HARD AS NAILS
Nate Thurmond, the 6'11" center who had more than 14,000 points and 14,000 rebounds in his 14 years in the NBA, has just opened a manicure and pedicure salon in Beachwood, Ohio.
What with all the criticism about the quality of NFL officiating this season, Will McDonough of the Boston Globe makes these interesting observations:
The NFL had the fourth-, fifth-, sixth-and seventh-best referees working the opening round of playoff games. Where were 1, 2, 3? Sitting at home watching on TV.
The NFL system of assigning officials goes like this. During the regular season, officials are graded weekly. In the postseason, the top officials—referee, umpire, head linesman, line judge, back judge and field judge—get to work the Super Bowl. The officials rated second and third best get the conference championship games. The next four down the line work the opening playoff round. Thus in the opening round, the seventh-best referee (and umpire, head linesman, et al.)—out of the 15 in the league—officiates a playoff game. Inasmuch as all the crews that worked together during the season are broken up, most of the officials involved in a playoff game have not worked together before. It also means that the officials slated for the Super Bowl will have gone a month without working.
A better system would have the top four crews work the opening rounds, the two top crews the conference championships, and the top crew the Super Bowl.
How many basketball games have you been to where the crowd was so loud that the timekeeper didn't hear a referee whistle for a time-out? Clock hassles like that are unlikely to occur now, thanks to a new device known as the "Whistle-Stop Timer," which sells for $750. Invented by Tee Haithcock, Max Garrison and Clint Westbrook of Charlotte, N.C., the Whistle-Stop Timer consists of a receiving unit, which is attached to the scoreboard clock, and sending units, each about the size of a pack of cigarettes, which are worn by the referees. When one of the refs blows his whistle, which is wired to the sending unit, the clock stops, and it does not start until the ref presses a button on his unit.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has tested the timer in games and approved its use for next season. "Everybody's happy with it," says Commissioner Bob James. Besides ensuring that the clock stops immediately when the ref blows his whistle, which can be crucial toward the end of a game, the timer actually adds to the playing time. "The referees blow their whistles between 75 and 125 times a game," says Haithcock, "and if you save half a second each time, that can add up to almost a full minute during a game."
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
Do sports stars really use the products they endorse? Columnist George McEvoy of the Fort Lauderdale News recalls the time he ran into Dizzy Dean in a bar in Phoenix. He asked Dean if he really ate Wheaties, and Dizzy assured him that he did, every morning. "Podner," said Dean, "a big bowl of Wheaties and bourbon can't be beat."