In this issue we unveil a new feature, a weekly section devoted to college basketball presided over by senior writer Curry Kirkpatrick. The space will provide a forum for the provocative insights and vivid writing style of Kirkpatrick, a fountainhead of same for SI since 1965.
In the pursuit of other hoops-related duties over the years, the 43-year-old Kirkpatrick has trekked to such exotic locales as Hawaii, Africa, Nova Scotia "and Lincoln, Nebraska." But what might be his most taxing journey—"Curry Goes To Computerland," as senior editor John Papanek puts it—was taken this year. To write the new section from his Hilton Head Island, S.C., home, Kirkpatrick was obliged to acquire a modest arsenal of hardware: a PC, a modem and a printer, with all their software, in addition to two portable computers. Then he needed to take a crash course in how to use it all. A self-described "quill and parchment man from way back," Kirkpatrick made the switch from typewriter to terminal as willingly and uncomplainingly as a werewolf in mid-metamorphosis.
"It has been an ongoing, painful experience," he says. Others shared his pain. Over one two-day stretch, Kirkpatrick spent 12 hours on the phone with various New York-based Time Inc. computer people; afterward he gratefully sent flowers to several of them. In another marathon session, Kirkpatrick made seven calls to one of SI's resident specialists, system editor Mort Young. "He was so persistent, it showed me what a great reporter he is," says Young. Among the myriad pressing matters that Kirkpatrick needed to have clarified: "Can someone please tell me the difference between a disk and a diskette?"
The cold and suspicious regard in which Kirkpatrick holds computers may stem from his having had 3� stories gobbled by them in the last six months. At work in his home office recently, too much of his hardware was humming at once; a fuse blew, plunging the Kirkpatrick household into darkness. After the installation of "something unpronounceable," the Kirkpatricks' phones went on the fritz. The entire house had to be rewired. "Sometimes I want to crush them," says Kirkpatrick of his gleaming new possessions.
He admits they aren't all bad. His PC has a green terminal display, "the same color as the uniforms of the Cleveland State Vikings, my new favorite team." (After the Vikings stunned St. Joe's and Indiana in the NCAA tournament last spring, Kirkpatrick wrote, "Was Cinderella actually from kuh...kuh...kuh... Cleveland?")
"With every assignment we give Curry," says Papanek, "he gets just as excited as he did the first time he saw Bill (the Hill) McGill." That was in 1965. Twenty-one seasons later, Kirkpatrick remains crazed about the game—if not all the shiny new equipment with which he must chronicle it.
Flip to page 60 and check out how he has made his peace with the PC.