SI Vault
November 10, 1969
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November 10, 1969


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For the past four seasons it has been possible to subscribe, for $50 a week, to something called the Pro Football Computer Forecast, which is based in Chicago. The idea is that a scientific fellow in a white coat feeds relevant information into a computer, which then goes clickety-clack for a while and finally regurgitates the information in the form of a sheet of paper spelling out how, taking into consideration the point spread set by bookmakers, you might come out with a fistful of weekend winners.

It sounded great to a friend of ours, and he subscribed to the service at the start of the season. Totting up the results of the past five weeks, he now finds that the computer has come up with six wins and eight losses, keeping the all-important point spread in mind. Two weeks ago was disastrous: one win, four losses.

The computer gnomes are understandably disturbed, but not enough to quit computing and collecting $50 a computation. Rather, in a spirit of dedication, the operators of the Pro Football Computer Forecast are forging sternly ahead.

"The reasons for the erratic behavior [of the teams] are hard to pinpoint," they advise their clients, "but regardless of the reasons we now feel that we must combat this rash of rapidly developing turnaround. As a result we are increasing the Alpha factor in our exponential smoothing function until the teams settle down to more steady performances."

And you should feed the computer a little more smoothing, soothing banana oil, too.


Basketball courts, indoors anyway, are generally made of wood flooring, and so the natural color of wood—maple or beech—is what you see now on your color-TV set. It is not spectacular enough for TV people, though; and Ed Forsythe, a Boulder, Colo. inventor who is a consultant to the DiNatale Floors, Inc. of Boston, a principal builder of portable basketball courts, has come up with what he thinks is the answer. One court he has designed would be the same color as AstroTurf inside the boundary lines, with parts adjacent to the lines in red. Red would be used also in the center jump circle and within the free throw areas. Another of his designs is what he calls "the patriotic court." Red, white and blue, naturally.

What he is proudest of, however, are new portable courts that can be put down in less than an hour as compared to the 2� to four hours now standard. They have already had acceptance at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, the Arizona Coliseum in Phoenix and arenas in Greensboro, N.C., Richmond and Hampton Roads, Va. It is theoretically possible, says Forsythe, for two men to assemble one of his courts in 36 minutes, quite an advantage in those arenas where there might be a hockey game in the afternoon and a basketball game that night.


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