At last week's Titan Games, a three-day, three-ring circus built
primarily around amateur combat sports such as judo, boxing and
fencing--all going on simultaneously--senior writer Kelli
Anderson thoroughly enjoyed the cacophony. But she was in San
Jose to experience the calm at the center of the competition: the
imperturbable Cael Sanderson, making his debut on the
international stage. Sanderson, who in 2002 became the first
wrestler to finish his college career undefeated, approached the
much-anticipated event (page 54) with the same mellow demeanor he
maintained throughout his 159-match winning streak at Iowa State.
"He's very down to earth, very humble," says Anderson, who has
been with SI for 13 years, mainly covering college basketball.
"He's casual in a lot of ways. Considering all the attention he's
had this year, he doesn't have a superstar air about him at all."
Wading into stormier waters by visiting with Nolan Richardson
(page 50), senior writer Tim Layden found the deposed Arkansas
basketball coach planning a legal battle against his former
employer with the same intensity once associated with his Forty
Minutes of Hell defense. "He feels he was mistreated when
Arkansas fired him last March, and it's not in his nature to take
this sort of thing lying down," Layden says. "He may be right or
wrong, but it's fascinating to listen to him tell his story."
Richardson, who still lives about 15 minutes from the campus
where he coached for 17 seasons, has his supporters around
Fayetteville, but most people wish the issue would just
disappear. Layden, who has written numerous college basketball
stories in his nine years with SI, says, "I've been around him
enough to know that this is the way he is. He is a passionate
guy. Almost everything he says is a speech, and that hasn't
February 24, 2003
The world of golf, meanwhile, entered a new era last week when
Annika Sorenstam (page 62) announced that she would play in the
PGA's Colonial tournament. Her decision is intriguing on a couple
of levels, including how she compares to the best male golfers in
the world, says senior writer Michael Bamberger, who has covered
golf and other sports for SI since 1995. On a broader scale,
Bamberger says, Sorenstam is setting a precedent for intergender
competition: "It's the first step of what can be a long journey.
Of all the major sports, golf offers the best chance to have men
and women compete with each other." More immediately, Sorenstam's
decision moves her into the spotlight, a place where, despite her
level of accomplishment and a mental game that Bamberger calls
better than Tiger Woods's, she has rarely dwelled. "She's one of
the great athletes of our era, and maybe you didn't know anything
about her a week ago," says Bamberger, who is working on a book,
Wonderland: The Story of a Prom, an account of the lives of some
Pennsylvania high school students, to be published by
Grove/Atlantic in May 2004.