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Pocaro once worked for a TV station and understands something about camera angles. He had experts analyze the films, survey the track and plot the precise courses of the two horses as they came together. He based his case on the mysteries of parallax, which is defined by Webster's as "the difference in apparent direction of an object as seen from two different points not on a straight line with the object." In other words, Pocaro argued that what the judges saw on film wasn't what happened on the track. His case was helped when the official presiding over the hearing asked, "Can you explain to me why the trailer in back of these pictures [a trailer beyond the outside rail that was in the background of the films] seems to move from picture to picture?"
One of Pocaro's expert witnesses, NBC cameraman Fred Himmelfarb, explained. Using blowups of dozens of still shots made from the patrol films and demonstrating parallax distortion with masking tape and a felt-tip pen, he asked the judges to watch how the trailer appeared to shift position as one of the cameras filming the race moved to follow the horses. The same distortion applied to Savilla Lobell, Himmelfarb declared. To the untrained eye it appeared that she was bearing in. But, he said, "because the cameraman moved the camera to the left at the same instant as the collision, Savilla Lobell only appeared to go toward...Belanda Hanover." In short, the contact between the two horses hadn't been caused by Savilla Lobell. The commission agreed and last month overturned the disqualification. Savilla Lobell was declared the winner.
The case ought to give pause to those urging the use of TV replays as an aid in sports officiating. Far from being infallible, the camera does lie. And oh, what a can of worms the decision may have opened for racing, flat and harness alike. Track officials depend strongly on patrol films for the strict policing of the sport. Heretofore, decisions based on what the judges saw in the films have seldom been challenged. Now, though, when a jock or a driver is accused of committing mayhem on the far turn, can't you hear the cry go up, "Parallax, judge, it was parallax! I never touched him."
CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK
As a boy, Roy Booth Jr. trudged through the Oregon woods with his dad, a timber faller who does contract work for Boise Cascade. He hunted, fished and learned the ways of the forest, and soon was begging his dad to teach him how to sling an ax. "I wanted to do everything Pop did," Junior says.
Father, son and other family members traveled from their La Grande, Ore. home to lumberjack shows across the Pacific Northwest, with Roy Sr. entering and dominating pro events; Roy Jr. showing promise in the novice, or sportsman, category; mother Joan participating in lumberjill competition; and daughter Jolene, six years younger than her brother, taking part in logrolling. The family practiced by sawing, chopping and boring in their backyard. "The logs we go through heat our home all winter," Joan says.
Roy Jr., who's now 20 and works with his father and has married and lives in a mobile home next door to his parents' house, is starting to think he may have gone too far in emulating Pop. In 1978 and 1979, Roy Sr. won the first two Homelite Tournament of Kings world chain-sawing championships in Charlotte, N.C., but a year ago, Roy Jr., having qualified for the first time for the tournament, which is sometimes called the Lumberjack World Series, dethroned his father, who finished fourth. In the process, Junior broke the older man's world records in speed cutting and the steeplechase. (The tournament's other events are speed boring, precision cutting, tree felling and disc stacking.)
Roy Sr., 48, views his defeat with equanimity. "If I had to be beaten by anyone," he says, "I'm glad it was my son." But Roy Jr. says, "All my life I looked up to my father—and then, just like that, I beat him. I couldn't believe it. Some of the competitors said Dad had let me win. That not only took away from what I had accomplished, but it darkened his integrity. I felt kind of bad."