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"We want to be as scientific as possible," explains Dr. Kenneth Backhouse of London, one of the society's leading spirits. "We want to keep out the bleeding 'earts—you know, the dear old souls who want to watch the little furry creatures. The bleeding 'earts have nearly ruined bird watching, and with mammals they'd be fatal."
With this in mind, the society's rabbit and seal watchers, whale observers and bat ringers (who catch bats and put identifying bands on their forearms) sternly snooped on mammals all over England. The habits of weasels, seals, stoats, squirrels, polecats, rabbits, deer, rats, moles and voles were under scrutiny. It was rumored that hares seemed to be moving into rabbit holes—now that the rabbits have fallen prey to myxomatosis. One J.H.F. Stevenson reported that female foxes call their young with a "wuffling" sound—"Ug, ug, ug, ug," said very rapidly with the mouth shut. Dead badgers were in demand—for dissection. "Bleeding 'earts," said Dr. Backhouse proudly, "would never scrape a dead badger off a road."
The society's most massive problem? Whales, the doctor thought. "We know that numbers of whales and dolphins and porpoises are washed up, stranded on beaches around Britain every year. It's the duty of anyone seeing a stranded whale to report it to the Registrar of Wrecks. The Coastguards used to do it, but with radar, the number of Coastguards is going down. But there must be lots of people who would be interested enough to do it—if you could only publicize the fact that they should. That's the sort of thing we want to do."
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
St. Louis is to U.S. soccer as Philadelphia is to scrapple, so it was no surprise that the U.S. Olympic soccer trials were held there last week. The 15-man team—the first full U.S. squad in any sport to be chosen for the November Olympics—now faces the next question: How to get to Melbourne?
When it comes to doling out travel money, the U.S. Olympic Committee lists sports roughly in order of their "mass base." Soccer is third from last on the list, outranking only cycling and field hockey. To help raise the $35,000 expense kitty, the committee hopes to match the U.S. soccer team against visiting English, Scots and German amateur teams this spring and summer. The team will definitely go to Melbourne; however, a scheduled elimination match with Mexico was called off and the U.S. won by default when the Mexicans could not raise enough pesos for their own expenses.
In Australia the Americans will not have to strain very hard to better previous U.S. Olympic records. The U.S. has been represented by soccer teams at the Games since 1924 (16 years after soccer was added to the list of Olympic events). That year the Americans survived the first round, defeating an Estonian team, only to lose out to Uruguay 3-0. Since then the U.S. has never got beyond the first round, has scored a grand total of two points in 24 years.
Unsurprisingly, four members of the 15-man 1956 team are St. Louisans, and so is the top-ranked alternate, John Traina (members of the selection committee admitted that they might have picked Traina for the first squad, but felt that one more man might give the team too much of a Missouri accent). Otherwise, the teammates are eminently representative of the whole country. Four players are New Yorkers, three are from Chicago, with Los Angeles, University Park, Pa., Syracuse and Cincinnati represented by one man each. Among the players are three soldiers, a barber, a mailman, a shipping clerk and a truck driver. The team's flashiest player, Inside Forward Zenon Snylyk, 22, is a naturalized American born in the Ukraine who is also a political science student at the University of Chicago. Next fall he plans to move to St. Louis, so he can play more soccer.
LESSON ON A GRECIAN URN
Earl Alexander of Tunis tossed off an idea about Olympic competition the other day, and it was enough to make the turf tremble on the playing fields of Harrow: Why bother about the distinction between amateurs and professionals anyhow? "Let everybody compete," cried Earl Alexander. "Then there can be no arguments afterward. After all, the world has changed considerably since the Olympic Games were revived in the 1890s by Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France. For one thing, there were few professional athletes of any description at that time."