Professional track uses pacing lights for the mile to excite fan interest, and now Ted Haydon, track coach at the University of Chicago, has developed a system to speed the usually spectatorless all-comers' meets he conducts on Sunday afternoons in the spring. He runs all the events at one time.
Well, not quite all the events. But most of the running events do occur simultaneously. Haydon lines the quarter-milers up on the track at the start of the turn, the half-milers about 50 yards back, the milers farther to the rear, with the three-milers at the head of the straightaway. Then he fires one gun and the runners start en masse. The fastest half-miler usually can't catch the slowest finishing quarter-miler and so on through the milers and three-milers. The runners finish one lap, three laps, or 11 laps later at the point where they started. The result is sort of an instant track meet.
Haydon got the idea several years ago on a cold, windy, rainy day when all the runners wanted their event to be first. "I ran them all together," Haydon recalls. "The runners didn't mind—in fact, they rather thought it was fun—and the officials got to go home earlier."
Still Haydon hasn't completely perfected the system yet. He is actually trying to figure out how to put a field of hurdlers and sprinters on the track at the same time.
If anyone doubts that television dominates college football scheduling, witness ABC's announcement that the Nebraska-Oklahoma game, traditionally played on Thanksgiving or the following Saturday, has been rescheduled this November for the Friday in between at Norman.
The day after Thanksgiving, the network reasons, is fast becoming an unofficial national holiday, and a lot of viewers will be available. That may be true on Madison Avenue, but back on Main Street folks still pay homage to the work ethic, as the Omaha World-Herald discovered in a survey. A spokesman for the Union Pacific, whose headquarters employs 7,000 in Omaha and nearby Council Bluffs, says: "We are drafting a statement. It will say no TVs in the office. Our people will be on the job." At Mutual of Omaha, an official said all 3,500 employees will work. At Northwestern Bell, with a work force of 4,500, it will be "business as usual." The same applies for the state of Nebraska's 22,000 employees, although Governor J. James Exon could come under pressure to declare a holiday for bureaucrats should the Cornhuskers go into the game undefeated.
No matter what, some fans, wherever they work, are sure to try to smuggle sets in on the job, and one of the few happy men in Omaha is Jim Skomal. He rents TVs. "I have 125 available," he says, beaming. "First come, first served."
If anyone doubts that Clifford Roberts, chairman of the Masters, dominates CBS-TV, he should have been on the grounds and behind the cameras at the most recent Augusta gala, especially when the rains came plunging down on Saturday. Who'd want to see a flooded golf course, Roberts' minions told CBS-TV. At Augusta, what Roberts decides, CBS does, and the network had no choice but to pass up the flood shots of raging Rae's Creek (SI, April 16) and instead showed viewers half an hour of aimless interviews, held high and dry indoors.