year there are major upsets early, in the sectionls, which are the focal point of the Indiana tournament. Besides, high school sports are supposed to be about dreams, and that's why tradition should not be discarded for the sake of handing out a few more trophies.
The Skin Games
By some standards SI's swimsuit models (beginning on page 58) are overdressed. Membership in the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) has doubled to nearly 50,000 in the last 10 years and there are some 200 U.S. clubs and resorts where guests are permitted to do their thing.
The word naked, as every gym rat ought to know, derives from the Greek gymnos (the literal translation of gymnazein is "to train naked"), and its presence in sports dates at least to the first Olympics, in which athletes competed au naturel. Though the nude pentathlon is pretty much a lost art, a recent AANR survey of 1,200 nudists exposes some intriguing facts about which sports are most popular among the clothing-free. In addition to predictable responses like swimming and walking, there were billiards (22%), horseshoes (12%), darts (9%) and baseball or softball (8%). "Most people find they like nude activities when they try them," says AANR president Leonite Moore, who practices nudism in Tulsa. "It eases mental stress to be out on the grass with the sun and breeze on your body."
Sounds great. But how to explain the 156 survey respondents who favor snow skiing?