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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
In breaking the U.S.'s 132-year hold on the America's Cup last September, Australia II had two secret weapons. One, of course, was her now-famous winged keel. The other was a battle flag on her forestay showing a kangaroo in boxing gloves, a theme repeated in posters and T shirts sold in Newport shops picturing a kangaroo kayoing an American eagle. Although the winged keel no doubt played a more important role, the kangaroo with the knockout punch was certainly symbolic of what happened to the U.S. defender, Liberty.
Now the New York Yacht Club is fighting back with symbolism of its own. The triumphant Aussies have scheduled a defense of the America's Cup off Perth in January 1987, and Arthur Wullschleger, operations manager for a New York Yacht Club syndicate that hopes to wrest back the mug, has come up with a startling motif for a battle flag for his group's new boat, America II. The flag will depict a kangaroo tick, a tiny parasite that preys on the large marsupial. Wullschleger got the idea from an Australian journalist. "I asked him what a kangaroo's mortal enemy was," he says. "I was hoping it was a snake or something, but a tick? Jesus!"
According to Dr. Jim Keirans, a tick taxonomist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the species that the Aussie journalist probably had in mind was Ixodes holocyclus, which preys on kangaroos and can cause tick paralysis. But Wullschleger appears to be more concerned with the critter's appearance than its moniker. "It's going to be a rotten, nasty tick with huge teeth, and it'll be looking mean at the kangaroo," he says fiercely.
LOST IN THE TRANSLATION
DON'T TELL US WHAT TO DO
Rick Huckabay was probably the most popular man in Huntington, W. Va. last winter when, in his first year as basketball coach, he guided Marshall University to the Southern Conference regular-season championship and then went on to win the postseason conference tournament. People called the team Huck's Herd, and everybody seemed to love Huckabay. Now some residents of Huntington have turned on the coach. He has received hate mail, his wife has been harassed, his 9-year-old son was punched by a 12-year-old and the Huckabay home has been pelted with eggs.
His crime? He criticized the local Little League. A former baseball player himself (he went to Louisiana Tech on a baseball scholarship), Huckabay attended Little League games as a parent and found a lot of things he didn't like. He disapproved of the way managers and coaches treated the kids on their teams. He objected to the antagonistic behavior of adult spectators when youngsters messed up at bat or in the field. He resented the language that was used. As a parent of a 9-year-old, he felt it was wrong for kids of that age to be competing against 12-year-olds.
He asked Little League officials if he could talk to a meeting of coaches about his concerns but was told they weren't interested. So Huckabay, who'd written columns for a Huntington newspaper during the basketball season, wrote an article for the paper in which he made all his points and also offered to help raise money to improve playing facilities. The reaction was instant and angry. Some readers bristled at his criticism. There was resentment of an intrusion into Little League affairs by an "outsider." Even those who said they agreed with him did nothing to support him. Huckabay said that in his 17 years as a basketball coach he had never faced such a tide of animosity.
Still, he didn't recant. "I'm not backing down," he says. "Baseball should be wholesome fun for these kids. The kind of atmosphere which prevails at some of these games is certain to turn the youngsters against the sport."
BRIEFLY BENCHED, HE'S STILL THE GUIDES' NO. 1 FAN