There is a lot to be said for the old you-don't-look-a-day-over-40 routine, especially if one happens to be well beyond that particular age. But for Curry Kirkpatrick, who is an honest 25 and doesn't look a day over, say, 16, a youthful appearance has its drawbacks. Staff Writer Kirkpatrick, whose report on the World Water Ski Championships appears this week on page 14, has to work harder than most writers because he first must convince everyone he is old enough to do the job.
There was the college basketball coach who told him, "You look like you should be on roller skates with ice cream dripping off your shirt." There was the incident at the U.S. Open in Houston recently when Curry showed up at the dressing room wearing the official press armband and the guard, a youth of about 18, refused to believe it. "You can't go in there," the boy-guard told the man-writer, "you're not old enough." And as if all that were not enough, SI Senior Editor Dan Jenkins, who is pretty young looking himself but is prematurely gray, occasionally introduces Kirkpatrick as "my friend, the child writer."
"It is supposed to be a compliment," says Kirkpatrick, "and I appreciate the fact that all this would be an advantage if I were 60 or 70. But right now I still get thrown out of a lot of locker rooms. I carry around a draft card and driver's license to prove my age and—the final insult of them all—I almost always have trouble getting a drink in bars all around the country."
With all that, it is a tribute to Curry's journalistic doggedness that he always gets his story, plus an impressive lineup of inside facts; he keeps bouncing back into those locker rooms.
Age aside, Curry has been a serious student of sport for several years. He concentrated on sport as a journalism major at the University of North Carolina—and showed such early flair for the job that he joined SI not long after his graduation in 1965. And the final, dizzying tribute came recently from Vermont Royster, editor of The Wall Street Journal, who did a column reminiscing about Chapel Hill old grads who made their marks as writers. The list started with Thomas Wolfe, of course, went on to such stalwarts as Tom Wicker and Clifton Daniel of The New York Times, Charles Kuralt of CBS and—there it was—Kirkpatrick of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. "And to think," says Curry, "that I went all the way through school without once reading Look Homeward Angel."
One thing happened when Curry was 10 that was destined to have a profound influence on his life—though he probably had no notion of it at the time. That was the founding of this magazine, which began with the issue of Aug. 16, 1954. With the publication of this anniversary issue, we feel impelled to note—modestly, of course—that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has become a U.S. institution, and a very successful one, at that. Our first issue had a presold circulation of 450,000. By January 1970 the figure will be two million. We believe, and hope you agree, that SI at 15 is both youthful and mature—youthful enough to be curious about everything, mature enough to make wise and judicious use of the material we cover (and uncover).