Two areas of the economy where the recession has had surprisingly little effect are boating and tennis. According to figures released by their industry associations, they have had remarkable years.
Tennis, of course, has been in a swinging boom for the past several years. Recently Pollster Louis Harris reported a dramatic rise in the number of people who "followed" the game. The National Sporting Goods Association has figures to show the rise may be even sharper among the people who play it. Equipment manufacturers say they probably will gross more than $366 million this year, a 30% increase over 1973. About $225 million worth of rackets and balls will be sold.
More surprising, perhaps, are the boating figures. Despite the fuel scare, the '73-'74 model year ended Aug. 31 with sales just 3% off last year's record $2 billion-plus. Powerboats were down only slightly, but sailboats, up to 135,000 sales from 120,000, canoes (76,000 vs. 68,000) and rowboats (155,000 vs. 145,000) took up a lot of the slack. People seem determined to spend this recession out of doors.
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
"We got a few too many louts this year," said co-organizer Lew Cady nervously. "Some people seem to think this is a grossness contest instead of serious competition."
It is hard to see why. One woman judge of the Fourth—and hopefully last—Annual Spittin", Belchin' and Cussin' Triathlon in Central City, Colo. was hit by a half-full can of beer, several contestants violated the no-moon rule with graceless full flashes, Earl (The Squirrel) Worming unleashed a near-record-breaking expectoration of 33'3" and Chris Gossett, overall winner, knocked them dead in the belchin' competition.
"This is a beer-drinking town, and we know belches," explained Gladys Johnson of Johnson's Smorgasbord and Gold Coin Bar, as though she had to. Gossett's "Wounded Whale" was acclaimed a triumph, eclipsing a "Drunken Buffalo" and a "Roaring Platypus."
Probably the one decent idea of the evening at the Belvedere Theatre was Gossett's prize in the cussin' contest. For a somewhat irreverent soliloquy by a salacious Santa Claus puppet he won a case of Ivory soap—to wash his mouth out.
Come to think of it, Lew, the louts have something there.