LITTLE LEAGUE AND BIG BUCK
Since shortly after its inception Little League baseball has been criticized as a game in which overly competitive adults drive small boys to tears and torment in order to satisfy their own egos. The charges have not been altogether unfounded, but neither are they altogether true. Many a boy and many a community have benefited from Little League play.
What is true is that the league is not just kids playing baseball for fun under adult supervision. It is a nonprofit operation, but it is also a corporation whose executives are salaried and thereby invested with a certain professional, as against amateur, interest in the sport.
This special interest is now illustrated by league officials' insistence that the country's 48,000 Little League teams be insured by a single company, American Casualty, a requirement that would seem to be inspired more by commercial than amateur motives. Last week in Iowa, Insurance Commissioner William E. Timmons declared the mandatory contract illegal and ordered it terminated. It cost more, he observed, than equivalent contracts available through local agents.
The response of Dr. Creighton J. Hale, national vice president of the league, was in keeping with the league's new mercantile look. No monopoly insurance, he said, "no more Little League baseball in Iowa." Which might be a good thing.
GOTTA HAVE HEART
Each year at the Thoroughbred sales, prospective buyers thoughtfully consider blood lines and conformation before deciding whether to bid on a particular yearling. But, as an occasional Carry Back proves, blood doesn't always tell. What the bidders should do, according to Dr. E. R. Trethewie, University of Melbourne physiologist, is give the horse an electrocardiogram. If he is to be another Man o' War, there on his chart will be a pattern that clearly tells the tale. And the same is true for human athletes capable of running a sub-4-minute mile.
Dr. Trethewie studied the hearts, lungs and other essentials of 10 4-minute milers. Common to all of them, he told the Australian Sports Medicine Association, "is the peculiar nature of their innervation." Innervation is the nervous stimulation of an organ, in this case the heart. In athletes like Roger Bannister and Kelso, the heart is innervated so as to make its contractions go progressively upward. Only 15% of so-called normal ECGs show the pattern that Dr. Trethewie found in 100% of his 4-minute milers. And, over a period of eight years spent studying the hearts of schoolchildren, he found that possession of the trait frequently goes with athletic prowess. Good lungs and high hemoglobin value help, too, but the heart is the most important factor.
Perhaps the Daily Racing Form and The Morning Telegraph should throw away their complicated past performance charts and print just the ECGs of the entries.