Of all the football awards that sprout each season like dandelions after rain, those of the Washington Touchdown Club have established an unimpeachable reputation as the most dubious. Firm claim to this distinction was laid last year when the club in quick succession 1) chose Terry Baker as its Back of the Year, 2) discovered that Terry's basketball and studies would keep him from attending the presentation dinner, 3) gave the award to a player who could attend and 4) denied that it had chosen Baker. Now again, in one magnificent tripartite gesture, the Touchdowners have just about retired the Frank Lee Fickle Memorial Trophy. First, the Washingtonians, alone in the nation, picked nearby Navy as the country's No. 1 team—just before Texas routed the Middies in the Cotton Bowl. Second, they named Navy's Wayne Hardin Coach of the Year. Third, they telephoned Texas Coach Darrell Royal to tell him that Longhorn Tackle Scott Appleton had been chosen Lineman of the Year and was wanted at the club banquet.
When Royal told the club spokesman that Appleton would be at the Texas banquet that night, there was a lame pause at the other end of the line. "Well," the voice said weakly, "'in that case, who would you suggest we pick for Lineman of the Year?"
GAMES WORTH THE CANDLE
The biggest and fastest-growing participant sport in the U.S., according to The Athletic Institute, is volleyball, which had 20 million players in 1961, now has 60 million. That puts it a good 5 million ahead of cycling, which is next biggest.
Our candidate for the least-known sport of the past decade is smash, which has 10,000 players, the institute says. Smash looks like a cross between handball and ping-pong. It is played against multiangled walls and is sweetly exhausting. The players—one, two or four at a time—bang away at an overblown ping-pong ball and race madly around the court in pursuit of crazy rebounds. Among other virtues, it permits a lonely table-tennis fan to battle himself. Lawn-tennis players are especially partial to it because it offers such good practice in handling tricky, unexpected angle shots.
The newest accepted sport, just introduced in England but played in recent years on the Continent, has not yet reached these shores. It is curling without ice. Called roll curling, it is the invention of an enthusiastic Dutch curler, Johannes van der Eerde, who dreamed of playing all year round. A concrete engineer by profession, he produced a concrete that would make a smooth rink. Then he devised a curling stone with three large ball bearings on its underside. In winter the handle can be unscrewed from the top and screwed into the bottom so that the stone can be used on ice.
The very newest sport, it seems, is a variant of pool. It is played on an elliptical table with a single pocket, a cue ball, and nine balls in the rack. It is called Elliptipool. As explained by its inventor, Arthur P. Frigo Jr., a senior at Union College, the game's charm lies in the fact that the sum of distances from one focal point to the perimeter and back to the other focal point is always constant. It has one other charm that might help sales. The playing area is 52 inches by 57 inches—which is apartment size.
Dr. James B. Conant and Admiral Hyman G. Rickover may have doubts about sport's role in the American educational system, but Texas does not. Next September there will be a new high school in Garland, Texas. It is now being built. It has no student body. It has no principal. It has no teachers. What it has is a football coach.
HARK, A NEW BARK
One might assume that, since the American Kennel Club already recognizes 115 breeds of dogs, 24 of them sporting, we need no more. The last AKC acceptance took place in 1960, granted to something called a Hungarian Vizsla. But now the AKC is about to be assailed with demands for recognition of yet another. General Richard Mellon, who developed the new breed on his 20,000-acre plantation in the field trial country near Albany, Ga., calls it a Flint River retriever. It is a cross between a Labrador retriever and a cocker spaniel—which would seem to be an unlikely combination but has turned out a handsome, blue-coated dog of zest and competence.