THE GREATEST MONTH
"There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir," wrote Poet Bliss Carman, and his words most surely apply to the sporting scene. Of all the months of the year, none can match October in richness and variety. For anglers and hunters and hikers, it is a time to rejoice afield. For more sedentary sorts, October means the World Series, pro football, college football, pro basketball and hockey. To keep up with the rush of events, last Saturday radio station WSYR in Syracuse, N.Y. broadcast the Syracuse- Penn State football game; No. 6 of the Series; the New York Knicks vs. the Chicago Bulls; and a hockey encounter between the Syracuse Blazers and the Maine Nordiques. In an individual effort to get the best of the October glut, a duck hunter, John Vargo of Verplanck, N.Y., who sometimes fishes from his blind, has thought of bringing along a transistor radio to tune in between bites and birds. A clever solution, perhaps, but the real answer, as far as we are concerned, would be to find some way to save one week in October to dole out in February.
MONEY TO PLAY WITH
Indianapolis will become the 14th member of the World Hockey Association next year. Big deal, you might say. Interesting deal is more like it. Indiana Pro Sports Management, Inc., a subsidiary of the company that owns the ABA Pacers, originally wanted a National Hockey League franchise and formally applied last year when ground was broken for a new downtown arena. After the franchises went to Washington, D.C. and Kansas City, Indy Pro Sports went after Charles Finley's California Seals. Charlie O., who lives in La Porte, was eager for the deal and planned to switch this year, when the NHL vetoed the operation in midsummer. With that, IPS turned to the WHA.
"There were a number of reasons," says Chuck DeVoe, president of the company. "Timing, economics and the ability for us to build a competitive club much more quickly than in the NHL. With our new arena opening in 1974, it was imperative that we have a hockey team by then. And frankly, the WHA seemed to be much more businesslike and aggressive than the NHL. There are significant differences in costs. The last franchises granted by the NHL went for $6 million. Our WHA franchise cost a little over $2 million. That gives us $4 million to go after hockey players. Obviously, we are going to sign the best players available regardless of where they are."
VOICES IN THE RIGGING
If you dig weird hallucinations, you don't need LSD to generate them. Just try sailing single-handed from Plymouth, England to Newport, R.I. That, at least, is the burden of an article in The Lancet, one of Britain's leading medical journals, analyzing the experiences of 34 competitors in the 1972 single-handed transatlantic yacht race sponsored by the London Observer. The yachtsmen ranged in age from 26 to 57 and in occupation from naval officer to bank manager, including a dentist, a croupier, a newspaper publisher and a bandleader. Since the single-handed sailor must be constantly alert to weather changes and other craft, most of the competitors allowed themselves only short snatches of sleep. Thus it did not take long for the combination of tension, loneliness and fatigue to begin conjuring up images.
"Eventually," said one, "there was no difference between sleeping and waking. You went about in a kind of 'sleep-wake.' " A multilingual Polish yachtsman solved the loneliness problem by carrying on conversations with himself in different languages. Another recorded in his log: "Usual voices in the rigging—calling 'Bill, Bill,' rather high pitched. Dreams of people and boats." Another man was lying in his bunk when he heard someone topside putting his 52-foot trimaran about on the opposite tack. As he headed up the passageway to investigate, a spectral sailor hustled past him. The boat had indeed come about and was on the correct course.
But not all the spooks were friendly. "For instance," says The Lancet, "a very weary sailor was close to the Belgian coast and saw two men on the shore beckoning him and pointing to the harbour entrance. He did not go in for some reason but anchored offshore. In the morning he woke after a long sleep to find only rocks along that stretch of coast." Shades of the Lorelei, British style.
Separated by more than half the continent, the University of Maryland basketball team and the Wyoming football team have one thing in common: use of dance to help reduce injury. It started last spring at Wyoming when All-Western Athletic Conference Cornerback Fritz Turner took ballet as a fun course. He became such a balletomane that other defensive backs started taking lessons under the direction of his teacher, Joy Deadrick. "After watching Fritz take ballet and seeing what it did for him, we decided to have everyone take it," says Defensive Backfield Coach Leon Burtnett. "To carry it one step further, we've gone completely to flexibility exercises instead of calisthenics. It's worked out well so far. We haven't had any pulled muscles, which is very unusual for a defensive secondary." Turner also finds ballet techniques most helpful in covering a receiver. "The biggest thing is to be able to come back to the ball when a receiver cuts," he says. "There's a technique called a turning, which means you spread your hips more or less, and that really helps you come back fast to the ball."