Out of the Ball Park
Dedicated as we are to the contemplation of earthly affairs, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has no way of evaluating the full significance of the latest Soviet space shot which seems at this writing to have streaked right past the moon and into the sun field. As sportsmen, however, we cannot help emitting an enthusiastic if almost involuntary cheer when anyone steps up to the plate and knocks the ball clean out of the park.
As we said, we don't know quite what it proves, but we can't help wishing one of our boys had been at bat.
Predictions for 1959 being all the vogue these early January days, we mean to essay one of our own. It amounts to this: there is a slim, marginal, outside chance that the penalty for out-of-bounds golf balls may be reduced sometime fairly soon. It may—barring open rebellion by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland against the United States Golf Association.
As currently written, the penalty for lost, unplayable and out-of-bounds balls is stroke and distance, i.e., two strokes and back to the original lie. To most U.S. golfers the penalty seems fair enough for lost and unplayable balls. It discourages, at least, a too hasty judgment on whether your ball is really lost or is really unplayable. But out of bounds is out of bounds, U.S. golfers argue, and since no casual conclusion is involved, a one-stroke penalty would do nicely. And it had been that way, off and on, until 1951 when the USGA and the R&A drew up a unified code. The Scots, conservative and all that, insisted on equal penalties.
This May, at the third rules meeting between the two factions, the matter will be officially thrashed over for the second time. "There is a strong feeling in this country to reduce the out-of-bounds penalty and let the others stand," says an officer of the USGA. There is also support in Britain, acknowledges one R&A member, but there is an on-the-other-hand attitude, too. "It was tried some years ago here and was most unpopular," he said. "Some still feel if you reduce the out-of-bounds penalty only, the chap who loses a ball may look you in the eye and tell you he lost it out of bounds. If you buy that, you may give him a stroke."
Well, anyhow, even if the rule is changed, it will not go into effect until 1960. By next January, should our prediction be all wrong, you most likely will have forgotten we ever got your hopes up.
Is Football Educational?
When the legislators of Texas gather in Austin next week, they will be called upon to decide an issue of major consequence to the state's football future. The issue: Do intercollegiate sports constitute an educational activity? If so, the state auditor is ready to rule, state-college athletic programs in Texas can be supported by taxpayers' money; if not, state colleges must stop dipping into funds appropriated for educational purposes, must either make ends meet or constrict athletics.