Today's Tidbit... My Sports Illustrated 19th Hole Stories
I'm saddened to learn of the demise of Sports Illustrated. Like many sports fans who grew up in America from the 1950s and on, Sports Illustrated was my preeminent national sports publication. Other than television, it was the most important lens for viewing the sporting world. It arrived at our house with the Thursday mail, and since we had seven males and three females living there, it was already well-read by that evening.
Many people have posted their favorite Sports Illustrated covers today, so I wanted to celebrate the magazine with my exceedingly minor contributions to its greatness.
One of the features I enjoyed was the 19th Hole, or SI's letters to the editor, which primarily included comments about the previous week's issue. While we subscribed to Sports Illustrated, I wrote two letters to the 19th Hole, with both making the cut for publication in the following week's edition.
The first letter concerned a brief article in Sports Illustrated in 1977 that noted that a state study showed that deer were not always hit by motor vehicles near the posted deer crossing signs. The article made a few tongue-in-cheek remarks about the situation, so I wrote the following response and mailed it in.
Seeing our names in Sports Illustrated was fun, and I believe we toasted ourselves once or twice afterward.
The other letter came in the lead-up to the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics. A week before the games began, Sports Illustrated had a lengthy article about Yugoslavia's steps to prepare for the Games. At some point in the article, it mentioned that Vinko Bogataj was an official with Elan, a ski equipment manufacturer. I recognized Bogataj's name, so I wrote in, asking whether he was the same Vinko Bogataj seen endlessly tumbling downhill during the "agony of defeat" portion of the introduction to ABC's Wide World of Sports.
Sports Illustrated published my letter while also answering the Vinko question.
That was the end of my sports-related writing until I began writing my first book in 2016 and started blogging in 2017. So, those who subject themselves to reading this site have Sports Illustrated to thank or blame for contributing to my desire to write about sports, whether it is about the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
BTW, Here’s the original footage of Vinko’s fateful fall:
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