BLOCK THAT HEAD
The head and the face, those seemingly inoffensive parts of the body, are under attack in football. Dr. Joseph Torg of Temple University, an orthopedic surgeon, wants to ban the use of the head as a weapon. Torg, who operates in the morning, teaches in the afternoon and runs Temple's center for sports medicine when he has time, is upset by the current rash of football injuries.
"From injuries this year," he says, "we have in this vicinity six young men who are quadriplegic, one killed and one with multiple fractures of the cervical spine. This is reprehensible. Yet when something like this happens, it's slipped under the rug, forgotten. The people responsible for the conduct of the game have the collective mentality of a herd of field oxen."
Torg complains bitterly about the use of the head in blocking, tackling and running with the ball. "The head must be taken out of the game," he says. "If that problem can't be solved, then the game is unacceptable. God gave us heads for thinking, not to be used as instruments of war."
The face—or really, the face mask—is also accused, critics claiming that it causes worse injuries than it prevents. It protects the mouth, the jaw and the nose, but it may be responsible for fatal or debilitating damage to the wearer's own neck and spine. Says Dave Nelson, athletic director of the University of Delaware, "Dr. Richard Schneider of Michigan recommends taking off the face mask. He claims that when we have a fatality or an extremely serious injury, it may come from a blow hitting the face guard and hyperextending the neck. If we did not have the face mask, I don't think we would have that problem."
The occasion was a figure-skating spectacular at New York's Madison Square Garden last week called Superskates II, a gala show designed primarily to raise funds to send U.S. athletes to the Olympic Games. Great Britain sent national champion John Curry to appear, and the Soviet Union contributed two of its top skaters, Ludmilla Belousova and her husband Oleg Protopopov, four-time world pair champions and twice Olympic gold medalists. There was a brief flurry of concern when U.S. and Soviet red tape tangled up travel arrangements for the couple; their visas finally came through only three days before the Protopopovs were scheduled to leave Moscow. However, they got to New York in time and skated as though there was no such thing as jet lag. It was d�tente in full flower.
On the other hand, Canada, where anti-U.S. feelings are burgeoning, frostily refused to send any of its skating stars to an event designed expressly to help American athletes. Maybe a little d�tente with our next-door neighbors is in order.
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
Four convicts in a Sicilian prison kept themselves in shape by practicing the long jump, reports the Sunday Times of London. Prison guards beamed approvingly. The activity seemed to bolster morale and lessen complaining. Then the complaining came from officials. Because one day the four convicts, confident in their new-found skill, leaped a 12-foot gap between a roof inside the prison and a roof outside and blithely escaped.