Ever since Jimmy Connors earned tennis' top ranking, he has found it convenient to take "sick" whenever it suits his fancy, and too often tournament directors have kowtowed to him. At Forest Hills, for example, he was permitted to have a day's extra rest to recover before the tournament began. Then in December, his tooth problems, which were real enough, became near fatal just before the Grand Prix final, which he wanted to avoid.
Two weeks ago at a tournament in Florida, both Connors and his buddy Ilie Nastase were stricken at the same time, conveniently for Connors on a day when old flame Chris Evert dropped by to socialize. The schedule was hastily changed to let Sir James recuperate. Last week at a tournament in Ridgefield, Conn., a veritable epidemic swept through town—perhaps the other players saw what being sick could do for them. Without any warning, Connors and Nastase turned wan and feeble, and were joined in their death throes by Vitas Gerulaitis.
It is possible, though not probable, that for the players at the top, exhibitions and heavyweight bouts of the sort that will pit Connors against John Newcombe in Las Vegas on April 26 are the wave of the future. However, this does not free them from their present commitments. Ticket buyers and sponsors on the Independent Players Association tour are getting as ill as the phainting phantoms, with better reason.
AW, COME ON GUYS
After studying tapes of the Super Bowl telecast, Communications Professor Dr. Michael Real of the University of California at San Diego announced that about 3% of the four-hour show covered actual play, 39% commentary and entertainment, 22% game commentary, 21% pre- and post-game coverage and 15% commercials. He added, in the arcane way that got to Pittsburgh's Joe Greene (S.I., Feb. 17): "In the classical manner of mythical beliefs and ritual activities, the Super Bowl is a communal celebration of an indoctrination into specific specially dominant emotions, life styles and values."
We are not sure what that means, but Dr. Real is a model of brevity and incisiveness next to a French gym teacher, Jean-Marie Brohm, dug up by the London Sunday Times. Said J-M: "Sport is an armoured apparatus for coercion, an instrument of bourgeois hegemony in the Gramscian sense dominated by a phallocratic and fascistoid ideology of virility. It is mechanization of the body conceived as a robot ruled by the principle of productivity!"
UPDATE ON GOD'S LITTLE ACRE
Those intrepid agronomists from Purdue who reinvented grass (SCORECARD, July 22, 1974) are back after a season of watching it grow on the floor of Ross-Ade Stadium. Their report is sanguine. To refresh your memories, Professor William H. Daniel and Mel Robey, superintendent of athletic facilities, have a system for growing grass that they call PAT (for Prescription Athletic Turf). It employs a plastic sheet, drainage pipes, suction pumps, sand, an electric heating blanket and Warren's A-20 bluegrass, and it is their answer to the artificial rug.
This past fall the PAT of Purdue survived eight football games, long practices and a 350-member All American Marching Band without visible wear. Despite heavy downpours that ended shortly before two of the games, the field was dry, the footing firm. Never were more than three or four divots dug out of the turf.