Patterson, who was black, had decided that the world champion of boxing must be moral as well as a skilled boxer.
Even then role models were in vogue. And Floyd Patterson, when he looked in the mirror, saw a worthy role model. Whereas Sonny, when he looked in the mirror, saw a snake coming out of the darkness. His self-perception was modeled after those around him, the way they perceived him.
The grass is spotty, the dirt patches shine through. The field isn’t what you’d expect for an Ultimate Frisbee league, as it is centered in the outfield of a prison softball field. Yet, a little over a dozen men, convicts, stand at the ready. Some wearing gloves, some shirtless with all manner of tattoos, and the field is marked with orange pylons commandeered from the prison flag football league. This is Frisbee, prison Frisbee.
When people think of federal prison they think of hardened convicts. They think of razor wire and gun towers. They think of stabbings, stompings, and race conflicts. They think of prison guards, their mace and their batons. Such of these thoughts are applicable. Just yesterday someone was stomped in the prison chow hall for sitting at the wrong table. Prison is prison, and what happens in prison simply happens. But perhaps when people think about prison they should think too of sports leagues, camaraderie, and healthy competition, albeit competition with teeth. After all, this is prison sports we’re talking about, not an intramural league at a liberal arts college. Most of us are serving sentences in excess of five or even 10 years; some may never go home.
As the Frisbee players of FCI Petersburg – a medium security federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia – group up, they start to throw around a few Frisbees. Long games of catch ensue in the pre-game dawn light. Games here are often pick-up and last from 6 PM to 8 PM. These times coincide with the “activities moves,” when the reinforced internal prison gates – gates topped with razor wire and security cameras, of course – are opened and prisoners are allowed to move to different locations within the prison. While there are weeks when only one or two games are played, there have literally been complete months when everyone comes out and plays for every single night. Again, this isn’t regular Frisbee, it is prison Frisbee, and the stakes aren’t about wins on a scoreboard – of which we have none – but more about identity and a sense of being. Hey, we’re in prison and we need something to grasp in an effort to find meaning in life, even if for only a few hours a week, and even if only a small part of our identity.
Golf is popular with millions of people, young and old, expert and beginners. And like most popular sports, golf has a history.
Before the present-day, white, dimpled golf ball, they used various and in some cases strange substitutes for golf balls. Early golf balls were made of cowhide, while later examples were constructed from feathers and sap. Then along came rubber and golf balls really began to change. Nowadays, golf balls are made from urethane blends.
In the very beginning, golf balls were made from wood. These wooden examples date back to the 1400s. The clubs were made from wood, too. The balls were handmade as were the clubs. And since technology wasn’t even really a word then, the balls weren’t very round and the clubs were less than efficient.
It was during the 17th century that the ‘featherie’ ball replaced the man-made wooden golf ball. Featherie balls were composed of goose or chicken feathers jam-packed into a small leather pouch. First the feathers were boiled, then they were stuffed into the pouch, which had been soaked in warm water. As the pouch dried and cooled the feathers would expand. The result, hopefully, was a hard, compact golf ball.
There’s a Greatest Game in every sport. In football, many fans would argue that it’s the 1958 Championship game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts. In baseball, a lot of games are designated the greatest, but one that has to be considered is game six of the 1975 World Series.
According to Mark Frost, the Greatest Game Ever Played took place in 1913: The U.S. Open golf championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Never heard of it? Well, you’re not alone. Most people haven’t. So Frost wrote a book about it, a book he called The Greatest Game Ever Played, published by Hyperion.