Although the necessity of fitting the vast variety and sheer quantity of U.S. sport into a finite number of pages often leaves our editors gnashing at their pencils, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has never taken that profusion as license to ignore important events elsewhere. In 1966 alone we printed 73 articles on foreign sport.
Britain, as usual, led the list, with 14 stories—and this is not surprising. The British endow most of what they do with unique style, and their sport, although attached to unchanging tradition, has a charmingly individualistic quality. Their racetracks, for example, differ one from another to an extent only dreamed of by habitués of money machines like Aqueduct. All in all, the British sporting scene is both interesting and active enough for us to require the full-time services of Correspondent John Lovesey in London.
Other countries dominating foreign coverage in 1966 were France and Mexico with eight stories each; Canada, seven; the Bahamas, six; and Italy, four. Brazil, Norway, Ireland, East Germany, Chile and Japan each were the subject of two articles, and Nicaragua, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Cuba, the Philippines, South Africa, Denmark, Tanzania, Jamaica and Hungary each figured in one. We also devoted 27 pages of our year-end issue (Dec. 19) to the emerging nations of Africa.
The overseas stories themselves have ranged from Jack Olsen's A Muddy Day in East Berlin and Marty Kane's A Very Welcome Redcoat, reports on track and field in East Germany and Kenya, to Gary and his Beloved Country, a sensitive look at Gary Player's South Africa by John Underwood.
Within one country, Italy, coverage last year ran from an account of a Fullmer-Benvenuto fight to such concerns as The Mickey Mouse Olympics, a review of the world bridge championships and an auto racing story titled In Sicily Nearly Everybody Loves the Targa Florio.
Our first story out of Italy this year, a look at basketball as played in that country (page 62), was written by Olsen, unofficial leader in overseas trips with 15. A man who admits to being 41 and frightfully handsome, Olsen is nonetheless unlucky. Traveling makes him deathly ill. "I've got a weak stomach because I had typhoid once in Mexico," he says. "Fourteen of those 15 trips, I've been sick as a dog. The way I am, I get sick to my stomach whenever I read a travel ad."
Naturally, Olsen arrived in Italy just in time for the floods that threatened Milan with epidemic. "The whole northern part of Italy was rather sodden," said Jack, who occasionally also deals in understatement. "My hotel's hors d'oeuvres got so obsolete that I started calling them la tavola di morte. The hotel management did not appreciate that. I finally found that the only safe diet was porridge in the morning, ice cream and steak at night."
Actually, perhaps Jack's latest troubles should not count as authentic Olsen, since Veteran Correspondent Erik Amfitheatrof became sick for the first time during eight years in Italy and Photographer David Lees, a native Florentine, developed an infection. On another occasion, and with far less provocation, Olsen had to be plucked off a Costa Rican beach by light plane.
"Of course, I had a magnificent time during the Olympics in Japan on that raw fish diet," he says, "but I think the prizewinner might be the time I got all my shots for Ethiopia the day I was to leave. I went out to the airport and, just before takeoff, I fainted. Fainted. My bags went to Athens; I went home."