SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
November 03, 1975
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November 03, 1975


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And so it ended, quietly, in midseason, with hardly enough of an impact to make headlines. Indeed, the biggest news about the end of the World Football League concerned not the WFL itself but the disposition of the handful of good players it had. Would Csonka, Kiick and Warfield return to Miami? (The possibility that the mellifluous trio might be split up—with Csonka here, Kiick there and Warfield somewhere else—was seldom discussed.) What about Anthony Davis, who was drafted last year by the New York Jets? Where would Willie Spencer go? A homegrown WFL star who did not go to college, Spencer has never been drafted by a National Football League team and as a free agent would get an impressive bonus for signing.

But, apparently fearing litigation with WFL owners who still claim contractual control over their players, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle decreed that no WFL player could join the NFL this season. The ruling was made primarily to avoid trouble with John Bassett, the wealthy owner of the WFL's Memphis club, who had lured Csonka, etc., away from the NFL and who made it clear that he felt they still belonged to him.

Rozelle could have difficulty with Bassett on another front, since the Memphis owner has made noises about applying for membership in the NFL. Rozelle doesn't think much of that idea, but Bassett can argue that he is eminently qualified, since he has: 1) the money; 2) a club; 3) a complete roster of players as good as and probably better than any NFL expansion team is likely to come up with; 4) a city; 5) a stadium; and 6) no league to play in. Because the NFL has a monopoly on pro football, where else can Bassett do business?

And despite Rozelle's ukase, the NFL could have legal problems anyway with individual players who feel they are free of contractual obligations. If one of them—a talented one, say, like Spencer—is arbitrarily denied the right to sign with the NFL, he might seek legal recourse. "They're denying me a chance to earn my living at my trade," he might claim.

It begins to look as if the WFL could cause the NFL more trouble now than it did when it was alive. Like a freshly killed shark, its future is nil, but it can give you a nasty bite if you're not careful.

Joni Huntley, the American women's champion and record holder in the high jump, indoors and out, went to a high school in Sheridan, Ore. that did not have a track. Inspired, one assumes, by its heroine's exploits, the local school board finally got around to building one this year. At the first meet 40 kids showed up to compete. And 32 of them entered the high jump.


A few years ago a chemist and a physicist in California found themselves fascinated by an article on the aerodynamics of golf balls in an old science magazine. As most golfers suspect (and a few know), the dimples on the standard golf ball are there for a reason, not just for decoration. They create minute turbulences that cause drag but also provide aerodynamic lift. A smooth ball has less drag but develops negative lift.

The Californians, chemist Daniel Nepela and physicist Fred Holmstrom, figured they could design a ball with the best features of both laminar (smooth) and turbulent (dimpled) surfaces. They filled in some of the dimples and left others the way they found them, and after quite a bit of experimentation produced a ball with a wide "equator" of dimples and smooth areas at the "poles." This combination, they say, produces an aerodynamic effect that combines smoothness with turbulence to give you the best of both possible worlds. What their ball does is wiggle imperceptibly from side to side, correcting itself, so to speak, whenever it starts to go off line. The result is a remarkably straight flight, with great resistance to what we know all too well as hooking and slicing.

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