Worth Reading: Why We Compete

June 3, 2007

Kevin Streelman arrived, as always, by car. He placed his Callaway golf clubs in the trunk of his Toyota Camry parked outside his condo in Scottsdale, Ariz., wasted two hours in Phoenix rush hour and then drove 300 miles northwest to Las Vegas. He stopped only once, for gas. Streelman already had logged almost 6,000 driving miles in May alone — from South Carolina to Pennsylvania to Illinois to California.Bob Kahan arrived, as always, by private jet. He drove up to the runway at a small airport in Santa Rosa, Calif., and handed his car keys to a valet. Kahan and three friends climbed on board his $15 million Dassault Falcon, furnished with 13 leather seats and burled wood interior. They sipped bottled water and read newspapers. The flight to Vegas lasted 55 minutes.

So begins Eli Saslow’s second installment in the series, “Why We Compete,” a look at sports in the 21st century. The link was thrown my way by Chris Combs, who always finds good things for me to look at.

Saslow does a great job of conveying the class differences between Streelman and Kahan without being heavy-handed. This next passage, I think, is brilliant:

Streelman told one of his favorite stories, about cramming into a trailer with four other golfers during a tournament on the North and South Dakota tour and paying $5 per head to sleep on worn cots in a field located 70 miles from the nearest town. Kahan laughed and then told one of his favorite stories, about forgetting that he had purchased a membership, a locker and clubs at the swank Shadow Creek Golf Course in North Las Vegas until an employee there called him a decade later and asked Kahan if he still wanted his golf clubs.

I’ll be going back to read the first installment in the series, and waiting eagerly for the next. Check it out.

(Edit: I did read the first installment, about a little-known ultramarathon race and the runners who push themselves to complete it. All I can say is WOW.)

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