A large part of every issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is devoted to major events—the ones that make the news—and that's understandable. Readers care about how Jack Nicklaus won the Masters, why Green Bay should become NFL champion and what makes Tony Oliva of the Twins such a good hitter, and they expect us to inform them on these matters. This week's issue is no exception. With the baseball season reaching the stage where it has whole cities in ferment and with football just beginning to seize its annual share of national attention, we have given 19 pages to these two sports alone.
We have never felt, however, that attentiveness to the events that make the headlines gives us license to ignore those that do not. Quite the contrary. Part of the vitality of sport—for both the participant and the spectator—is its diffusion. The man who finds the World Series exciting is also likely to be stimulated by accounts of equally intense but far more esoteric athletic endeavors. That is why we habitually cover major happenings in the so-called minor sports. In past issues we have run stories on the Soap Box Derby as well as the national championships in soaring, fast draw, bronco riding, horseshoe pitching, table tennis and curling, events that have their own special flavor and their own devoted—even fanatical—followings. There are two such stories in this week's issue. One is an account of the National Air Races at Las Vegas (page 68), the other a mile-by-mile report on the first annual National Bicycle Championship in the Colorado Rockies (page 32). You won't have to be a pilot to enjoy the one, or Dr. Paul Dudley White to be interested in the other.
The man who reported the bicycle championship, Harold Peterson, is ideally suited to write about the exotic fringe of the sports world. To it he brings an understanding eye, a sharp wit and an appreciation that Yankee Stadium is not all of America. Also enthusiasm. Asked to cover a group of sky divers in New Jersey last July, Peterson shocked his editors and insurance agent by diving out of a plane himself. Less dangerous assignments have taken him to Wyoming for a buffalo hunt and to Mississippi, where he brought his personal touch to barehanded catfishing (below). "And the squarer the sport, the better," says Peterson. "I even enjoy badminton, croquet and hiking." Peterson was born in Chicago, graduated from Harvard in 1961 and has been with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ever since. We hope that his eagerness to write about "square" sports and to wrestle catfish continues, although it may be a long while before he is asked to cover sky diving again.