Traditional in the annals of Nevada history is the annual badger vs. dog fight—and just as traditional is the outcry its announcement produces. This year the uproar has been more tumultuous than ever. The Salt Lake City Tribune thundered: "Whatever happened to the Nevada Humane Society?" A reader protested to the Ely Daily Times that the event was "sadistic, shameful and a blot, not only on the good name of Ely [where the fight was to be held], but on all humanity as well."
So far the fight has been postponed several times but, you may be sure, it will go on. It always has. Reports have it that a 50-pound badger has been caught and dieted and teased into a state of red-eyed meanness. His opponent, the pit dog, is described as well-trained, strong and vicious. Odds favor the badger 8 to 5, mostly because he fights by flipping over on his back and using his long sharp claws and needlelike teeth. But this particular dog is said to have perfected a method of turning the badger right side up and grabbing him by the base of the skull in a hold which, a news dispatch reports, "could end the bout in short order by severing the head from the body."
The fight has not been without defenders, among them Reno's Nevada State Journal: "It is a shame that Nevada residents who are unfamiliar with the state's mores would go to the extent of protesting badger fighting, which has been recognized as a time-honored diversion at numerous important functions since early days."
The fight itself goes like this: a dog is held tightly on a leash as a big barrel is brought in. A volunteer is told that inside the barrel, which has its lid on, is the vicious badger. A heavy cord hangs out of the barrel top. The volunteer's duty is to yank the top out of the barrel and he is warned earnestly to run away fast, holding the cord, lest the badger mistake him for the dog. He takes firm hold, yanks and runs. Out of the barrel clatters behind him an old fashioned thunder mug.
It fools them every year.
SVENGALI IN THE TANK
Back in the late '30s Melio Bettina achieved New York State recognition as light heavyweight champion of the world, and not a little of the credit went to his manager, Jimmy Grippo, who hypnotized Melio before each bout. Before the second Sonny Liston-Floyd Patterson bout a hypnotist offered himself to the Patterson camp but was rejected. (So Liston put Patterson to sleep.)
The use of hypnosis in sport crops up sporadically. Now it has reared its somnolent head in Hinsdale, Ill., home of the state high school swimming champions, whose coach, Jerry Farmer, has employed a hypnotist to improve the performance of some of his charges. Hypnotism can instill self-confidence, ward off fatigue and relax an athlete, Farmer believes. Here is what the American Medical Association's Committee on the Medical Aspects of Sports believes:
1) Hypnotism in sport "can result in serious psychiatric disturbances requiring treatment in a hospital."
2) It can cause "panic reactions, depressive states, or psychotic symptoms."