Lest I've created the impression in this space that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED staffers are all capable of running 2:30 marathons and holding their own on the satellite tennis tour or, at least, are inclined to attempt such deeds, let me refer you to Senior Editor Scot Leavitt. As editor of this week's story on the LPGA Championship, which begins on page 66, and of almost all of our other golf articles for the last four years, Leavitt has rarely addressed a golf ball. And now that he has, for the moment, added boxing, including this week's dual fight coverage (page 22), to a repertoire that also includes chess, crew, soccer, volleyball and harness racing, he promises, true to form, not to put hand in glove, either.
Which isn't to say that Leavitt finds boxing uninteresting. When he was a lad of 13 or so, he occasionally put on the gloves to have it out with his buddy, Eddie Chamberlain, in the corner of the Brunswick School gym in Greenwich, Conn. Chamberlain, Leavitt recalls, fought with his left arm fully extended and threw quick, stiletto-like jabs. "He'd go pop, pop, pop at my nose," says Leavitt. "I didn't think it was especially fair, but it was very effective."
These days the only punches Leavitt takes are from the Yule bowl at SI Christmas parties, and he has been known to throw a punch line into a story now and then. He also has a fondness for the odd golf epigram—e.g., "It's a long hole that has no dogleg." At his desk he leans into his work like a rower about to take a particularly long stroke, and in fact he used to write crew while president of the Harvard Crimson right after World War II. SI Senior Writer Coles Phinizy was president of the Harvard Lampoon at about the same time. Leavitt remembers Phinizy not so much for his wit as for his ability to write left-handed backward and righthanded forward simultaneously.
Although Leavitt spends little time playing golf, to say nothing of boxing, he has frequently pondered the similarities and dissimilarities between these sports. "Golf is played in sunlight and everyone wears nifty clothing," he observes. "In boxing, they wear Everlast trunks and protective cups, and everybody sweats a lot and winds up with battered features."
June 21, 1981
But he finds both sports especially intriguing because they involve solo performances that a journalist has a good chance of getting a solid grip on. That's in marked contrast to pro basketball, say, which Leavitt edited for five years. At times that tends to mystify him—and, he believes, other observers. "A team that looks wonderful one night can look dreadful the next," he says, "and I don't think coaches or even hardened sports reporters quite know why."
Though Leavitt knows there are those who say golf is hardly a sport because its participants don't bleed and barely perspire, he likes the sport best of all, for its orderly, rational civility. "Can you imagine a Jimmy Connors in golf?" he says. "Or the PGA Tour going on strike?"