On page 76 there begins an article on Springfield College, a unique institution founded on the 19th century concept of Muscular Christianity and dedicated, even in this day and age, to the belief that teaching young men and women to play ring-around-a-rosy can be as admirable an undertaking as trying to launch them into orbit. No less remarkable than Springfield College is the article's author, Senior Editor Robert H. Boyle, who was born in Brooklyn, received a B.A. degree from Trinity College (honors in history) and an M.A. from Yale, served as an officer in the Marine Corps, studied in Spain and worked as a U.P. reporter before joining the staff of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in 1954 at a time when this magazine was just four issues old. Since then Bob Boyle bylines have appeared at happily regular intervals on stories scattered across the entire spectrum of sports. He has written of bowlers and boxers, of bookies and black bass. His energy and reportorial instincts have led him across Mexico with a touring team of Negro ballplayers, into the cockpit of a screeching hot rod, on a butterfly chase with Novelist Vladimir (Lolita) Nabokov, to the World Series of cock-fighting in the Ozark foothills, deep into dingy warehouses in quest of Frank Merriwell, and hot in pursuit of Charles (Sonny) Liston, no heavyweight champion of verbosity, who nevertheless finally fell into Boyle's notebook. Boyle's rather special technique is to seek evidence of the historical and sociological impact of sport—any sport—upon our way of life. The result, as his readers know, is not only informative but provocative and entertaining. Some of his more dazzling performances have been collected, and in some cases amplified, in a book, Sport—Mirror of American Life, published this month by Little, Brown ($6). "When I finished the book and sent it off to the publisher, I never wanted to lay eyes on it again," says Boyle. "Ugh, it disgusted me. But then, when I got the galleys to correct, I was very much taken with it. I guess the most enjoyable moments were those spent in research. I read about 45 old Frank Merriwell novels in the Street & Smith warehouse, for example, and I can remember getting so excited taking notes that my hands were perspiring and shaking." Now completely pleased with his first publishing venture, Boyle is considering another book, a scholarly study of the ecology of the black bass. So far this year—in the interest of science, of course—Boyle has fished a total of 124 hours and caught 425 bass. "The only trouble," says Boyle, "is that I'll have to keep after it, since the life cycle isn't quite complete. The largest bass that I have been able to catch this year weighed only 3½ pounds."
SPORTS SOCIOLOGIST BOYLE