COLD WAR GAMES
Among the more superfluous additions to the sports scene this year is Uncle Tug, the world's first electronic tug-of-war machine. This Rube Goldberg-like contraption consists of a red, white and blue drum with rope extending out either end and fitted with a rotary switch. As contestants heave, a towering light board depicting Uncle Sam, arms upraised and fists clenched victoriously, gives a high-tech readout that tells you who's ahead.
The inventor, Jack Barringer, who has an electronic dart board and a mechanical log-rolling device in the R & D stage, came up with the red, white and blue motif as an afterthought. He says he wanted to "capitalize on the patriotic fervor and competitive spirit sweeping America."
He'll get his chance April 4, when a Soviet wrestling team meets an American side in Ames, Iowa, Barringer's hometown. The grapplers are scheduled to give Tug a go. Soviets to the left, Yanks to the right, no doubt.
Mike Schmidt has discovered that the booing endemic to sports fans in the City of Brotherly Love may be congenital. The Phillies' third baseman recently pulled up beside a school bus to see if his daughter Jessica was on board. While he was casually chatting with the bus driver, the kids began chanting, "Choke! Choke! Choke!"
"That's your Philadelphia fan in the making," said Schmidt.
SHORT ON TALENT, LONG ON CHUTZPAH
All Zach Lieberman ever wanted to do when he grew up was play pro hoops. And so he practiced eight hours a day, forwent a normal adolescence and slept with a basketball for 15 years. The problem is, Lieberman never quite grew up. The U.S. International junior, who just hired an agent—Paul Silas—and is about to go hardship, is 5'2�".
Lieberman's career stats with the Soaring Gulls of the San Diego school are strictly from Lilliput: He hit only 29.9% of his shots from the floor, but then he took only enough to average 3.1 points a game. Besides, Lieberman's forte is ball handling: He had 167 assists, though they were perhaps vitiated by his 171 turnovers. Nevertheless, he does have a pro offer, albeit from the Washington Generals, a team that hasn't beaten its lone opponent, the Harlem Globetrotters, in 14 years. Says Lieberman defiantly, "With my style of play, I should be on the Globetrotters."