players have been pampered for too long, also. The whispering and silences that
go on during a tennis match are absurd. I say let the people yell, scream,
shout, boo, do whatever they feel like doing. They paid their money. I've been
booed. So what? More crowd noise would be hard on the players at first, but
that's only because we aren't used to it. If you're a pro, you learn to
thing applies to the tiebreak scoring system," she said. "When that
came in, the players went crazy. 'Oh, no, we can't play that!' We could and
did. WCT hates sudden death, but in truth it makes tennis. The men hate the
pressure, but that's what sport is all about. Now, let's take the Van Alen
system all the way. Let's score games 1-0, 2-0 and so on. A game should be four
points, no deuce-ad, forget it. That will put a time limit on matches and make
Billie Jean the most is the disparate purses awarded men and women at major
tournaments. "We do not want equal pay for equal work," she says.
"We only want what we're worth. For two years we've out-drawn the men at
Forest Hills by whatever criteria they've used, but this year the men's money
was 2� times the women's, and at Wimbledon it is twice as much even though I
know we draw at least as many people there as the men every year. We think our
tournaments should be apart from the men's so we can be judged. If we don't
draw as well, we shouldn't be paid as much."
paused. "Many people ask me if it hurts to see the youngsters, Evonne
Goolagong and Chris Evert, get so much recognition," she said. "Their
stardom and all that attention are my dream for tennis. What did hurt was Chris
turning down all her money last year to remain an amateur. She would have won
at least $40,000 and often I told her to go ahead and take it. I've put in 15
years so the day would come when somebody like Chris would be able to win such
amounts. Then when she refuses it, it just destroys me."
The growing wave
of commercialism in sport, the odor of big business, drew mixed reactions from
Wooden and Billie Jean. "I used to be on the players' side in
disputes," Wooden said, "but I think players' unions have become the
tail wagging the dog. I was disgusted with the baseball strike. Management has
too large an investment not to have the absolute right to run its business as
it pleases. Athletes aren't taken advantage of; their salaries are way out of
line. Why should they receive retirement income after 10 years of work that
dwarfs the money teachers get after 40 years? Certainly their income is
short-lived. But their education hasn't been lost. What do they do the rest of
their lives, sit around? The fact they have played pro sports opens many doors
to athletes that are closed to others who have more ability."
Billie Jean felt
sport does not deserve "this pastoral aura. We're in big business, and
until people face reality we'll be dabbling in nonsense forever. Salaries
aren't out of line, not even on moral grounds. We happen to be in the
entertainment business at a time when that is in demand. If we can get the
money, we deserve it. If management can't afford salaries, they are the first
to say so. The fact they do pay out so much means it is worthwhile to someone.
Of course, contracts should be honored. But when a Vida Blue becomes a
fantastic draw, and packs them in by himself, concessions should be made. I'm
not in favor of all this jumping teams, but we must face that, too. It's all in
Future Shock by Toffler—life is more temporary. People don't remain in one job
anymore; they'll have six or seven jobs in a lifetime. Colleges should make
kids sign contracts, or there's going to be more jumping."
wouldn't want that," Wooden said. "I truly wouldn't."
Billie Jean did
not let up. "We must lift sport out of this glass jar. We can't divorce
ourselves from politics, either. I haven't met one human being who agrees with
Avery Brundage that sport is above politics. The nationalistic flavor of the
Olympics breeds political problems. Athletes should represent themselves, not
their countries. Using one's position in sport to influence a political
situation is a personal, individual matter. I've been to South Africa a couple
of times but the conditions have bothered me and I won't go back. In my work
for the Women's Political Caucus, I think of myself as a woman, not an athlete,
and yet what makes me valuable is that I'm a tennis star. It's an athlete's
privilege, like anybody else's, to speak out on issues."
Wooden agreed, up
to a point. "When Walton was arrested last spring in an anti-war protest,
he was acting on his own," he said. "He wasn't using basketball. Yet he
was criticized because he is a basketball player.
recent development has bothered me," he said. "I'm as loyal to the flag
and the country as the next man. I love the national anthem and would like to
see its use continued at athletic contests, yet my team has been criticized for
not being on the floor when the anthem is played. I prefer that we be in the
locker room when the song goes on—so the players don't stand around cold after
warmups. I certainly am not avoiding the anthem."