But here as elsewhere, inflation is taking its toll. "You are only going to make enough to keep you through the winter," complains one prominent trackman. He also notes that the business is fraught with uncertainty. "After a meet in Italy," he said, "the promoter turned up at 3 a.m., just when I was beginning to wonder whether he skipped with the loot. He was carrying this socking-great suitcase full of these dirty great notes. They were lire. I changed them fast, man—into something more stable."
BLOCK THAT INNOVATION
As though the designated hitter and the three-point basket didn't shake up the traditionalists enough, here comes the World Football League with (are you ready?) the one-point field goal. As an experiment during its current exhibition season, the league has decreed that field goals kicked from inside the 10-yard line count one point while those kicked from 10 to 30 yards away are worth two. Only three-pointers from beyond the 30-yard line are, well, three-pointers.
By devaluing easy close-in field goals, the WFL hopes to encourage teams to open up their offenses and go for touchdowns. And, indeed, no one-point field goals were even attempted in the league's first four exhibition games—just two- and three-pointers. The only trouble is that the scheme might, in some cases, actually discourage forward progress. For example, with the ball on the opponent's 20-yard line, a team would normally be facing a field-goal attempt from the 27, but this would be good for only two points under the WFL rule. So why not let yourself be thrown for a four-yard loss and go for three?
The WFL's otherwise disastrous first season yielded some worthwhile innovations, notably replacing the extra-point kick with a pass or run "action point." However, it is easy to imagine the latest scheme leading, ultimately, to something like this: a one-yard touchdown plunge counting four points, a 70-yard scoring pass worth 11, a 100-yard kickoff return good for 15. It is even easier to imagine the WFL's experiment quietly dying with the last exhibition game.
Calvin Murphy, at 5'9" the smallest player in the NBA, recently returned from a visit to Japan, where he spent a lot of time shopping for clothes. "Most of their clothes didn't fit me," the Houston Rocket star relates. "Their large size is a small in the States. I couldn't buy many things." But the trip enhanced Murphy's ego, if not his wardrobe. "I felt good over there," he confesses. "I felt very large."