I have been working on a novel (completely unrelated to the contents of this blog) for some time. The above quote is not part of it: If it were, nobody would believe anyone had ever uttered such a thing.
So where did I find it? In Sports Illustrated. All right, I didn't get it directly from the source: I found it when I was searching for something else.
Now, you might wonder which issue contained those pithy words. Well, don't look to this year's Swimsuit issue, or last year's. Instead, you have to go back to 1954. And the person who wrote those words did not work for the magazine. He was none other than Robert M. Hutchins, the University of Chicago president.
Fifteen years before he wrote those words, he eliminated the varsity football program at the University of Chicago. Along with Mortimer Adler, he started a program of education based on the Great Books. The program was endorsed by, among others, future Supreme Court justice William O. Douglass, who left Columbia Law School to work under Hutchins and Adler.
He wanted to eliminate as many distractions as possible from the pursuit of "pure" knowledge. To that end, after getting rid of varsity football, he tried--unsuccessfully--to close down campus fraternities (The student body was still all-male at that time.) and religious organizations.
After his term as President ended, Chicago abandoned some of the changes he implemented. Football was re-instated as a club sport in 1963 and regained varsity status in 1969. Still, Chicago's athletic programs don't garner nearly the kind of support their counterparts at other nearby schools like Notre Dame command.
Hetchins would later work for the Ford Foundation. His wife, Maude, was a novelist. I think the quote at the beginning of this post wouldn't have been believable even in her work.