Before the Red Guards began their upheaval, China's most popular sport was table tennis (more than 70 million table tennis balls were manufactured in 1965), and Chuang Tse-tung, world champion from 1961 through 1965 and since rumored dead or in jail (SI, May 5, 1969), has reemerged as a sports hero. He was the prize attraction a few months ago at a sports evening in Peking attended by 18,000 Chinese and 2,000 foreigners. If such renewed emphasis on sport means that China is going to return to international competition, its impact on sport will be considerable, and not just in table tennis. With a population of 700 million to draw on, the Chinese can become powers in track and field (Ni Chih-chin leaped 7'5�" in 1966, best high jump in the world that year), speed skating, soccer or almost anything else they choose to concentrate on.
SORRY ABOUT THIS
Three somewhat indigent British lords, unable to compete with a neighboring duke in the estate-touring business, pooled their resources and bought a lion. A publicity photo of the three owners standing behind their tourist attraction duly appeared in the newspapers, though, unhappily, the photo was not as clear as it might have been. "Is that you on the end there?" one of the three was asked by a friend. "No, no," he replied. "I'm the middle lion backer."
A Hovercraft, that interesting boat that rides not on water but just over it on a cushion of air, has had its versatility dramatically demonstrated. A 10-ton Hovercraft carrying 26 scientists, writers, photographers and crewmen from six different countries recently completed a 5,000-mile, 85-day journey up and down rivers and across lakes in 11 countries in west and central Africa. It zoomed over miles of previously impassable water, including the unnavigable Stanley Rapids of the Congo River, and went into remote areas where no Europeans had ever been The serious purpose of the trip was to explore Africa's rich potential, but it is hard not to let your mind drift to the past and wonder whether Stanley wouldn't have found Livingstone in a week if he had had a Hovercraft.
ONE FOR THE BETTORS
A provision of the new tax law no longer excludes gambling winnings from income averaging. This means that if a bettor wins big during one year, he now can average that exceptionally high income with other income over a five-year period. It does not mean that he can average losing years with winning ones, because in any given year gambling losses that exceed winnings are not deductible. It simply means that he can spread his winnings out to reduce the tax bite.
Some gamblers hold that losses should be deductible, but the Government does not agree, partly because food, rent, clothing and other such are not deductible and partly because checking out the validity of wagering losses could be a job of nightmarish proportions. Other gamblers concede that losses should not be deductible but argue that winnings should be tax-free. They say that legitimate gambling is under close state supervision and that a bet at the racetrack, for example, is taxed heavily to begin with.
Don't bet they win the argument.
The implication was made here a few weeks ago that the Western College Hockey Association was in danger of falling apart because the Big Ten schools within the association were thinking of forming their own league. But that gloomy prognostication apparently was ill-founded. What the Big Ten schools probably will form is their own division within the WCHA, while the rest of the league, Denver, Michigan Tech, North Dakota, Colorado College and the University of Minnesota at Duluth, will become another. Far from being left out in the cold, this latter group will comprise one of the strongest college hockey circuits in the country.
CHECK THAT SCORE
Odd scores keep popping up in sport, but seldom do you get a parlay like this: in the same week, late in January, Beaverton beat Burien 37-2 in an amateur hockey game in Oregon, while in high school basketball in Kansas, Jackson Heights defeated Dover 4-0. Sounds as though the goalies got on the wrong bus.
Pat Livingston of Pittsburgh takes umbrage at the comment (SI, Feb. 9) that " Pittsburgh has never seen the likes of Terry Bradshaw." Bradshaw is the superlative quarterback from Louisiana Tech whom the Steelers made their No. 1 pick in the pro football draft. Livingston makes the point that while the Steelers may not have fielded a quarterback like Bradshaw, they sure have seen the likes of him. Though, he hastens to add, the club has also shown a remarkable propensity for letting such brilliant prospects slip through its fingers. The Steelers in their time have had and given up on several championship quarterbacks—Sid Luckman, Frank Filchock, Tommy Thompson, Jack Kemp, Len Dawson, Earl Morrall, Bill Nelsen and Johnny Unitas, any one of whom might have helped bring Pittsburgh the NFL title it never won. Now Bradshaw (or Terry Hanratty, who as a rookie in 1969 led the Steelers in throwing touchdown passes even though he played less than four full games) may guide the club to an American Conference championship—unless the Steelers see another good trade in the offing.