When senior writer E.M. Swift and writer-reporter John Steinbreder began researching a profile of International Management Group and its founder-CEO Mark McCormack (page 98), the first thing to strike them was the enormous reach of the firm. "If there's a pro sporting event taking place on this planet, you can almost bet that IMG is somehow involved in it," says Steinbreder.
And if there's a story in SI requiring business acumen, you can be equally certain that Steinbreder is the reporter we will have on it. He joined our staff in 1988 after spending 4½ years as a reporter at FORTUNE, where he wrote the News/Trends column. "I was well known there for including at least one sports item in each edition," says Steinbreder.
That interest in matters athletic made him a natural fit for SI, especially since those national passions, sports and business, are becoming increasingly interwoven. Although he never so much as took Accounting 101, Steinbreder is as comfortable discussing vertical integration as he is vertical leap. "Good business, when you get right down to it, is often just common sense," he says.
To get a sense of IMG's international character, Steinbreder followed McCormack to Paris and watched him in action at the French Open. It was a welcome chore for Steinbreder, who always had a bit of wanderlust. A native of Fairfield, Conn., he studied and traveled abroad for three years after high school, attending school for a time in Lugano, Switzerland, and Nairobi, Kenya. He remembers a 14-hour train ride across the Sudan in a car so crowded that he elected to perch on the roof. Says Steinbreder, "You haven't really traveled until you've ridden on a second-class rail ticket in a third-world country."
Upon returning to the U.S., Steinbreder attended the University of Oregon ("because I'd never been to that part of the world before"), majoring in journalism. His journalistic career has kept his passport from collecting dust; he has traveled on assignment to Mexico, South America, South Africa and Europe.
Steinbreder, 33, lives in Fairfield with his wife, Christie, and their Labrador retriever, Timber. An avid hunter, he tracked down more than 60 sources familiar with McCormack while working on this story. Not that it was difficult to flush out his game. "People who have an opinion—good or bad—on the most powerful man in sports are certainly not that hard to come by," says Steinbreder.
At home, Steinbreder isn't all business.