Over the years it has been the custom for basketball teams visiting Notre Dame to devise a whole set of hand signals because the cacophony in the 70-year-old Irish field house makes audibles impossible. The shrieking generally starts 10 minutes before game time and just goes on and on. The effect is very like that of someone playing train-wreck stereos in a clothes closet. Perhaps officials have not been intimidated as much as opponents have suggested, but in one stretch (December 1943-February 1948) the screaming Irish won 38 straight games on the home floor and in recent years have won almost 80% of their games at the friendly field house.
The era is now past. New Coach Johnny Dee has decreed: "We all know that there's something wrong everywhere with the home court advantage in basketball. All the coaches complain, but nobody wants to do anything. Well, I'm going to do something this year because this court at Notre Dame has been one of the worst offenders."
Dee has ordered pennants of all Big Ten schools and all opponents hung around the field house. Visiting coaches will be asked to bring their squads to the campus early enough to have lunch with the Notre Dame team. Key chains, engraved with the date and the name of each opponent, will be presented to visiting players by Notre Dame players.
"And if the crowds don't behave," says Dee, "I'll pull my team off the floor and forfeit the game."
He seems to mean it, too.
THE ILLEGAL EAGLE
When an Indian medicine man needs eagle feathers for a religious ceremony nowadays he does not send out a hunting party to bring down a few birds (it's illegal to kill an eagle). Instead he sends an application to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque.
The Service examines eagles for diseases and pesticide residues. Feathers are saved and shipped to Albuquerque from where they are distributed for religious purposes only. Show-biz-type Indians who want the plumage to perform for tourists are screened out. War bonnets are out, too.
There is a shortage of high-priority feathers. Indian medicine men know what they want and they usually specify "those pretty black-and-white tail feathers." But these must be rationed, since they are found only on the immature golden eagle. They turn brown with grayish blotches after the bird's fourth birthday.
The Service also receives requests from palefaces. One came from an enterprising New York feather merchant, who presumably supplies dyed turkey feathers to theatrical costumers. He is not eligible for eagle feathers and did not ask for any; what he wanted was a list of the Service's rejected applicants.