No matter who the jumper, no matter where the pit, no matter what the weather, there is one constant in every long jump, and that is the foul line, or the "scratch line," the thin strip along the takeoff board that has bedeviled jumpers throughout its existence.
At one time there was a need for such a line as an aid in measuring the jump and as a measure of standardization. But is it truly fair to those who don't "have their steps down" and jump before they reach the line, stagger their runs in order to reach the line or cross the line for a foul? Of course it isn't. This psychological dependence we have built up around a standard foul line is nothing more than a crutch for clipboard-wielding officials.
Rather than have a scratch line, why not have jumpers rub some talc-like nonslip substance on the bottoms of their shoes that would be picked up by a special track surface in the last 20 feet or so of the runway? The officials, clipboards and all, could then measure from the tip of the last talc mark to the rearmost imprint in the sandpit to ascertain the length of the jump.
This no-scratch system would undoubtedly be a boon to the jumpers and greatly increase the distances of their jumps.
If the IAAF outlaws the somersault in the long jump, it will be losing potential fans. The only real highlight I can recall in the otherwise dark history of this event is Bob Beamon's spectacular 29'2�" jump at Mexico City. Outside of the triple jump, the long jump is the least-noticed track event.
ON THE FLY
I was pleased to discover that someone has brought to light the circumstances of Fly Williams and his future (Where Can the Fly Land? July 29). I have been a fan of the Fly ever since I saw him perform in the 1973 Mideast Regionals. This is just another case in which a talented ghetto athlete has gotten shafted by the recruiters. I can only hope that this is not a fatal swatting of the Fly.
There is no doubt in my mind that some pro team will pick up Fly Williams. He not only will make it in the pros, he will be one of the best.
I enjoyed your informative article on the Superdome in New Orleans (The Louisiana Purchase, July 22) and, as an interested citizen, eagerly look forward to the opening of this great facility. The Dome will stimulate the economy of the entire area and will provide thousands of sport fans with the finest facility in the United States for watching a great variety of athletic contests.
The prime movers you mentioned in your article deserve a portion of credit for the realization of this dream, but you overlooked the man most responsible for the financing of the Superdome. I am referring to James H. Jones, chairman of the board of the First National Bank of Commerce, New Orleans, who pushed and pleaded and pushed again to see this idea become steel and mortar. Some people report that Mr. Jones' success was in some way related to "luck" due to the timing of the bond issue, which his bank had underwritten, but I am sure Mr. Jones would agree with me and Coach Darrell Royal, who once said, "Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity." Mr. Jones was prepared, and he created the opportunity.
Merchants National Bank
In response to J. D. Reed's wonderings about the existence of "some prime loony" who may still want to watch a football game "the old way, wrapped in the car blanket in a brick stadium with a Thanksgiving blizzard blowing in his teeth," I must be that "loony." If the Superdome is the future, I prefer to stay in the Dark Ages.