Sports Notebook

Article excerpt

Football: Facing Flaws Of America's Game Teddy Roosevelt once came down hard on football so disturbed was he by its violence. If it hadn't survived, we can only imagine how different the face of the American sports landscape would be today. Perhaps soccer would be king, the United States would be the World Cup champion several times over, National Soccer League doubleheaders would be televised every Sunday, and college teams and fans would be fixated on who's No. 1. Doubtless, some of the attendant problems associated with big-time college football would be part of the package. But one has to wonder, too, if some of the problems would largely drop out. Two garnering attention at the moment - criminal charges against three University of Nebraska players and almost embarrassingly lopsided scores by several teams - logically could occur in any sport. That they exist in football, as currently constituted, however, should not seem especially surprising. Below some of the surface flaws of the sport, perhaps the root cause of some of its challenges are the excessive number of athletic scholarships awarded. The number of scholarships any single program may award has been trimmed from 100 to 85, and still many coaches howl, claiming that the quality of the game will suffer. But who ever said college football had to look like the professional game to be entertaining, which shouldn't be the main point anyhow? Fewer scholarships, for one, would force coaches to be more careful in what kind of students they recruit for their programs and would also give them smaller flocks to tend. If this happened, wouldn't some of the off-field problems diminish? And with a greater dispersal of quality players, maybe the playing field would be more level, and fewer scores like 77-17, 77-28, and 66-14 would appear in Sunday papers, as they did over the weekend. Touching other bases *Pop quiz: How many innings must be played before a major-league baseball game goes in the book? (Answer appears below.) *Baseball's new, expanded playoff format may hold nightmarish possibilities for a team like the Boston Red Sox, who are currently running away with the American League East race. The New York Yankees, their fiercest rivals, could still qualify for the playoffs as a wild card and win the American League championship. Since the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920, the Yankees have won the World Series 22 times, Boston none. In their most recent encounter, New York swept Boston in a three-game series. *Unlike its outdoor progenitor, where goals are hard to come by, indoor soccer generally produces bushels of them. In fact, until last month no team in the Continental Indoor Soccer League had ever been shut out. …