AT SIXES AND FIVES
One of the more interesting legal battles now involving sport is a suit brought against the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association by 15-year-old Victoria Ann Cape, a 5'10" basketball player, and her father, James Cape. No, Victoria is not trying to get the TSSAA to let her play on a boys' team or to keep a boy from playing on a girls' team. What she objects to is six-person basketball, the old-fashioned version of girls' basketball authorized in Tennessee's high schools.
Women's basketball in American colleges, in AAU competition and in the Olympic Games is now five to a side, like the men's game, and Tennessee is one of half a dozen states that retain the six-person game. It is a static form of basketball, in which the players are confined to offensive and defensive zones. Practically speaking, only the three players on each team assigned to offensive zones can shoot at the basket.
In federal court in Knoxville, Victoria argued that the six-person game limited her opportunities to develop her basketball skills and, by extension, her chances of winning an athletic scholarship to college. Witnesses defending the TSSAA position said six-person basketball was a perfectly good game. The Capes said if it was, why not change the boys' rules and let them play six to a side? Federal Judge Robert L. Taylor said last week that he would review the testimony before rendering a decision.
From goal line to goal line the football field at West Jefferson Junior High in Conifer, Colo. looks pretty much like other football fields: 100 yards long, 160 feet wide, lots of white lines at regular intervals, and so on. But beyond the goal lines the West Jefferson field takes on unique characteristics. The crossbar between the goalposts at the north end of the field is only 5� feet above the ground. The rules say it should be 10 feet high. The thing is, West Jefferson's field slopes sharply uphill past the goal line, and standard goalposts stuck in the ground on the hill would put the crossbar at a distressingly high altitude for aspiring place-kickers. So math teacher Rod Butler and some of his students took a transit level and figured out the proper height the crossbar should be in relation to the flat part of the playing field. The little squatty "H" is the result, and it works fine—the only worry being that an overambitious wide receiver zooming up the hill on a post pattern may find himself clotheslined by the crossbar.
The south end of the field is level. All a wide receiver has to worry about there are the rocks and trees in a patch of woods in front of the goalposts.