Minibikes are dangerous, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It estimates that more than 1.5 million of the popular little machines—which are sort of mini-motorcycles powered by engines of the lawnmower type—will be in use this year, almost all of them operated by youngsters between 10 and 14. Riding a bike in a nontraffic area under parental supervision can be safe, the agency grants, but adds that it becomes "a high-risk vehicle on sidewalks and roadways. Minibikes are noted for poor handling characteristics because of their short wheelbase and small tires." They lack the acceleration needed in traffic and are difficult for automobile drivers to see because of their small size. Yet they are capable of speeds of 25 to 45 mph.
Children's Supermarts, Inc., the largest retail toy-store chain in the District of Columbia metropolitan area, refuses to carry minibikes. A company official said the decision not to stock the bikes was made after an employee riding a minibike in a store parking lot was unable to brake in time to avoid hitting a telephone pole. He was knocked unconscious and hospitalized.
Jim Bouton, the pitcher-author, is lucky he is neither British nor a poet. American critics, with the exception of people like Bowie Kuhn and Sportswriter Dick Young, were generally kind in their comments on Bouton's prose. British critics, on the other hand, were uncomfortably direct in their reaction to the published work of John Snow, a British counterpart of Bouton who is also a pitcher—more precisely, a cricket bowler—and a published writer. But Snow writes poetry with lines like,
"What if eternal darkness slapped your face/ Or a noseless man touched your hand,/Would the puking rise/ From where it lies,/Would you feel small/A part of the damned?" Alan Ross, poet, critic and onetime cricketer himself, said of Snow's verse: 'These 15 or so doodles are limp in rhythm, trite in sentiment, and weak in grammar and just about everything else." For good measure, Ross also had an unkind word about the poet as cricket player, implying that the fast-balling Snow (who has a habit of throwing dusters, called bumpers in Britain) dogs it in relatively unimportant county matches, whereas he is always gung-ho when he plays for England in international competition.
Like Bouton, Snow reacted to the criticism mildly but pointedly (Bouton used a Dick Young phrase as the title of his second book). Snow said he really did not mind if his poetry was disliked and then added that he had not known Ross wrote poetry, too. After sampling a bit of his critic's work the bowler put it down with, "Not bad. But it's not very lively, is it?" He had nothing to say about Ross' cricket playing.
Football coaches seem more concerned with long hair than almost anybody else, and when Lee Corso, the University of Louisville coach, was on a radio call-in show the other day, inevitably one of the callers asked him about his players' long hair. Corso replied that he paid little attention to it as long as they produced on the field. For example, John Madeya, an All-America candidate, has collar-length hair and a Gay '90s mustache. Kicker Scott Marcus has his hair in what he calls a Jewish Afro.
As the hair discussion ended, another call came for Corso, this one from his 10-year-old son David, who was listening at home. "Daddy," said David, "if you let your players wear their hair as long as they want, why won't you let me?"
The usually talkative Corso was stumped. Finally, he said, "You're not old enough to decide that yet, son." And then, after a menacing pause, he added, "Just wait till I get home."