"That model is fine for East Germany and for Poland. But is it fine for the United States? My opinion is no. Our model is to develop kids to be fine athletes and to prepare them to be contributing citizens."
Every time Nelson Burton, the hard-hitting left wing for Hershey of the American Hockey League, came on the ice or acted threateningly toward a Springfield player, a bunch of fans in Hershey Park Arena cheered wildly and waved signs. When Burton was sent to the penalty box for fighting, they went bananas. Burton did not know who the fans were, but then they sent him a note, explaining that they were Juniata College students taking a course in behavioral analysis and had chosen to cheer for him as part of an experiment.
"We didn't know that much about the Hershey players, so we selected one at random and it was Nelson Burton," says Professor Charles Wise. "What we were trying to do was influence his performance on the ice, trying to urge him on to possibly perform better than he might otherwise. We were hoping to get some kind of a reaction. We weren't trying to encourage him to get into a brawl, but I have to admit it certainly excited the class when he did."
Burton isn't the first athlete to have attracted the attention of the class. Wise once took his students to a Pittsburgh Pirate doubleheader where they started cheering like crazy for Rightfielder Dave Parker. "It became contagious," says Wise, "and after a while just about everybody sitting along the first-base side was cheering Parker. We couldn't conclude that what we did had any effect, but Parker was the batting and defensive star of both games that day. It made the class feel pretty good."
The striped bass, the glamour inshore gamefish of the East Coast and a valuable commercial species, has been taking its lumps of late. Pollution has virtually wiped out spawning in the Delaware River, chemical contamination and power plants have taken their toll of Hudson River fish and the Chesapeake Bay system hasn't had a good hatch, or what biologists call "a dominant year-class," since 1970.
"Basically, we're fishing on 1970 fish and older right now," says Ben Florence of the Maryland Fisheries Administration, "and since 1970 we've had mediocre production and just can't sustain the levels we're used to. A pretty good handle is our commercial harvest in Chesapeake Bay. We take approximately half of the commercial harvest on the whole East Coast. In 1973 we harvested approximately five million pounds of striped bass. In 1977 the harvest dropped to one million pounds, 20% of 1973's. It's been a straight-line drop."
In an effort to boost the striper population, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has proposed a ban on all commercial fishing this spring in spawning rivers and part of the bay itself. Warren K. Rich, assistant attorney general for the department, says the ban on spring fishing is "a very preliminary step in a national effort that Maryland is going to try to spearhead to conserve striped bass. It may have a significant impact, but to have a major effect we are going to need other states' cooperation," because stripers migrate from the Chesapeake after spawning.
Lefty Kreh, the perceptive outdoors writer for The Baltimore Sun, says, "No one denies that the Chesapeake Bay has declined in water quality. Few will deny, too, that we have a serious striped-bass problem. What is done in the next five years may determine for all time what happens to the striper on the Atlantic Coast."