ARMS AND THE GAME
College football traditionally evokes images of lovely autumn afternoons, falling leaves, pretty girl cheerleaders, bands, excitement, a good time. Now fear has become part of the mixture. A staff member on another assignment attended the Nebraska-Army game and came away with this reaction: "It had been a year since I'd seen a college game, and the change was chilling. Here I was in grass-roots America, Lincoln, Neb., and there were two police helicopters almost constantly circling the stadium. City policemen, highway patrolmen and sheriff's deputies were evident everywhere, both in the stands and down on the field around the AstroTurf. They were not at all the relaxed policemen you see lounging in seats at Shea Stadium, but men whose eyes moved constantly, alert for trouble and afraid of it. I asked a college administrator if the precautions were because Nebraska was playing the Military Academy. He said, 'No. We took the same precautions for Wake Forest, and they will be in effect at every game we play at home this year. We don't want to be caught with our pants down.'
"Among the precautions are: 1) the use of two shifts of Lincoln police, one for traffic and one in the stadium. When the traffic detail is finished it is brought to the stadium to beef up security. 2) Elaborate plans to deal with bomb threats and demonstrations. The university will not reveal details, but a school publicity man called a 'bomb briefing' to tell the press that plans were in force. 3) Guarding the AstroTurf night and day, with added men put on duty 24 hours before a game. Lights are left on, and there is campus talk that dogs are used. 4) Watching pep rallies. The Army game rally mustered only 200 students on Friday night, but was accompanied by three squad cars with flashing lights and four policemen in enclosed motorcycles. I asked a public-relations man why all the police? He said they were guarding the students. It occurred to me that perhaps the place where police force is most evident these days is at football games."
The Seven Eagles restaurant near Chicago, unhappy with the Second City's second baseball team, is offering a new drink to its customers. It's called the White Sox Cocktail because, the proprietors claim, it's a steady cellar.
A football fan named Bill Pryce won an Ask the Coach contest run by The San Diego Union by asking why football doesn't have a rule requiring a player who incurs a penalty to identify himself by raising his arm, as in basketball. "This would let fans know who the guilty party is," argued Pryce, "and it might help to reduce the number of penalties, far too large now."
Coach Charlie Waller of the San Diego Chargers commented, "I think it's a good idea. I'm constantly trying to find out who committed the foul, too. When it's something like pass interference you know who the offender is, but when the foul is in the interior line you never know who is guilty."
The Boston Marathon, up to now a prestige event for impulsive, spur-of-the-moment athletes as well as for the finest distance runners in the world, is changing its complexion. Until last year, anybody could enter the marathon just as long as he passed the physical examination and was not a woman (which did not stop some ladies from running anyway, as unofficial participants). In the past decade the entry list grew wildly, year by year; last April, despite the introduction of some restrictions, there were more than a thousand starters. It was simply too much to cope with, argue harried Boston officials, who now will approve an entry only if the would-be contestant meets these requirements: 1) he must have run an AAU-sanctioned marathon in 3� hours or better at some point in his career; or 2) during the past year he must have completed a 10-mile race within 65 minutes, a 15-mile race within 1� hours or a 20-mile race within 2� hours.
It is all very logical and sensible, and one hesitates to criticize the people who, after all, have the annual problem of coping with the hordes of one-day-a-year athletes. But seeing the Boston Marathon change from an exuberant extravaganza into just another athletic event is somehow depressing.