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August 08, 1966
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August 08, 1966


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When spearfishing became popular 15 years ago, alarmed hook-and-line fishermen could be heard from here to the Grand Bank. Their fear was that skin divers—who could, for example, casually swim up to a big grouper and skewer it at point-blank range—would shortly deplete the inshore fish population. Indeed, as a result of the uproar, spearfishing was banned in parts of the Florida Keys.

The California Department of Fish and Game has now published the results of a four-year study that indicates skin divers have an almost insignificant effect upon marine life compared with the impact of rod-and-reel fishermen. Spear-fishermen catch .6 fish per hour. Surf casters, as members of that infinitely stoic society might well have surmised, are the only ones who do worse: they beach .5 fish an hour. Pier fishermen do exactly as well (or as badly) as skin divers. Anglers in skiffs catch one fish an hour and party-boat fishermen haul in 1.4 fish per hour. Moreover, only 2.8% of the total man-hours spent fishing in California waters are represented by the activities of spear fishermen, and they take only .7% of the fish caught.

However, that's in the cold, murky, kelpy depths off California. There still may be a good case for prohibiting spearfishing in the Keys: there are fewer pounds of fish per cubic foot of ocean off Florida, and in the clear, shallow, tropical water they are easier to catch. In fact, skin divers can spook or wipe out the population of a reef as fast as you can say save our national resources.


Last week we related how Vic Seixas, 42, played a 66-game set of tennis one day and, presumably all tuckered out, lost to Clark Graebner, 22, the next; how James Van Alen, inventor of the Van Alen Simplified Scoring System (VASSS), proclaimed this an inequity that never would have happened under VASSS; how he further asserted that Seixas undoubtedly would have preferred to play under VASSS; and how Seixas disagreed and stood up for the game's old, inequitable verities.

This week, somewhat nettled by Seixas' reply, Van Alen has been moved to compose a cautionary verse, which we herewith reprint:

"Though you're old, Father Victor,"
the young man said,
"For your age you just couldn't
be stronger.
But if you keep playing
those marathon sets,
It's a cinch you won't be here
much longer.
You will end in a wheel chair
or, worse, in a hearse
In a box with a tightly nailed
So don't be an ass,
score your tennis with VASSS.
And you'll play till you're 80
or over."


Casey Stengel and Ted Williams were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. last week. Stengel is beloved; Williams is admired.

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