TV: FRIEND OR FOE?
The average Englishman, a recent Gallup Poll indicates, prefers snoozing through summer Saturday afternoons to all other forms of recreation. The men who run the English Football League suspect that's what a lot of Englishmen have been doing on Saturday afternoons in fall and winter, too—instead of going to football (i.e., soccer) games. Ten years ago total attendance reached 41 million; by last season, it had fallen to 33 million.
To reverse this sleepy trend, the league last week abandoned one of its most cherished doctrines: Television is Bad for the Game. In return for �150,000 ($420,000), it will permit live TV coverage of some 20 matches this season. But only a part of each game will be shown (five minutes of the first half and the whole of the second), and the televised matches will be played in the evening, so as not (theoretically) to interfere with more important games in the afternoon.
What the league hopes to do is attract an entirely new audience, "including millions of women who watch TV on Saturday nights." Accordingly, it will hand almost a third of its fee (�45,000) back to the TV companies to run commercials of its own. "How strange," the London Daily Mail remarked, "to see a great national game accepting a fat fee for allowing its supporters to be lured away, and then paying some of the money to the same agency to get them back."
The league's decision to embrace television is indeed a big gamble. Englishmen, when they do interrupt their snoozes these days, are almost certain to bowl or swim or golf. "If the masses are melting from the grandstand," the Daily Mail continued, "they are pouring into more personal pastimes.... The spectator is turning into the participant."
On the well-publicized list of heroes who seem likely to bring Pittsburgh its first pennant in 33 years, one
name is oddly absent. When the Pirates drafted Rocky Nelson from the minors two years ago, it barely caused a stir—except for an occasional snicker. Nelson, then 33, had previously failed in nine major league chances. But this year, when Dick Stuart went into a slump, Nelson took over a starting job at first base. He pushed
his batting average above .300, dug down for low throws with the suppleness of a youngster, poked out his chaw of tobacco at friend and umpire alike. "It's just what I've been saying all along," says Nelson, "nobody ever let me play regular before."
THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
Along the Campbell River, on Vancouver Island, B.C., the tyee salmon is known as the world's fightingest fish. Could be. Last week Dr. Millard Macavelia of Mount Vernon, Wash, hauled a 38-pound salmon into his boat. With one smash of his tail, the fish knocked the doctor's guide overboard. Dr. Macavelia leaned over the side to help and a second tailflip sent him into the water, too. The salmon then flipped the tackle overboard, the landing net settling securely over Dr. Macavelia's head.
In Michigan another fisherman was photographed with a 36� pound northern pike (supposedly a state record). He sent the picture to a Chicago newspaper, which duly published it. Whereupon the Michigan conservation department regretfully reported that its operators had inadvertently poisoned the fish some time before. The "fisherman" had filched the frozen corpus from a conservation icebox. Despite a somewhat stiff appearance, everyone agreed the pike took a nice picture.
Ben Kerner, the impulsive owner of the St. Louis Hawks who was turned down when he offered $200,000 for Minneapolis Laker Star Elgin Baylor, has bought the portable basketball floor the Lakers used before moving to Los Angeles. "If we can't get Baylor," said Kerner, "we'll take the floor he played on."