Most people, myself included, read Sports Illustrated for the articles. At least until the swimsuit edition arrives. But other than that issue, pictures are secondary (after the first few pages) to the written word. The last page has become an audition to see which writer comes as close in popularity to the readers as Rick Reilly. It might be a stretch to compare him to John Wooden but there seems to be no outright favorite yet even though there have been several very good columns. It seems that there are many Gene Bartows, Gary Cunninghams, Walt Hazzards, Jim Harricks, Steve Lavins and Ben Howlands (most of whom were outstanding coaches) at SI but no one like Coach Wooden. For my money, there hasn’t even been a Larry Brown yet.
When SI first asked its readers which of a list of sports, other than football, basketball, baseball and possibly a couple others that currently escape my mind (which shows my particular tastes), they had an interest in, e.g. tennis, golf, auto racing, etc. my choices came down to tennis and golf. It was a tough choice and if I were younger - and still playing tennis - that would have been what I’d have selected. Since my back issues eliminated playing tennis about a decade ago, I chose golf. Now I get additional articles on the sport as well as special extra editions. A good friend of mine is a scratch (or close) golfer so those issues go to him, after I’ve briefly scanned them.
The one on the Masters that just came out intrigued me enough that as I perused it, the article with their panel of (three) experts (and one anonymous pro) caught my eye. Opinions abound in sports and I’ve found (through experience) it’s always a good idea to hear what others who are deeply involved in a sport or topic think before you start popping off, or even discussing, issues so as not to look foolish. Although I’ve read some interesting points in the past, little did I think I’d come across as introspective an explanation as Gary Van Sickle’s regarding Rory McElroy’s approach to his profession. Van Sickle said of the young star:
“He’s not all golf like Tiger was. Rory is going to take the time to enjoy his life. He reminds me of Arnold Palmer a little there. He’ll be streaky great, and he’s got other interests. He’ll have a better quality of life, and if that means a couple fewer major wins in the long run, that’s all right.”
In addition to expertly defining the differences between the two golfers, the Van Sickle quote speaks volumes to most everybody who has a job. If you’ve just entered the working world, those are your choices. How do you approach your profession? Do you love it so much that it consumes your every waking minute? In the business world, that type of an employee is called a workaholic. Those people often find an abundance of material wealth, yet, frequently, there is something missing in their life in another area of it. In the field of sports, we call them single minded and driven. Some (most?) people think a person’s life should be balanced. We all remember the old adage “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”
The times and people (and salaries/purses for sporting events/endorsement deals) have made that quote obsolete. Now, it’s “get it while you can” and “the window of opportunity is open only so long.” Maybe not so much in golf where some
wise brilliant old golfer had the imagination - or told somebody else - to create a Seniors Tour. Still, people don’t want to see extraordinary talent not pushed to the ultimate. Usually parents and agents because 1) nearly all of them weren’t as athletically blessed and 2) they don’t have to do the heavy lifting.
Far too many people have altered the line so that it turned around the original message. Maybe Rory McElroy has it right but for now it’s become:
“All work and no play make Jack (or Jill) a champion.”