One of the functional clichés of our business is that of the tongue-tied jock—the athlete who staggers across the finish line or climbs from the prize ring to offer something that sounds like, "I owe it all to clean livin'." But it should come as no surprise to regular readers of SI that, like many clichés of the sporting world, this one belies the facts.
Not that the sports world suddenly has blossomed forth with regiments of orator-philosophers. Writers still are bedeviled by the speechless superstar. But, as if in response to the greater role that sport and leisure now play in our lives, many athletes have broken loose from the old strictures imposed by habit and tradition and have been giving clearer voice to their emotions, drives and dreams.
Contrary to those who hold that an athlete's place is in the gym, we applaud these sallies into the world of thought as well as deed. And to those who question whether a sporting insight is any insight at all, we point to some hard evidence in this week's issue of SI, which contains statements by two articulate champions from widely disparate sports.
In an interview with Kim Chapin, on page 32, race driver Sam Posey offers some cerebral observations about his high-pressure craft. And on page 44 distance runner Kenny Moore writes his own assessment of the pleasures of his low-key sport, a presentation accompanied by some evocative and colorful photography.
November 1, 1971
In assembling the combination of pictures and words on cross-country, Editor Gilbert Rogin realized that nothing would quite convey as well the mood and satisfactions of this sport as the insights of a serious participant. Fortunately, he knew that Moore, an AAU marathon champion, was also a writer of some experience. Moore was pleased to try his hand at explaining the cross-country mystique. As you will see, his essay casts fine, steady images across his reader's mind.
Not surprisingly, among all the athletes who have contributed articles to SI over the years—and the list includes such names as Bill Russell, Ron Mix, Roger Bannister and Ron Delany—distance runners have shown a particular gift. The reason probably rests in the nature of the sport (long hours arc available to the participant for observation and reflection).
Most of Moore's writing is done as "the peripatetic track correspondent" of the Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore., near his home in Lowell. He covers his own meets whenever the paper cannot send a staff writer. His wife Bobbie, who edits all Moore's material, has taken up distance running herself—perhaps to make sure Kenny knows what he is writing about. She even entered a marathon recently, and Kenny ran as an observer. He intended, he said, to write an article about his wife's "silliness." It never came off, and we are glad. After all, if runners are to be permitted to write off their frustrations, why shouldn't editors—even if they are married to a writer—run off theirs?
P.S. Bobbie finished 251st.