Ask most sports journalists to describe typical trips they have taken in the course of their work, and they will map out a route through cities like Ann Arbor, Mich., Norman, Okla., and Gainesville, Fla. Pose the same question to SI senior editor Chris Hunt and the response will include New Delhi, Shanghai and Istanbul. That's because, before joining SI in September 1989, Hunt spent 10 years at Travel and Leisure, moving up through the ranks to become executive editor of that magazine.
Hunt, 42, has long been at home on foreign soil. When he was 10 months old, his father accepted a job with an oil company and moved the family from Dallas to Caracas. While there, Hunt developed his interest in sports, beginning with baseball. "When I was eight I started following winter ball," he says. "I got to see American players like Norm Cash and Johnny Callison before they were Norm Cash and Johnny Callison."
Hunt vividly remembers New Year's Day, 1958, when he dragged his father to see a winter league playoff game. "We got to the stadium, and it was dark," he says. "We found out the game had been canceled because a revolution had broken out."
Later, Hunt took up tennis. "I was the Venezuelan national 15-and-under doubles champion," he says. " Venezuela isn't exactly a tennis power. It also didn't hurt that my partner won the national singles championship."
Hunt went on to Columbia University, where he stayed long enough to earn a master's degree in European and Latin American history. But his keenest educational experiences have come through his travels. "I guess the most exciting time I've had was when I was charged by a raging lowland gorilla in Zaire," he says. His gorilla experience, and the Travel and Leisure story based on it, earned Hunt a Lowell Thomas travel-writing award in 1988.
Now, as our articles editor, Hunt is responsible for coming up with the ideas for and editing many of our long feature pieces. "I had never worked on stories of this length before," he says. "Five to seven thousand words really gives the reader a chance to learn about a subject."
In this week's issue, readers get a chance to learn about call-in radio. Before editing the piece, Hunt listened to a Mexican call-in program while on vacation in the Yucatan. "One day the host announced that the next day's sports segment would be canceled because the local baseball team had lost a doubleheader," says Hunt. "He said the players were so rotten that they didn't deserve to be discussed on the air."
And you thought American call-in hosts were put-down artists.