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The NHL reacted angrily to the Sobchuk signing. For years it has had an agreement with the Canadian amateur leagues that it would not draft underage juniors, those who had not reached their 20th birthday. Sobchuk is only 19. And the WHA earlier signed Gordie Howe's two teen-age sons, Marty and Mark, and 18-year-old Tom Edur, an outstanding defenseman. WHA President Gary Davidson said his league had no obligation not to sign a player before his 20th birthday. "Underage junior is NHL terminology," he said.
"If they want to kill junior hockey," said NHL President Clarence Campbell, "the sky will be the limit for us, too. We'll reach down and take the cream of the crop when they're only 17 or 18. We don't want to, but we can't let things go on this way."
A GLUTTON FOR PATRIOTISM
The Japanese have long been big on such Western sports as baseball, golf, bowling and even horse racing (for the past couple of years they have been top bidders at thoroughbred sales in the U.S. and Britain), but now they may have gone one step too far toward sports insanity: they have taken up baton twirling.
Five baton twirlers from Purdue were invited to Japan to give clinics and demonstrations of their art in preparation for Japan's first international baton-twirling festival in 1974. Professor Al G. Wright, director of Purdue's marching band and a director of the Japan Band Association, says, " Japan is going big in twirling. The bands started about 10 years ago, and the twirling about five years ago. They're going in a different direction from us. They're going for mass twirling. We go solo, because we're a nation of individuals. The Japanese like to be regimented. They'll put 2,000 twirlers in a routine."
"They won't ever go big on football," Wright says. "They can't stand the physical strain. Their twirlers and bands appear at baseball games. The bands don't march, they sit in the stands. But they send hordes of twirlers on the field to do routines to band music."
Wright believes the Japanese will become very good twirlers because, he says, "They have a great deal of finger and arm dexterity. But if it comes to an international showdown, I think we'll continue to dominate."
OH, SAY, CAN YOU SEE?