This week managing editor Bill Colson turns over this space to
Jerry Kirshenbaum, a valued member of the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
staff for the past 28 years, the last 11 of them as an assistant
managing editor. Kirshenbaum writes:

Long ago I wrote two lengthy pieces for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED on
the subject of retirement and how folks were coping with its
burdens and pleasures. I got the assignments shortly after I
came to SI, from TIME, from then managing editor Andre Laguerre,
who was soon to retire and felt certain he would be consigned to
the scrap heap. After running the first story, Laguerre wanted
something "more poignant," hence the follow-up piece. That one
conveyed more of the pathos he had in mind. It was titled You
Can't Put Out the Fire.

Now it's my turn to retire--after completing a sabbatical that I
embark on this week--and while I don't share Laguerre's dread of
spending more time at home, my wife, Susan, and son, David, may
be experiencing some pangs. So, as SI's writers sum up 1996
(page 64), I find myself summing up a career.

For whatever reason, a lot of the most memorable stories I wrote
or edited were downers. The saddest was the murder of 11 Israeli
Olympians in Munich, which I reported while covering the 1972
Games. Later I was put in charge of investigations and Olympic
operations, which led to my overseeing our coverage of the Ben
Johnson doping scandal in Seoul in '88.

You can't spend three decades on any job without witnessing
changes. Years ago SI spent a lot of time conducting lab tests
to determine whether baseballs were juiced, but the bigger
question has become whether the athletes are juiced. In the
mid-1970s the success of East Germany's women swimmers prompted
their U.S. rivals to accuse them of using anabolic steroids. As
SI's aquatics expert I spouted (fortunately, not in print) that
the Americans were guilty of sour grapes and predicted that
10-year-old schoolgirls would soon routinely achieve the same
supposedly impossible times. I was right about the 10-year-olds
but wrong about the grapes; it turned out that many of the East
Germans had been on steroids.

I saw sports evolve from individual athletes holding out to
leagues holding out (baseball strikes, football strikes) to
nations holding out (Olympic boycotts). I saw the day come when
players change uniforms so often that fans who root for the home
team are, as Jerry Seinfeld says, "cheering for laundry." I've
been at SI long enough to have seen a challenger win the
America's Cup, somebody break Bob Beamon's long jump record and
Northwestern, my alma mater, return to the Rose Bowl. But I
figure it would be folly to wait around for somebody to eclipse
Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Or for Northwestern to
win the Rose Bowl.

COLOR PHOTO: ASHLEY ROSS Jerry and wife Susan were on hand to cheer Northwestern in the Rose Bowl. [Susan Kirshenbaum and Jerry Kirshenbaum]