I think of it as a rite of passage.
When I turned 13 years old, I achieved a religious milestone: my bar-mitzvah, in which a Jewish boy, upon that pivotal birthday, becomes a man. And I cherished it.
But unbeknownst to most of my loved ones – and, to be sure, my rabbi – I had experienced, earlier that year, another giant leap forward that represented, to me, a sign of growth and maturity.
I subscribed to Sports Illustrated.
And, in the process, I cancelled my subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids.
(Technically, my parents paid for these subscriptions, but let’s not worry about that.)
I could not contain my excitement. An aspiring sportscaster and avid sports fan, I could not wait to start reading a grown-up sports magazine. Like any teenager, grasping at adulthood before reaching it, I wanted to spread my wings in every avenue possible, even in the seemingly frivolous category of magazine readership.
My enthusiasm for the sports themselves, however, was still childlike. When I opened Sports Illustrated each week, I zoomed to the quick hits, short articles, and entertaining pieces that focused on the games and players, as opposed than the stories that surrounded them.
Then I found Gary Smith.
And I read the article that altered my view on sports, sports journalism, and writing – permanently. (more…)