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A LOOK AT MINICYCLES
The evils long thought to lie mainly in the overly competitive world of Little League baseball—or any other sport for kids (see cover) that is dominated by parents and adult coaches with limited understanding of the child's psyche—now would seem to have found another home. On page 42 Ernest Havemann presents the story of minicycle racing for children as young as 2� years up to 16.
Dr. Thomas P. Johnson, San Diego child psychiatrist and member of the National Athletic Health Institute's medical advisory board, has this to say, stressing that his observations are based on "the very limited sampling of the 15 to 20 youngsters with whom I've worked who were actively participating in this sport.
"Many children don't just choose it but are encouraged to choose it by the parents, often in very subtle ways," he said. "The majority of parents would be uncomfortable with young children in such a high-risk situation. And there is risk. I know of a grade-schooler who spent several months in a cast, immobilized from the waist down....
"But why can't these kids get pleasure from the involvement and excitement of competing in running races, bicycle racing, sailboat racing? There is tremendous excitement in these sports without the danger and speed. For some children, and for some parents, these things are not scary enough, not glamorous enough. It takes something pretty dramatic to turn some people on.
"I recognize there are risks in crossing the street, but I'm just raising the question: Need we introduce this high-speed element?"
The opposite philosophy holds: a man's life is studded with risks, some of which he can learn to calculate. The earlier a kid knows that, the better.
DR. J, SOLD UP THE RIVER
The most complicated deal in sports history may well have been the sale of Julius Erving of the ABA Virginia Squires to the New York Nets. The extraordinary Dr. J (SI, Dec. 11) has established that he is capable of stuffing arenas as well as baskets, but the Squires' owner, Earl Foreman, is reported to be cash poor, and that was at the heart of the deal. Now, with Erving's departure, the team is apt to become fan poor.
The deal was one of those good old one-player, four-team transactions involving the Nets and the Squires, along with the NBA Atlanta Hawks, who had a contract with the 6'7" forward effective at the start of the 1975-76 season, and the Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the NBA draft rights to Dr. J. The Nets agreed to pay Erving, the Squires and the Hawks a total of almost $4 million with roughly $2.5 million of that going to the player over the next eight years. The Bucks, distraught at being left out of the dole, have threatened to sue any and all parties on whatever grounds they can conjure up.