Like a camera focusing on its subject, the staff of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has spent much of the last year bringing into sharper view the sprawling complexities of the 1972 Olympics. By late August, when the Games get under way, we will have printed nearly 100,000 words, scores of pictures and numerous analyses of who's who and what's what at Munich.
This week's issue is an example of the continuing attention SI is paying to the year's premier sporting event. It features three widely disparate elements of the Games—equestrian Neal Shapiro (page 32), the U.S. basketball trials in Colorado Springs (page 30) and the waters of Kiel, where the colorful Dragon, Soling and Finn sailboats will be competing come August (page 36). The vast differences in the three sports involved give some clue to the journalistic challenge every Olympiad offers.
So far this year our pre-Games coverage has ranged from swimming ( Shane Gould and Chet Jastremski) to wrestling ( Dan Gable) to track and field (Pat Matzdorf and Tom Von Ruden), plus stories on the U.S. soccer team, the city of Munich and a whimsical view of stadium construction. In addition, an Olympian undercurrent has run through our coverage of track and field this spring, as the best competitive bets for the U.S. team have established themselves.
Next week, in addition to a story on the first week of the Olympic track and field trials, there will begin a major three-part series by William Johnson on the history of the Olympics. Teamed with Writer-Reporter Nancy Williamson, Johnson spent several months of last year (when he was not otherwise occupied with such subsidiary chores as the Sapporo Winter Games) compiling research on the great and foolish moments of past Olympiads. Following the SI series, Johnson's work will be published as a book, All That Glitters Is Not Gold: The Olympic Game, by G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Overseeing this year's Olympic coverage is Senior Editor Gilbert Rogin, one of whose editing specialties, track and field, makes him the natural choice for the job. On the other hand, he is cognizant that running and jumping will be only part of the Munich story, and one of his primary tasks will be to see that readers get the best possible overview of the Games, from boxing to gymnastics, without sacrificing depth or color. Flexibility seems to be the key to the problem.
"Obviously we can't be everywhere," says Rogin, sounding like a man who is expected to be everywhere. "But we'll try. Some of the people we will be watching closely are obvious—the Spitzes and Keinos. It's when people leap out of nowhere—Bob Beamon at Mexico City, for instance—that you have to make those quick adjustments in plans."
At Munich with Rogin will be Associate Editors Jerry Kirshenbaum (who has completed a cram course in German) and Pat Putnam, assisted by Sarah Pileggi and Anita Verschoth, and a team of four photographers: Jerry Cooke, Jim Drake, Heinz Kluetmeier and Neil Leifer. We trust they will all keep the focus sharp in Munich from Aug. 26 to Sept. 10.