When Columnist Steve Rushin travels the country, he reads the local papers and keeps an eye out for intriguing two-paragraph sports-related stories on, say, a man in Great Falls, Mont., accidentally shooting off one of his testicles while stuffing his gun into his waistband after a bar fight. He tears out those stories, stuffing them away in his notebook like a homemaker clipping coupons; this week he trots them out for his annual review of the year in weirdness. Rushin has no shortage of unusual material to draw on. "So many ridiculous things happen," he says. "It's easy. It falls out of the sky as though I were playing the tuba on the day it rains gold nuggets."
Also looking back this week is SI's picture editor, Jimmy Colton, who selected our Pictures of the Year. For the feature Colton cleaned out his "cool pics" file—photos he'd been grabbing for the past 12 months that he says "make you look back again and again." Some of the pictures were chosen for their sheer beauty, while others tell the big stories of the year. "And sometimes," says Colton, "you get lucky and they do both." Colton, who selects photos every week for the LEADING OFF pages, said that in his 30 years in the industry—including five at SI and 17 at Newsweek—this is the first time he's had the opportunity to fill 12 consecutive spreads. "It's pretty amazing," he says. "I wish we could do this every week."
As others look back, SI asked a veteran writer-illustrator to give us his thoughts on the future of sport. Bruce McCall's view is a satirical one, replete with stretch mansions, super-retro ballparks and an unheard of single-event attendance record. McCall says sports is an especially fertile field in which to work: "In sports there are more ideas than there's room for because it's so dynamic. There's a lot of color in it." A high school dropout who broke into journalism through auto magazines, McCall has done numerous covers and humor pieces for The New Yorker; his work also appears regularly in Vanity Fair. A new collection, All Meat Looks Like South America, will be published this spring.