SI Vault
Edited by Andrew Crichton
June 24, 1974
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June 24, 1974


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The chances are that not many girls will want to play Little League baseball, but that is wholly beside the point of the recent court litigations that ended happily last week with LLB, Inc.'s decision to "defer to the changing social climate" and permit girls to join their teams. For too long in this supposed century of enlightenment, women have had to do with second best. This has been distressingly true in sport where, until the last few years funds and facilities were almost the exclusive right and province of males. The effect of such treatment on most girls growing up was to inhibit them, physically and psychologically, where athletics were concerned.

It is a vain misuse of good time to attempt to predict where this trend toward equality in sport, of which the Little League's action is only a passing part, will lead. A safe guess, though, is that at least in their formative years far more girls than before will play with and against boys and do quite well, thank you. By their teens, with many of the boys running faster, throwing farther and jumping higher, all but the most gifted girls will want to play on their own teams. And, grown confident in their rights and abilities, they will do so, asking for and receiving equal time—and comparable starting times—on the previously forbidden playing fields. And that is as it should be.

Charles Maher, Los Angeles Times staff writer, is playing a game, translating everyday life into the metric system. For example, it's first down and 9.144 meters to go, or the winning run is just 27.4320 meters away on third. But there are subtler examples that he explores, like describing an inchworm. It becomes a 2.54-centimeter worm; a footnote, an 0.3048-meter note. Parents will give children 2.54 centimeters and the kids will take 1.6093 kilometers before settling down with Erskine Caldwell's "God's Little 0.4047 Hectare." The Kentucky Derby will be run at the classic 2.0116-kilometer distance, the National Hot Rod Association will turn into the 5.029-Meter Association but will not, of course, be represented in the famous old Indianapolis 804.65 Kilometers. Maher almost makes a foot fault sound desirable.


Tax writeoffs, amortization and other such arcane arts of finance are popularly believed responsible for the investment mania that is sustaining so many of the new teams and leagues in professional sport. Well, it ain't necessarily so says Sam Battistone, who knows about this sort of thing. Using several of the millions he made with his restaurant chain, Sambo's, the 34-year-old West Coast entrepreneur organized a mini-sports conglomerate early last year called Invest West Sports. It now owns 50% of the Hawaii team in the World Football League, a small slice of the Hawaii club in World Team Tennis, big pieces of pro track, the new National Basketball Association team in New Orleans and flourishing sports camps. Battistone thinks he has made a discovery from all this activity. The hardheaded moneymen turn to goo inside when given a chance to invest in sports.

"You can talk about business standards and depreciation and so forth," Battistone says, "but there is a glamorous part of sports that just has no relationship to whether you're going to make money, no basis in economic analysis. There's glamour in associating with people who excel in areas you would have liked to excel in.

"If you want to sell an apartment package, they're going to say, "Now let's see. How do I get my money back? What's the cash flow and depreciation?' But I call a guy on the sports thing—in fact they call me and say they'd like to put some money in—and I say, 'Would you like me to tell you exactly what it is?' and they say, 'No, where do I send the check?' I can't believe it. Substantial, dignified businessmen and they just say, 'I want to own part of the team and will you take my money?' "


Like a lot of San Franciscans, Mike King has this thing about heights. He loves to jump from them, but there the similarity ends. King has no yearnings to self-destruct. He just wants to fall farther than most people without a parachute.

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